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Cristian Tello: I'll be forever grateful to Guardiola


Pep Guardiola was the coach who gave Cristian Tello his first outing in a Barcelona shirt, something which the current Fiorentina player will never forget.
The 25-year-old revealed just how much he owes the Manchester City coach for that opportunity, while he also explained the ways in which the tactician works.
"I'll be forever grateful to Guardiola," Tello said in an interview with EFE when reflecting on his senior debut.
"It was very exciting, as it's a dream you have when you're younger.
"It was exciting to fulfil that dream at Barcelona, which is the best team in the world in my opinion.
"I was fortunate to have a coach who turned to the youth academy."
Discussing the coach's intricacies and his approach to training and matches, Tello made it clear just how dedicated and intense he is.
"He is a very focussed coach, who likes everything to be perfect," the player explained. "He wants to control everything and he demands that his teams play the way he wants them to.
"That's the way he works and I think it's turned out well for him."
Another unforgettable figure from Tello's time at the Camp Nou is Lionel Messi, who impressed his fellow La Masia graduate from day one.
"From the first moment you train with him, you are amazed by what he can do," he said in the interview.
"He is unique and is the best in the world, which he demonstrates in every match.
"It's not just that he scores goals and provides assists, but it's all the work he does for the team and the way in which he makes his teammates play."
Tello moved to Fiorentina last summer on a loan deal and has already made several appearances for the Florence-based club, turning out for them 18 times in Serie A and four times in the Europa League.

Bilic vows not to sell Payet on the cheap


Manager Slaven Bilic kept his cards close to his chest but insisted West Ham United will not be pressured into selling unsettled midfielder Dimitri Payet for a cut-price fee.
Bilic went public about Payet's desire to leave West Ham last week, outlining how the French fan-favourite had gone on strike in an attempt leave the club.
Payet, who signed a five-year contract last February, has been strongly linked with a return to French side Olympique de Marseille by the British media.
"His departure is not inevitable. I like to solve situations in house to protect the team. I said everything then and what has changed now? Nothing," Bilic told reporters on Thursday.
"It is not a good situation for the club, it is not good for football in general. We took our stand very clearly and it stays the same. We aren't going to sell our best players on the cheap just because somebody wants to sign them."
Bilic dismissed media reports suggesting that Southampton defender Jose Fonte was having a medical at West Ham but suggested the club will soon be announcing a new arrival.
"(Fonte is) not having a medical today," Bilic said.
"We are not talking about transfers, we are working on some though. There are one or two players we need, it won't be easy, but we are trying. Hopefully (we'll) have something to announce in 24 hours."
Michail Antonio has been in fine form this season, scoring eight times in 28 appearances, and Bilic is eager for the club to tie the winger down to a new contract.
"He's a player we want to keep. He has improved and is a real player for the future. Let's give him a chance to show that he is one of our most important players," the manager added.
"We are in a position to offer a new deal and he deserves it. Negotiations have just started, I will leave that to the chairman. I hope it gets done."
West Ham, in 12th, continued their slow climb up the Premier League when they beat Crystal Palace last weekend and Bilic said he was not expecting an easy match against 16th-placed Middlesbrough on Saturday.
"They don't score a lot but they don't concede a lot either. We will have to be on top of our game. We need to prove we have turned a corner," he said.

Robinho recalled for Brazil's Chapecoense friendly


Former Real Madrid striker Robinho was recalled by Brazil for the first time in more than a year on Thursday to face Colombia in a charity match to raise funds for the victims of the Chapecoense air crash.
The Atletico Mineiro player, who will be 33 on the day of the game, was called up alongside his former Santos colleague Diego, who is now with Flamengo, and Palmeiras' striker Dudu.
"Playing for Brazil on my birthday is a great present and a great honour," the one-time Manchester City player said on Twitter of the Jan. 25 match in Rio de Janeiro.
Coach Tite agreed not to call up European-based players for the match whose proceeds will go to the families of those who perished in the air crash in November in Colombia.
More than 70 people, including dozens of players and staff with the Brazilian club, were killed in the crash.
The club were due to face Colombian side Atletico Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamericana. Only six people survived.
Tite, who called up five of Brazil's triumphant Olympic side, said it was a chance to evaluate new players but added it was not about winning or losing.
"The result isn't really important," he told reporters in Rio de Janeiro. "If ever there was game that I took the field and didn't care who wins, this is the game. This is about people."
Tite called up highly rated Gremio pair Luan and Walace, goalkeeper Weverton, and Vasco da Gama centre back Luan.
The international, which will be played at Rio's Olympic stadium, will serve as a warm up for Brazil's next World Cup qualifiers, away to Uruguay on March 23 and at home to Paraguay five days later.
Chapecoense will play their first competitive game since the crash a day after the match, when they face Joinville in a local league fixture.


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