Guardiola welcomes Mascherano
Pep Guardiola has congratulated Javier Macherano after a deal was reached for him to join FC Barcelona from Liverpool and stated that the midfielder will improve his squad.
The Blaugrana boss was delighted with the latest addition to his ranks after Mascherano joined
David Villa and Adriano Correia as the summer signings at Camp Nou. After the former West Ham
United enforcer landed in the Ciutat Contal on Saturday Guardiola stated: "Mascherano will give us
many things and I want to congratulate him and the club, who did things well. He is much more than
a defensive player. He has a great touch, keeps things simple, is very strong and will add a lot to
our midfield. Also, despite being young he has great experience and we have references that he is a
good person too."
The arrival of Mascherano makes him a direct replacement for Yaya Touré,
who left to join Manchester City at the end of last term, but Guardiola does not want to compare
the two players. "Mascherano is different. But he will integrate quickly because tactically he is
very intelligent. Both he and Sergio Busquets can play together because use different ways to move
the ball out from the back." Guardiola remembered that Barça had been keen to sign Mascherano a
year ago, but having both Touré and Busquets meant he was unable to.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been making headlines this week and Guardiola reflected on the
situation. "That people are talking so much about his future is down to the time of year," the
coach explained. "I am keeping a cold head and will not lose my calm while taking what I believe
are the best decisions for the club." The Swedish striker has not been included in the squad to
face Racing Santander. "That is my decision," Guardiola explained. "He has trained well and is in
form. Because of the situation that we find ourselves in though I have chosen not to call him up. I
am the one who is in control here." Should Ibrahimovic leave Guardiola was asked if he would look
to replace him. "At this moment he is a Barça player. Depending on what happens we will decide. We
will see how the market looks," he added.
Barça travel to the Nuevo Sardinero on Sunday to face Racing Club and
Guardiola is well aware of what a tricky trip it could be. "It is always a difficult place for us
to go," he said. "It was the same during my time as a player as well. I have watched them and know
how they play. They use different pressure and are well organised and have stand-out players like
[Pedro] Munitis. I am very excited and hope that it will be a great game." Some critics have said
that the league could be a two-horse race between Barça and Real Madrid, but Guardiola does not
agree. "It will be completely between us," the trainer commented, adding that Valencia, Sevilla and
Atlético de Madrid could be involved.
On Thursday the Blaugrana drew Panathinaikos, FC Copenhagen and Rubin Kazan in the Champions
League. "Again we are four league champions in the same Champions League group," Guardiola said.
"It makes me feel better to play against teams who everyone thinks will be difficult. I am not
looking forward to seeing Rubin and I have utmost respect for them." The Champions League final
will be played at Wembley Stadium next spring, but Guardiola is not thinking about history
repeating itself. "To play the final anywhere would be great, but Wembley is currently a long way
off," he stated.