Premier League

Barry keen on new City contract

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Sun, 21 Apr 2013 09:41:00

Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura praised Eric Abidal's performance after the defender's first start in more than a year against Levante on Saturday.

Assistant coach Jordi Roura praised Eric Abidal after the defender's assured performance in his first start for Barcelona in over a year helped move the Catalan club to the brink of the Primera Division title.

Cesc Fabregas' 84th-minute strike proved decisive as a below-par Barca saw off Levante 1-0 at the Nou Camp on Saturday night to restore the 13-point cushion over Real Madrid, who had briefly cut the deficit with a 3-1 win over Real Betis.

Barca were far from at their best - perhaps with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich - but the result and the 90-minute display from Abidal left Roura more than satisfied.

"This is a very happy day for everyone," Roura said when asked about the Frenchman's performance on his first Barca start since February 2012 following liver surgery last year.

"He played the entire match and he feels great. On a footballing level, I think he played well. He paced himself perfectly.

"We have to enjoy this moment. We will have time to sit down and talk about his contract extension before the season is over. The important thing is that he played the whole game."

The result means Barca could clinch the title next weekend if they win at Athletic Bilbao and Real lose at Atletico Madrid.

"We'll go to Bilbao and try to win the game," Roura told the club's official website. "We will take this one game at a time. The sooner we can win the title, the better.

"There's no doubt that there's a lot of merit in winning four out of the last five editions of the competition - if we win this year. This is a very difficult tournament."

He added: "This Saturday we suffered quite a bit to win the game. This points to how hard the competition is and it gives value to the fact that we've won 84 points so far and that we have such a big advantage over one of the best Real Madrid sides ever.

"It's normal to have ups and downs. Perhaps we were lacking fluidity but that was largely due to how well Levante played.

"There is nothing that could overshadow our joy if we win La Liga."

Alexis Sanchez's future has been the subject of much speculation lately, with Juventus and Inter Milan reportedly interested in trying to lure him away from Barca this summer.

But the Chile forward, who set up the winning goal for Fabregas after being introduced as a 77th-minute replacement for Cristian Tello, remained focused on the task in hand when asked about his future.

After pointing out that his contract runs through to 2016, Alexis said his objective - at least this term - was "to win La Liga and the Champions League".

He added: "If the manager needs me, I'll be 100 per cent ready. I'm improving on a daily basis and I'm fitting in with the team."

Poland striker Lewandowski has been linked with a big-money move away from Borussia Dortmund in the summer after catching the eye of many clubs with his performances in the Bundesliga over the past couple of seasons.

However, Bayern Munich are thought to be the frontrunners for the hitman's signature, but there is also understood to be interest from the Premier League and Manchester United have been monitoring his situation.

Ferguson is already blessed with attacking options at Old Trafford and says it would be difficult to fit another centre-forward into his squad.

However, he is not ruling out a major summer signing and insists much will depend on whether the Red Devils land the Premier League title.

Ferguson said: "Big signings? You are normally talking about forwards but it's complicated enough as it is with the forwards I've got."

On his interest in Lewandowski, he added: "Yeah, but Bayern Munich are strong with that too.

"We just have to wait and see where we are in terms of if we win the league. Then it may be different."

Liverpool have regularly had to play down reports this season that Suarez could be set to move on at the end of the season, with Brendan Rodgers' men again set to go without Champions League football next term.

Suarez also insists that he has given no thought to leaving in the summer and expects to stay with the club until his contract expires in 2017, although he recognises that it would be wrong to rule out anything.

"I'll be here next season yes. Not only am I playing for Liverpool, I am playing in one of the best leagues in the world," he said in the Sunday Times.

"I am very happy (at Liverpool) and I want to see out my contract, though in football you never know quite what's ahead."

Clarifying his comment, Suarez added: "A club can decide they don't want you, even though you want to stay. In football things never turn out the way you plan."

Suarez has scored 29 goals this season to earn a nomination on the six-man shortlist for PFA Player of the Year, but he accepts that his style of play may have put off some people off voting for him.

He said: "If I played against a forward who winds me up every game, tries to get on my nerves and drive me mad... it's difficult to vote for someone who does that.

"It's hard to vote for a player who's shouting at you all game and trying to wind you up. But I also think you have to look and evaluate from a footballing perspective.

"Player of the Year was never an aim at the start of the season or something I dream about. It's something I'd always remember, but I'm not going mad to win it."

Suarez says he would have preferred to help Liverpool win a trophy and scored fewer goals, adding: "Yes, 100 times more. I've got very much a group mentality."

Suarez believes Tottenham star Gareth Bale, who has recently had a spell on the sidelines due to injury, is deserving of the Player of the Year accolade.

"I love watching him, his change of pace, his spectacular goals, his strength of shot. He even scores with his head," said the Uruguayan.

"He's a totally all-round player and I think that it's a shame for football he's been out these last few weeks."

It was more heartache for the Canadian side as they suffered a similar fate for the second successive game.

They had taken the lead against Dynamo with a Jeremy Hall long shot just before the hour and looked set to end a run of three straight draws, only for Creavalle to pop up in injury-time to nod in.

In other games, Seattle's Oba Martin scored his first for the team as they notched the only away win of the day, beating the Colorado Rapids 1-0.

New York's Dax McCarty and Fabian Espindola scored in the first half to lead the Red Bulls to a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution.

Thierry Henry and Jonny Steele had second-half goals to help the Red Bulls extend the Revolution's winless streak in the Big Apple to eight games.

Chicago made it two victories in three games after a miserable start to the season, beating the Columbus Crew 1-0 to climb out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan scored a goal and set up another in his return to the line-up, securing a 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City.

FC Dallas maintained their eight-point lead at the top of the MLS Western

Conference with a 2-0 defeat of the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

Brad Rusin's own goal after half an hour gave the hosts the lead and Blas Perez doubled their advantage five minutes into the second half as Dallas extended their winning streak to six games and stayed well clear of the second-placed Los Angeles Galaxy.

The 32-year-old signed a five-year deal when he arrived from Aston Villa in 2009 and wants to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium beyond the summer of 2014.

Quoted in several national newspapers, Barry said: "I am happy here and very settled.

"I spent 12 years at Villa and I've spent four years at City and I'm not really one for moving around. I'd like to stay as long as possible.

"For a player to feel settled and feel very comfortable, you generally want to be playing regular football - and I've been lucky enough to feature in a lot of games this season.

"That's one reason why I am happy to stay."

He added: "I am sure decisions will be made over the summer."

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