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The outgoing Blaugrana boss has played down the impact of the Brazilian's sending-off on Saturday, claiming that his glowing assessment of the wing-back remains intact

Pep Guardiola has defended Dani Alves in the wake of Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Real Betis, declaring the Brazil international to be an "irreplaceable" player.

The right-back was given his marching orders for a lunge into Jefferson Montero early in the second half, and meant the Catalans required a last-gasp Seydou Keita equaliser to prevent them from slumping to a surprise defeat in their coach's last league match in charge.

Regardless of his indiscretions on the pitch, Guardiola insists Alves is still a world-class player and Barcelona would be hard-pressed to find a replacement for the 29-year-old.

"In the first half we played very well," Guardiola said after the game.

"However, we lost control at the start of the second half and after Alves's sending off it was another game.

"Alves exit rumours? It's not up to me anymore, but for me he is irreplaceable."

Guardiola was again asked whether his absence would be keenly felt by the Primera Division and also about his future plans. He replied: "No, La Liga existed before me and will exist after me, and I have no idea [what I will do], I cannot answer that now."

The coach will lead Barcelona one last time when they meet Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on May 25.

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