'That's wrong' – Guardiola denies Varane interest

Reports emanating from Spain said the former Barcelona boss was ready to launch a move for the France centre-back, claims he insists are wide of the mark

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has rejected reports linking him with a move for Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane.

An article in Spanish newspaper Marca claimed the former Barcelona coach had made the centre-back a priority transfer target.

The ex-Lens player was a regular under Jose Mourinho at the Bernabeu, but Carlo Ancelotti has often preferred Pepe and Sergio Ramos at the heart of his back four.

Guardiola was quizzed over the rumours at a press conference in Doha, Qatar, and swiftly dismissed them out of hand.

He said: “This paper also wrote that Sevilla’s sporting director will come instead of Matthias Sammer, and Sammer extended his contract. Marca don’t have my number, maybe they have Jorge Mendes’ number. Of course that’s wrong.”

The 43-year-old has featured heavily on the back pages of several newspapers in his homeland over the past seven days, with a separate piece linking him with a return to Barcelona.

The Spanish side’s former president Joan Laporta is reportedly ready to stand for president at the summer elections, with Guardiola’s appointment as sporting director apparently key to his campaign.

There are just 18 months remaining on his current deal at Bayern, but he remains relaxed over the situation. “We still have time, I have 18 months left,” he added.

Guardiola then reiterated his backing of Manuel Neuer to win the Ballon d’Or, while also giving his thoughts on Robert Lewandowski’s debut season at the Allianz Arena.

All three are fantastic players, of course they all want this award. I hope Manu will win it. He’s played fantastic in the last year. For me he is the best keeper in the world.”

He continued: “I talked to him. The first year at a new club is never easy. The most important thing is that he had many chances. He integrates well, within the game and the team. I’m very satisfied with him.” 

Bayern are currently in Qatar for a nine-day training camp before resuming Bundesliga duty against Bochum on January 23. 

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