‘Pep didn’t visit me in New York’

Tito Vilanova has commented on his worsening relationship with Pep Guardiola and defended the club against his comments.

The former Barca boss declared last week his unhappiness at the Catalans for ‘using Vilanova’s illness to hurt him’, and for ‘not leaving him alone’.

For Barca’s current Coach, though, his version of events is not the same.

“People are not interested in personal issues, but Pep was not accurate and I was surprised,” Vilanova told reporters today.

“Nobody on the board has used my illness against him. I am delighted by the treatment of the board, they have helped me and are my familty, they were concerned about me. We met in New York the first time I went over. When I was there for two months for treatment, I did not see him and it was not my fault. He is my friend and I needed him and he was not there. I would have acted differently. I will not answer any more on this matter. And if I have is it because the other day there was a reference made to me.”

The two are believed to have fallen out when Vilanova was offered the job to replace Guardiola, without the latter’s knowledge or consultation.

“I spoke to him and told him my intentions. And when I was offered the role as Coach, the first one to encourage me was Pep.

“I have known him for 28 years and he is my friend. With him I won titles and have experienced spectacular moments. I do not believe that it all started at that time.”

The pair will be able to meet up in person later this month, when Bayern host Barcelona in a preseason game.

“Much has been said, but it’s just a preseason game. They have had more preparation and have an entire team. We are missing 10 or 11 players at the moment. I will face the game in the best possible way.”

Also present at the game will be Bayern’s latest summer signing, Barca’s Thiago Alcantara.

“I feel bad that he has gone, but not because Guardiola has taken him. I wish him luck. I wanted him to stay, but he knew he was competing against Xavi, Cesc and Iniesta, and I can only play two.

“When he was good, because he was injured for 18 games, he played 50 per cent of the minutes. But for big games it looked better to go with the other three.

“I did not see him before he left. Eventually the player will end up where they want to.”

The Blaugrana are continually being linked with a move this summer for Thiago Silva.

“I would like him to come, but I did not ask for just one name. I want to sign another centre-back. We have already spoken about this in November and February. When Keita left we looked to Song. We thought he might fill that gap and we have not had that possibility due to injury and so much misfortune. We will bring in a centre-back, for sure.”

Discussion this summer has also centred on whether Neymar and Lionel Messi can strike up a good working relationship together.

“We should be excited to have Messi and Neymar on the same team. We are lucky. I’m happy for his arrival and Leo is the best in the world.

“There will be no problem in understanding, they play in complementary positions. Whichever one will be marked will free space for the other.

“Let’s be optimistic. If Neymar had gone to another team then they would be talking about how they are building a great team, and here we are wondering if he will get on with Messi.”

Rumours also continue to link Cesc Fabregas with a move away. Manchester United have been linked with a bid, whilst today it is reported that the player would consider the move.

“That our players have offers is because they are good. I had a conversation with him and he said that he wanted to stay here and did not want to move to another big club, but to compete with Xavi and Sergi Roberto. I am relaxed.”

Tags Bayern Fabregas Guardiola Rosell Thiago Vilanova