Guardiola not ready to sign new deal

MADRID - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola assured the club he was not about to abandon them on Tuesday but told reporters on his 40th birthday he was still not ready to sign a new contract.

Guardiola has won eight trophies in his two-and-a-half seasons in charge and the Catalan club he originally joined as a 13-year-old have made it clear they desperately want him to stay beyond his current deal which runs out at the end of the season.

"There is a lot of time left on my contract, let me work in peace," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's King's Cup quarter-final, second leg at second-division leaders Real Betis.

"The club knows I would not leave them in the lurch," he said, adding that he would rather not have to keep talking about the issue in public.

"I simply need time to look at some things. It will be resolved in its own time."

Barca are four points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga at the halfway stage and have a 5-0 advantage over Betis from last week's Cup first leg at the Nou Camp. They would play Almeria or Deportivo La Coruna in the last four.