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Defender keen to earn Copa America place

Barcelona defender Gabriel Milito says coach Pep Guardiola convinced him to remain at the Nou Camp rather than seek a loan switch in the current transfer window.

The former Zaragoza defender had initially spoken of his desire to seek first team football elsewhere as he looked to secure his place in Argentina’s Copa America squad this summer.

Malaga were thought to be on the verge of agreeing a deal for the 30-year-old, but Milito performed a u-turn and insisted that Guardiola’s assurances were pivotal in his decision.

He stated: “It was easy once I knew that I had the support of Guardiola. Now I know that I will get minutes. I just wanted to compete, not to leave.

“It is impossible for me to have presence in the Argentina team from the bench. I have simply shown a desire to play.”

Milito also commented on rivals Real Madrid dropping points against Almeria on Sunday evening, and admitted he was surprised that they failed to win at the very place where Barca had triumphed 8-0 earlier in the campaign.

He said: “They have lost two points, but they will not lose any more. Our lead right now is anecdotal. We focus only on ourselves.”

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