Manchester City boss Guardiola gearing up for tough transfer window

By Sports Desk February 22, 2020

Pep Guardiola is expecting Manchester City to face a tough transfer window due to inflated fees and uncertainty over the club's participation in the Champions League.

Last week, City were hit with a two-year ban from European competition by UEFA along with a €30million fine over alleged breaches of its Financial Fair Play regulations.

The club immediately signalled their intention to launch an appeal against the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with chief executive Ferran Soriano saying the allegations "are simply not true".

Prior to UEFA's announcement, many had been tipping Guardiola to oversee an overhaul of City's first-team squad.

But when asked by Sky Sports if he expects a busy close season, the City manager admitted it will be tough to act in the market.

"I don't think so. I don't think so because today it is so difficult to change the players because they are so expensive and it is not easy," he said.

"The club must [also] be sustainable, I understand completely, and in the situation that we are in, we have to wait, [not] anticipate. Our idea right now with the situation with Financial Fair Play [is] when we are going to appeal.

"Right now, we have to wait. So, we are going to play these three months, and when the season finishes, we will see what the situation is.

"And with the club, together, we are going to decide what is best - not just for the next year, but for the next two, three, four years for the cub."

The former Barcelona coach insists City are still preparing as though they will play in the Champions League next season, though.

"I think the club is working as though nothing has changed, nothing has happened, and the players have to play like they have done all of these seasons [previously] in the same way," Guardiola added.

"We believe we are going to be there. What we have to do is to do our job and play like we have done these seasons and then, after that, [we will see]."

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    Pep Guardiola was uninterested in Manchester City's ascent to the Premier League summit for the first time this season after they beat West Brom 5-0 at The Hawthorns.

    City endured a tough start to the campaign but have since won 11 games in succession in all competitions, most recently blowing the struggling Baggies away with four first-half goals on Tuesday.

    That victory was enough to take Guardiola's team to the top of the table, although Manchester United could reclaim first place by beating Sheffield United on Wednesday. City would then have a game in hand.

    This back-and-forth does not yet concern Guardiola at the season's midway stage, however.

    "The last thing I'm thinking about is the table," said the City manager. "Now I want to come back home safe, have a few days off and then Sheffield United. That's my only concern.

    "Today just finished the first leg – we have still 19 games, an incredible marathon. We are going to drop points, we are going to lose games.

    "What is important is, whatever happens, be calm – like we were when we were 12th in the table.

    "We have to understand why we didn't win a game and immediately win the next one. This is my only concern."

    City are the ninth different team to end a day top of the pile this term, a statistic that prompted Guardiola to respond: "This is the Premier League. Welcome, this is the Premier League.

    "It's so tough. You see the teams up front, then look at West Ham and the incredible season they're doing, Leicester look unbeatable, and the other teams.

    "It's so tough, so tough for everyone, and every game is complicated.

    "It's important we have a good run and say, 'Okay, this is the reason why we are here, now the next one'."

    City moved ahead of United despite missing Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero at West Brom, with Ilkay Gundogan taking centre stage with a brace before the break.

    The midfielder has scored seven league goals since December 15, making this the most productive season of his career.

    Guardiola previously described Gundogan as "one of Europe's best players" and insists the Germany international is still performing at the same level, even if his goal rush is garnering greater attention.

    "Sometimes you have to score goals to get the recognition as a football player that he was all the time," Guardiola said of his number eight, who also created a single chance, made a tackle and an interception and won all five of his duels.

    "He's an exceptional human being, first of all – I know his parents, I understand why – and he's my neighbour, so we have a connection. And he's an outstanding player.

    "He's a guy who has played as a holding midfielder – so, so clever – and when he plays close to the box, he has the right tempo to make the run.

    "It's not arriving in the box 10 times or 20 times, one metre before or one metre later, you have to arrive at the right tempo and the right time. He's so good.

    "And when he arrives, he has the calm to slow down the action to make a decision. I'm happy for him. He deserves the best."

    Gundogan has never started more than 23 games in a Premier League campaign but has always retained Guardiola's backing.

    "I would say improvement is not the case," he said.

    "Always he showed his level, except the first season when he had ACL and we struggled a lot to settle him in the team because he was injured. Every time he played, he played at a high level."

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    "I haven't spoken to [Arsenal technical director Edu] or the club in the last few hours but we're very positive that we'll finalise the deal."

    After a dismal run of one victory in 10 league matches between October and December, Arsenal are unbeaten in their past five Premier League games and have won four of them.

    Arteta indicated that the upturn in form has restored belief to his squad, saying: "Football games are always judged by the result and that affects the confidence.

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    Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl lambasted his side's defending after they succumbed to a third defeat in six league games.

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    "The first was a mistake in the build-up, but then still we had the chance to defend it and we didn't do it, and then the second one was similar.

    "It's not the way we can defend, we can do it much better and we know this. After being down one at half-time it's difficult to come back. We had chances to do it, but also the final quality was not good enough.

    "We know we are a good side when we play a perfect game, but today we were far off this."

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