There'll always be a place for Pep at Barca – Rosell

The Blaugrana president says the 42-year-old was the club’s best-ever coach and has backed Lionel Messi to retain the Ballon d’Or this year

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell says he would gladly welcome back Pep Guardiola to the club at any point.

The 42-year-old, now coaching Bayern Munich, spearheaded a highly successful period for the club which saw them win a wave of silverware including three Ligas and two Champions Leagues.

He left the club amid reports of bad blood with Rosell back in 2012 but the Camp Nou chief says there will always be a place in Catalunya waiting for him.

“The doors will be open for him for life,” he is quoted as saying by Marca. “[He was] by far the best coach in the history of the club.”

Despite his admiration for Guardiola, Rosell went on to voice his delight with how Tata Martino has fared since taking over as coach from Tito Vilanova over the summer.

“Tata is a very brave person, with a lot of knowledge of football. He has vindicated out decision to sign him.”

Finally, the 49-year-old backed Lionel Messi to retain the Ballon d’Or ahead of Franck Ribery and Cristiano Ronaldo, despite an injury-hit 2013.

“If people vote for the performances last season, then, no doubt, Messi was the best. He won the last four awards and when you see the same face again and again, people will look for a change.

“It’s human. But I believe it should again go to Messi.”

There's always be a place for Pep at Barca – Rosell

The Blaugrana president says the 42-year-old was the club’s best-ever coach and has backed Lionel Messi to retain the Ballon d’Or this year

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell says he would gladly welcome back Pep Guardiola to the club at any point.

The 42-year-old, now coaching Bayern Munich, spearheaded a highly successful period for the club which saw them win a wave of silverware including three Ligas and two Champions Leagues.

He left the club amid reports of bad blood with Rosell back in 2012 but the Camp Nou chief says there will always be a place in Catalunya waiting for him.

“The doors will be open for him for life,” he is quoted as saying by Marca. “[He was] by far the best coach in the history of the club.”

Despite his admiration for Guardiola, Rosell went on to voice his delight with how Tata Martino has fared since taking over as coach from Tito Vilanova over the summer.

“Tata is a very brave person, with a lot of knowledge of football. He has vindicated out decision to sign him.”

Finally, the 49-year-old backed Lionel Messi to retain the Ballon d’Or ahead of Franck Ribery and Cristiano Ronaldo, despite an injury-hit 2013.

“If people vote for the performances last season, then, no doubt, Messi was the best. He won the last four awards and when you see the same face again and again, people will look for a change.

“It’s human. But I believe it should again go to Messi.”

Thiago Alcantara: I want to be the best like Ronaldinho

The 22-year-old Spain international has admitted that he still looks up to the former Ballon d’Or winner, whom he could face in the upcoming Fifa Club World Cup

Thiago Alcantara has revealed that his goal is to be the best player in the world – just like his “childhood idol” Ronaldinho.

The Spain international is currently proving his worth to Bayern Munich, after joining the reigning European champions from Barcelona during the summer for a reported €25 million.

A shock midweek defeat to Manchester City aside, Bayern have been in dominant form so far this season and next week travel to Morocco for the Fifa Club World Cup, a tournament in which Thiago hopes to come face to face with Atletico Mineiro’s former Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldinho.

“He was my childhood idol,” the 22-year-old enthused in an interview with Bild. “I admired him. I still do. It would be special to play against him. He was and is a showman.

“For me , football is fun. I love to win the ball, to play the perfect pass and to be the best. There is no room for fear.”

Thiago Added that former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has played a key role in his smooth integration into the Bayern machine, while also paying tribute to the club’s president, Uli Hoeness, and CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“They were really attentive during my recent injury, asking me how the rehab was going,” the midfielder explained. “The mere fact that the bosses enquire as to how I’m doing makes happy.

“Pep, I got to know him as a young player [at Barcelona] and felt like he’s always counting on me. He also takes care of everything. He is always there.”

Dante: Ribery deserves Ballon d'Or

The Bayern Munich defender believes his French team-mate has earned the prestigious accolade having helped his club to a historic treble this year

EXCLUSIVE
By Hocine Harzoune

Bayern Munich defender Dante believes there is only one candidate deserving of the Ballon d’Or award this year: his team-mate Franck Ribery.

Ribery was named as one of the players on the three-man shortlist alongside Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi earlier this week, with the winner being revealed on January 13.

The France international helped Bayern to an unprecedented German treble in the first part of 2013 and has continued his imperious form this season too, which is enough justification for Ribery to win the accolade according to Dante.

“Ribery was and still is a very important part of our team,” the Brazil international told Goal.

“We won all the titles and I am firmly convinced that he deserves the Ballon d’Or. Not because he is my friend, but because of the things he has achieved and the way he has helped the team.”

Dante also gave his thoughts on Champions League contenders this season. Clubs were whittled down from 32 to 16 as the final round of group stage action was completed on Wednesday.

Ahead of the draw for the last 16 on Monday, Dante knows it will not be easy to retain Europe’s premier competition and believes five or six teams could well be in the mix, including Paris Saint-Germain.

“PSG have a great team with strong players and can go far in the Champions League,” he added.

“Five or six clubs can win the title, I think it is a tough competition and you have to turn up at the right time at the highest level to reach the final.”

Ribery has already collected Uefa’s Best Player in Europe this year and was named as French Player of the Year earlier in December.

Guardiola: Bayern not the best team in Europe

The Spaniard insists his side can still improve significantly and has warned that the Bundesliga title race is not over

Pep Guardiola does not believe that his Bayern Munich are the best team in Europe.

Guardiola is aiming to replicate predecessor Jupp Heynckes, who won the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal during his final season at the club. 

With Bayern leading the Bundesliga and having secured Champions League qualification as Group D winners, Guardiola has enjoyed a successful start to his debut campaign at the Allianz Arena, but the former Barcelona boss claims his side can still look to improve.

“We are not the best team in Europe,” he said. “The last year was incredible, the club earned Jupp lots and lots of praise. This year we do not deserve the praise.

“We’re not the best team in Europe. We can improve a lot.”

Bayern were beaten 3-2 by Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday and Guardiola wants a response against Hamburg on Saturday. 

Despite enjoying a four-point advantage at the top of the German top flight, Guardiola does not believe the title race is over. 

“I have the feeling that people think the Bundesliga is already decided,” he added. “That’s not true, we are only in December..

“A win (on Saturday) is important to keep our enemies at bay. We have struggled a lot to have this advantage.

“I’m surprised by how difficult every single game is in the Bundesliga. 

“It’s important to win against Hamburg in order to keep the distance to Leverkusen, Dortmund and Gladbach.”

Guardiola also confirmed that a decision on the involvement of David Alaba and Javi Martinez, who are suffering with finger and shoulder injuries respectively, would be made on Saturday.