EPL

Guardiola impressed by new additions but concedes Man City have lost important players

By Sports Desk July 29, 2022

Pep Guardiola is confident Erling Haaland and the rest of Manchester City's new signings will settle in swiftly, though he acknowledged the Premier League champions have lost some key players.

Club stalwart Fernandinho left when his contract expired at the end of last season, and City have sold three other players who played a role in Guardiola's success, with Raheem Sterling joining Chelsea while Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko departed for Arsenal.

City already have most of their replacements through the door. Julian Alvarez was signed in January and has now linked up with the squad, while a deal was struck with Borussia Dortmund for prolific striker Haaland in May.

Kalvin Phillips has been signed from Leeds United to bolster City's midfield and Stefan Ortega has joined as a back-up goalkeeper, facilitating a loan move to Middlesbrough for Zack Steffen.

City's new recruits could get their first taste of competitive action on Saturday, when Guardiola's side face FA Cup winners Liverpool in the Community Shield.

Though he has been impressed with how quickly the new arrivals have started their City careers, Guardiola emphasised how important the players who have moved on were to his squad.

He told a news conference: "If you analyse what happened in the last years, without these important players it would be difficult to imagine it. We wish all of them the best.

"New people arrived, they settled quickly, down to earth and very humble people. We are going to try, this is Manchester City, we are all of us, we try to be a competitive team, to win our first title. 

"It's an honour to compete again [for the Community Shield], we will try to do a good game against an opponent we know well, it will dictate a little bit how is our moment, our level. Two, three weeks of pre-season is too short, but I saw many good things in this period."

Asked if it would take time for his new players to adapt, Guardiola said: "Hopefully not, the quicker they settle the better. It's my feeling they will not take time.

"Stefan surprised us a lot, how good he is on the ball and with our build-up, Kalvin knows the Premier League perfectly. The way they've listened, behaved, the minutes they've played. I think they'll settle quickly."

Guardiola was pressed on whether this was a "reset" the squad required, but the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss stressed that was not necessarily the case.

"Sometimes the transfer market dictates what you want to do," he explained. "The first season when we arrived we tried to loan, sell players and could not. This year I do not know what happened.

"Sometimes you want to do things, but it depends not just how good or bad we are but on the situations, and these situations happened quicker than we expected.

"The three players who have been sold, if they stayed with us they would have been incredibly happy. I know them, they [would have] continued to do what they had done. These situations have happened, we make our replacements, and they are here.

"Normally when a project is six, seven years, you are not seven years with the same people. When I arrived there was just Kevin [De Bruyne]. We have gratitude for the guys that were here. All the players have made an incredible contribution, we can only be grateful."

City are interested in signing Brighton and Hove Albion left-back Marc Cucurella, who on Friday was said to have handed in a transfer request in an attempt to push through a move, with the Seagulls reportedly holding out for a £50million fee.

Guardiola refused to comment further, though he did note it was an area of the pitch City would like to strengthen if possible.

Aymeric Laporte, meanwhile, is likely to be out until at least September after having knee surgery, Guardiola confirmed.

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    "I always expect the best," Guardiola said. "They come with good results against tough sides, with Southampton it's not easy but especially Liverpool and Arsenal at home, and yeah, good momentum for them."

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