Guardiola wants Sanchez before Fabregas

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola’s main priority this offseason is

to reinforce the team’s attack with Chile forward Alexis Sanchez,

but confirmed the club is also negotiating with Arsenal for

midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

”We need a forward. We have more players in midfield than in

attack,” Guardiola said Tuesday in his first news conference since

lifting the Champions League trophy at Wembley Stadium earlier this

summer.

”Bojan (Krkic) and Jeffren (Suarez) both want to leave, so the

attack is more important.”

While Barcelona will keep the main core of last season’s

championship squad, it will be challenged by a Real Madrid side

that has bolstered its bench with a number of offseason

signings.

”The number of games on the calendar is scary,” said

Guardiola, whose team will add the Club World Cup to its domestic

and European competitions this season.

Guardiola highlighted that Sanchez’s versatility suits Barca’s

offensive system which requires its forwards to constantly exchange

positions to make its short passing game click.

”(Sanchez) is a young player who can play in all three

positions in attack,” Guardiola said. ”He was the best fit for

the profile of player we were looking for. We hope we can be lucky

enough to bring him here.”

Barcelona sports director Andoni Zubizarreta added that a deal

with Sanchez’s Italian club Udinese was ”in the final

stretch.”

Guardiola is entering his fourth season at the helm of the

Catalan giants, and reaffirmed that the club would ”try to the

very last minute” to also bring in Fabregas.

”Last season Arsenal didn’t want to negotiate (for Fabregas).

This year they have accepted to negotiate and we are working at

it,” Guardiola said. ”The club has the money to sign him. We will

try to the very end to bring him here. Until Aug. 31 there is

time.”

The former Barcelona player turned coach insisted that Fabregas’

arrival would not create a logjam in a midfield already stocked

with Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and youngster Thiago Alcantara,

who recently led Spain to the under-21 European championship.

”The midfield is our foundation,” he said. ”We can never have

too many players. Cesc can help us in many ways.”

Zubizarreta said that Bojan, who has struggled to break into the

starting lineup since Guardiola’s arrival, is close to leaving for

Roma.

”A deal will be closed very soon,” Zubizarreta said.

After a preseason tour in the United States, Barcelona opens the

season on Aug. 14 against Real Madrid in the first leg of the

Spanish Supercup.

Barcelona will then begin its campaign for a fourth straight

Spanish league crowns under Guardiola.