Football: Garcia plays down Chelsea rumours

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THE BARCELONA striker Oscar Garcia claimed yesterday that Chelsea, currently top of the Premiership, are interested in signing him. However Garcia, who scored twice after coming on as a substitute in Barcelona's 7-1 win over Alaves last weekend, said he would prefer to stay and fight for his place with the Spanish champions.

"That the league leaders in England are interested in signing me is a source of pride," the 25-year-old said. "But it would make me more proud to know that Barcelona value me. I feel like a Barcelona player - to play here is as good as it gets. But if Barcelona don't want me then I'll have to rethink."

Garcia, who scored five goals in 16 league games last season, could link up with his former team-mate, Albert Ferrer, who moved from the Nou Camp to Stamford Bridge in the summer.

Meanwhile Joe Kinnear has rubbished reports that he is attempting to sign the West Ham United forward John Hartson. The Wimbledon manager, whose team continue to climb the Premiership table, will be without four of his forward players next weekend and is rumoured to be in the market for a top-class striker.

But Kinnear laughed off suggestions of a pounds 5m bid for Hartson. "I would love to have Hartson because he's a good player, but I hate talking about people who are contracted to their clubs," Kinnear said. "If he was available and I could generate the money of course I would love to have him.

"But I won't be going for anybody. I've got some youth team players on the verge and they'll be getting an opportunity. I won't buy anybody just for the sake of it."