Busquets urges Guardiola to stay

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has called for coach Pep Guardiola to commit his long-term future to the reigning Spanish and European champions.

The two Sergios battle it out.

Busquets urged his manager to stay at the Nou Camp ahead of Sunday's return to La Liga action at Espanyol on Sunday.

Guardiola has presided over an astonishing run of success at the Nou Camp since taking charge in 2008, with last month's victory in the FIFA Club World Cup his 13th piece of silverware.

Guardiola, an iconic player for Barca in the 1990s, has been surprisingly reticent to commit his future to the club, however, preferring instead to sign one-year contracts.

It is a situation that has given way to an annual round of speculation over Guardiola's future - even though it seems unfeasible that the 40-year-old would walk away from what is widely regarded as one of the greatest club sides ever assembled.

Guardiola has been touted as an eventual successor to Manchester United boss Ferguson when his Old Trafford tenure - now into its 26th year - eventually comes to an end, but Busquets feels his fellow Spaniard would be better served building a lasting legacy of his own in his homeland.

"I hope he stays here for a long time," Busquets told a press conference. "Not only for the good of this team, but for the good of the club.

"It would be great if he were a Ferguson-type of manager."

Sunday's game marks Barca's return to league action after the winter break, although it will actually be their second game back following their 4-0 demolition of Osasuna in the Copa del Rey in midweek.

Guardiola's men need to hit the ground running in the second half of the season after heading into the Christmas break three points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid at the summit of La Liga, but the trip to Cornella to play derby rivals Espanyol represents a stern test.

Espanyol enjoyed a strong first half of the season and sit eighth after back-to-back victories prior to the break.

Busquets has warned his team-mates to be on their guard against their local rivals, and was thankful for the useful tune-up Barca enjoyed in the first leg of their midweek cup tie.

"It's always difficult to come back from holiday, but we came back and played a good game against a tough opponent," he said of the Osasuna victory. "We managed to get a good result for the away leg."

Looking ahead to this weekend, the 23-year-old added: "It's a derby and that means we have extra motivation. We'll all do what's best for the team.

"I believe it's one of the most difficult stadiums. They're a great team that pressures high up the pitch.

"Even though they've sold some players and have a young team, they're having a great season."

Despite their good league form, Espanyol head into the game smarting from a 2-1 defeat at second-tier Cordoba in their Copa del Rey fifth-round tie on Thursday night.

The La Liga side are still favourites to progress from the tie after the home leg next week, and coach Mauricio Pochettino is adamant the setback will not affect the mindset heading into the Barcelona match.

"There is no problem with the players recovering," the Argentinian said. "We should not be affected by this result."

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