Brazilian defender Dani Alves on Wednesday said Barcelona would be ‘nothing’ without Pep Guardiola, as the coach ponders whether to renew his contract at the Nou Camp. ‘I think that Guardiola will sign again because without him we’re nothing. Without him we’d lose our anchor and we’d drift away. Guardiola has given us stability,’ Alves told a news conference in Barcelona. Guardiola’s contract with the Catalan club is up at the end of the season but he sparked concerns within the club last weekend by saying he still needed more time to decide his future. ‘If he decides not to stay on it wouldn’t be a betrayal of Barca. You need a happy medium in life. If he goes, everything he’s done for the club will remain,’ Alves said, adding that he was ‘convinced’ the coach would stay. Barca are currently 10 points behind rivals Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and Alves was critical of the club’s performances. ‘The gap is perhaps a bit overstated but we must have made some mistakes to be where we are,’ he told reporters. ‘We’ve played badly in patches away from home. We’ve lacked balance when pushing forward. But there’s still time to improve. We have to take the Valencia match as an example,’ he added.
— AFP, Madrid
Zenit Saint Petersburg have entered loan negotiations with Arsenal for the London club’s troubled midfielder Andrei Arshavin, according to the Russian champion’s general director. Arshavin, whose contract expires in June 2013, has been the subject of widespread speculation of his imminent return to Russia after spending much of the season on Arsene Wenger’s bench. He has also been targeted by Russia’s big spenders Anzhi Makhachkala, who signed Dutch coaching legend Guus Hiddink last week. Zenit’s General Director Maxim Mitrofanov told the Sovietsky Sport daily Arshavin was still interested in staying in England but had also realised he needed to get match fit before joining Russia’s Euro 2012 squad. ‘Arshavin would interest Zenit in loan terms,’ Mitrofanov told the online edition of the daily. ‘We have talked to (Arsenal). We will have to see what they do next.’ Russia’s transfer window expires on Friday. Sovietsky Sport had earlier reported that Zenit wanted to eventually make the 30-year-old Russian squad skipper a coach of the club’s youth squad. Arshavin’s stock soared when he spearheaded one of the most dazzling Russian sides in decades to a semi-final appearance to in the Euro 2008 championship. Arsenal signed him early the following year after paying a 16.5-million-euro transfer and saw him make an immediate impact with six goals in 12 games.
— AFP, Moscow
Legendary Portuguese striker Eusebio left a Lisbon hospital on Wednesday two days after being admitted for high blood pressure, according to a source from the city’s Hospital da Luz. Eusebio ‘left in a discreet manner without making a statement to the press’, a representative from the hospital said, adding that the former Benfica star will undergo ‘cardiological tests’ next week. The 70-year-old also spent Christmas in hospital after contracting pneumonia and then returned just a few days later after complaining of severe neck pain. Nicknamed the ‘Black Panther’, Eusebio helped guide Benfica to a European Cup title in 1962 before leading his country to a third-place finish at the World Cup four years later, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer with nine goals. — AFP, Lisbon