Guardiola casts fresh doubt over future at Barça

Euro Zone

The new contract is ready to sign, but the Barcelona coach has no intention of signing it. Pep Guardiola gave a frosty response yesterday to news that a new two-year deal with a one-year get-out clause and a salary that would at the very least double his current meagre €1.5m before bonuses package, was just waiting for his signature.

Again casting doubts over his intentions to remain at the club beyond the end of the season he said: "Ninety-nine per cent of the playing staff will be exactly the same next season. The club is the club, it's not just me. The day that I feel I have to, I will speak with the directors but right now it is not what matters. The future is the game against Seville."

Guardiola experienced failure as Barça coach for the first time in midweek when – after a run of six trophies out of six – his side failed to make the quarter-finals of the Spanish Cup, losing over two legs to Seville. Their cup conquerors visit them again tonight.

Real Madrid remain two points behind the leaders and travel to Athletic Bilbao without top scorer Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine has a thigh strain and will be out for three weeks, leaving £30m summer signing Karim Benzema in line for a starting place.

Ramos rues investment

Juande Ramos has made a few bad decisions recently but the worst misjudgment may have come away from football. According to Seville sports paper Estadio Deportivo the man who won five trophies in two seasons at Seville spent €30m (£26.5m) on property in the region on the understanding it would be bought by a supermarket chain. But the multinational pulled out leaving Ramos, who is currently negotiating a return to football at second division Real Betis, saddled with payments of more than €2m a year on the land.

Canales attracted by England

English clubs keen on Racing Santander's 18-year-old Sergio Canales have been encouraged by the player himself. Asked on his father's plans to visit London to speak with English clubs next week, Canales said: "The English league along with the Spanish is the best in the world. Both attract me." He is available on a free at the end of the season. His dad, who is also his agent, met Real Madrid sporting director Jorge Valdano this week but wants to talk to other clubs.

Inter look to Baptista

Internazionale are close to taking former Arsenal striker Julio Baptista from Roma. Jose Mourinho, whose Serie A leaders visit Bari tonight, is keen on the Brazilian.

Marseilles' major task

Marseilles must win at Bordeaux tomorrow in Ligue 1 to keep up their faint hopes of catching Laurent Blanc's side. If the French champions take the points they will open up a 14-point gap on Didier Deschamps' side.

Fans flock to Bundesliga

The Bundesliga returned last night for the second half of a season that has seen record gates in Germany. The average attendance in the first half of the campaign was 42,115, passing 40,000 for the first time.

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