Pep Guardiola has laughed off suggestions he should be concerned about the number of chances Erling Haaland has missed this season.

The Manchester City manager claims anyone who says the prolific Norwegian has become wasteful will be proved wrong – and forced to apologise – soon enough.

Haaland scored 52 goals in an extraordinary debut campaign at City last season and, on the face of it, has started this one strongly too with seven in eight appearances.

Yet analysis shows he has missed 12 ‘big chances’ this term, nine of them being in his last two outings against West Ham and Red Star Belgrade. After eight games last season he had scored 12 goals, with eight ‘big chances’ missed.

“I will not sleep tonight!” Guardiola joked when these numbers were put to him at a press conference to preview the champions Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

“He has had incredible chances and he could have scored 14-15 goals now. What is important is he always says, ‘I have the chance, I have the chance, I have the chance. The problem is when I do not have chances, or I do not get balls or I am in the wrong position’.

“My advice is don’t criticise Erling too much. Criticise the full-back, the central defender or the manager, but never, never the striker who scored all those goals because he will and then you will be in a position where you have to apologise to him.”

Guardiola concedes Haaland was not fully fit at the start of the season, but that is not unexpected after last year’s exertions.

He said: “No (he was not fully fit) – it is quite simple – but in the pre-season I cannot expect him to be fully fit.

“Normally the new players come and are fully fit earlier. When you don’t start the last season, you are fitter earlier.

“When you win the treble maybe you think, ‘I wait a week longer to be completely fit’. It is a question of time.

“Erling is much better than in the first week. Every week he is better and everything is there.

“He is an incredible threat. He has had a lot of chances and that means we are playing good. Always I have the sense that the team are doing quite good by the number of chances Erling has.”

Kyle Walker will continue wearing the Manchester City captain’s armband for now – but has refused to reveal who the long-term skipper will be.

The England right-back has led City so far this term after previous incumbent Ilkay Gundogan left the club following last season’s treble success.

As in previous campaigns, the squad have held a vote to determine the make-up of the players’ leadership group, from which a senior figure usually emerges as captain.

Walker has revealed that this season the group comprises of himself, Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Rodri and Bernardo Silva but has given no further information.

That could suggest De Bruyne, who is currently sidelined through injury, is the player who will ultimately take up the mantle but Walker insists it does not matter who it is.

“There is a captain but I just feel out of respect to everyone that’s involved in it, there’s no numbers,” said the England international.

“We’re a team and we (the leadership group) are a team inside a team, and whoever wears the armband or has the armband on the day, is going to wear the armband until the time is right, until certain members in that captaincy group feel it’s right to announce the number or the order.

“That’s what we’ll do but, until then, I’m wearing the armband because I was the third captain last season and I’ll continue to wear it for the rest of the season until the time’s right.

“I don’t even think it’s really necessary. We’re a team inside a team.”

City, after winning their opening five Premier League games, continued their strong start to the season with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Walker feels City are constantly evolving as manager Pep Guardiola bids to keep his side ahead of their rivals.

He said: “I think that’s Pep being Pep. I think teams work us out, teams find the strategy of how they feel that they’re going to play or defend against us.

“When we can build up in different ways, I think that puts another tool in our toolbox where we can change it mid-game and it seems to be working for us.

“He’s got the key ingredient. He knows when’s right to let certain players go, bring players in, freshen things up here, give people challenges here and there.

“He’s got a fine balance and how to do it and it seems to work, not just here but at the number of teams that he’s been at because he’s been very successful.”

Julian Alvarez is revelling in his partnership with Erling Haaland in Manchester City’s attack.

The Argentinian World Cup winner continued his strong start to the season with two goals as the holders began their Champions League title defence with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.

An injury for Kevin De Bruyne has seen Alvarez handed a run of games in support of prolific centre forward Haaland and it is a role he is relishing.

“I am very happy with the goals, to help the team,” the 23-year-old said. “We are doing well, we are winning – which is the most important thing – and playing good games.

“I am trying to adapt and I continue growing in this position, where I am moving freely, to give the team another option and add to the attack.”

Alavarez was the dominant figure in City’s forward line as they threatened to overwhelm Red Star in their opening Group G game at the Etihad Stadium.

Yet despite creating a plethora of chances – with Haaland hitting the bar and goalkeeper Omri Glazer making several saves – City fell behind to an Osman Bukari strike just before half-time.

Alvarez began the fightback with a fine dinked finish after the restart and then put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead when his free-kick was inadvertently punched into the goal by Glazer.

Rodri wrapped up a thoroughly deserved victory with a typically composed finish 17 minutes from time but, again, City could have had several more. Haaland went the closest when he hit the goal frame for a second time.

“We played a good game,” said Alvarez. “It was important to start with a win and three points at home in this difficult competition. We are very happy.

“We had many chances we could not convert but Pep told us to keep doing what we were doing and the goals would come.

“It was the same in the previous game where we were losing and came back, so it was fine. We always try to stay calm, play well in the second half and win.”

Alvarez was not a regular starter last season, despite his starring role in his country’s World Cup triumph, but Guardiola believes he can do an important job in easing the goalscoring burden on Haaland.

Guardiola said: “It’s the same player as last season but being a World Cup winner doesn’t mean you have to play all the time.

“Last season we had Kevin and (Ilkay) Gundogan in that position. Kevin was in top form and Gundo was incredible.

“In that moment sometimes it was difficult to find spaces but I never had a doubt.

“Now Gundo has gone and Kevin unfortunately is injured. We need players to be close to Erling, don’t put all the responsibilities just on the shoulders of Erling to score all the goals.

“That’s why when Phil (Foden) has played there, when Julian plays there, we have the feeling that we create a lot of chances.”

Pep Guardiola felt his team were given a useful test after coming from behind to begin their Champions League defence with a 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade.

The holders were stunned when the Serbian champions claimed a shock lead on the stroke of half-time through Osman Bukari in Tuesday’s Group G clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Yet as they did in the Premier League at West Ham last weekend, they hit back to win after the break, this time with two goals from Julian Alvarez and one from Rodri.

City manager Guardiola said: “At the end, going in at half-time 1-0, after what we’ve done that’s nice – after winning the treble we need to be the type of champions who prove to ourselves that we are able to make a comeback.

“In this situation it’s nice to prove it. In both games we played incredible and immediately at the start of the second half.

“We have things to improve in general but that’s really, really good.”

Guardiola was particularly impressed with the performance of his goalscorers.

Alvarez has benefited from a run in the side this season while Rodri, match-winner in last season’s final, continues to excel.

Guardiola said of Alvarez: “His movement was so quick and he’s so young. What a signing the club have done.

“He has everything – fighting, goals, assists. Incredible. And he’s a lovely guy. Playing behind Erling (Haaland) he is an incredible threat.”

Rodri has developed into one of the best midfielders in the game during his time at City and Guardiola is in no doubt he is now at the top.

He said: “Yes, he’s the best – but hopefully he can be better. He has a good mentality and good things to improve.

“But we were lucky again that the club has signed these type of players.”

The downside for City was the loss of Bernardo Silva shortly before half-time with an unspecified injury.

Guardiola said: “I didn’t speak with the doctors but apparently for the next games he will not be able to play.”

The Portuguese joins an injury list that includes Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, John Stones and Mateo Kovacic.

Guardiola said: “When we have five important players – really, really important players – injured, to sustain that for a long time will be difficult. But it is what it is.

“We cannot have the salaries and budgets for transfers to have 55 players. It would be chaos for the clubs and they would be bankrupt. Sometimes it happens.”

Red Star coach Barak Bachar admitted City were the better side.

He said: “We tried, we fought, but we conceded an early goal in the second half. They should have scored more.

“They are a great team, they have exceptional players. After we conceded it was difficult to maintain the pace, because we never play at this pace in our league. We learned a lot from this match.”

Lamine Yamal has burst onto the scene for Barcelona and former Spain midfielder Marcos Senna believes the teenager could emulate Lionel Messi's Blaugrana exploits.

Yamal has enjoyed a meteoric rise into professional football this season, becoming Barcelona's youngest starter in La Liga and the youngest player to assist in the competition in the 21st century.

The Blaugrana talent also marked his name as the youngest debutant and scorer for Spain in the 7-1 victory over Georgia this month, aged just 16 years and 57 days.

Only two players have scored for a European nation at a younger age (Sam Johnston in 1882 for Northern Ireland and Jozsef Horvath in 1906 for Hungary), and Senna believes Yamal will go to the top.

Senna, a former Villarreal midfielder and 28-cap Spain international, told Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit: "He has had a big impact.

"He is really young with big talent. Obviously, he has to be very well looked after, like cutting a diamond.

"It's important not to rush, so that in the future he can be one of the best, like Messi himself, who left Barcelona.

"He has already shown that he has a great future."

Senna had a fine career in Spain as a La Liga regular as well as being a part of La Roja's European Championship-winning side in 2008.

The 47-year-old played with a golden generation of Spanish footballers, and picked out three midfielders as the best he has lined up alongside.

"I think it would be really unfair to choose just one," he responded when asked about his former team-mates.

"There are many players I played with. I can name a few. For example, at Villarreal, Riquelme, was one of the great players I had the opportunity to play with.

"Santi Cazorla and others in the Spanish national team. Andres Iniesta was very important and created a legacy.

"They are historic players and special players. In my list, I can fit many more but I gave you the names of a few players from Villarreal and the national team."

Yet Messi – who Yamal has drawn comparisons to – remains Senna's greatest challenge.

Senna said: "A big part of my career was in Spain, at Villarreal. I was there for 11 years. During this period I met Barcelona's Pep Guardiola, and I didn't even have the chance to get a draw against them!

"It was a very complicated period when Messi came along. And let's say that was the biggest difficulty we had.

"Messi was a revolution of the century. For me, it was the biggest challenge as a player."

Pep Guardiola admits he would have had a “big, big problem” if Kyle Walker had left Manchester City in the summer.

The England right-back came close to leaving the treble winners for Bayern Munich but ultimately opted to stay and this week extended his contract at the Etihad Stadium until 2026.

The 33-year-old had a spell out of favour last season but has started the new campaign strongly and Guardiola is pleased to have retained his services after losing experienced pair Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez.

The City manager said: “After Gundo and Riyad, losing Bernardo (Silva) and Kyle would have have been a big, big problem.

“It’s not about the quality – the skills you can find quite similar, or different players can help you – but there are some things in the locker room that are so difficult to replace.

“These guys have a lot of experience in the important moments of important games. You know exactly how he’s going to respond in the bad moments.

“It would have been a big loss. That’s why as a club of course we fought for him to stay with us.”

Walker joined City from Tottenham in 2017 and has since won 15 trophies, including the Champions League and five Premier League titles.

Guardiola believes he has matured into a far better player than when he arrived and recently underlined his qualities with his response to a calamitous error last month.

Walker was at fault as Sheffield United claimed a late equaliser against City in their Premier League clash at Bramall Lane but then recovered to tee up Rodri’s dramatic winner.

Guardiola said: “He made a wrong decision when they equalised but, right after the equaliser, the next two actions came from Kyle in the byline. It was a goal. What a top, top player.

“He forgets what happened, says, ‘OK I’m going to win the game’. That defines the big, big players.

“No doubt he’s a much, much better player than seven years ago when he arrived. That is clear.

“Everyone makes mistakes but he has an incredible heart. And he’s a really nice guy, really nice, always tries to help.

“When a player is injured, he always calls him. I was at home (after back surgery) and he called me twice. ‘How you feel, Pep?’ This counts a lot in the group of people.

“The reason why we have a lot of success? The quality of human beings that we have.”

Walker has captained City so far this season and, with Kevin De Bruyne currently sidelined, could be the favoured choice to succeed Gundogan in the role full-time.

A vote among the squad and backroom staff – in which Guardiola will not participate – is due to be held in the coming days.

Guardiola said: “The vote will be taken the next days and the players will decide. It belongs to the players, not to me. What they decide, I’m fine (with).”

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is targeting more trophies after signing a new contract with the treble winners just a couple of months after almost leaving for Bayern Munich.

The 33-year-old, who had a spell out of favour last spring and was left out of the starting line-up for the Champions League final in June, has agreed a two-year extension.

Walker had entered the final year of his existing deal when the Bundesliga champions came along with an attractive package but the England international ultimately decided to stay put.

“I’m thrilled to sign a new deal. My future is with Manchester City and that is the best thing for me,” said Walker, who has won 15 trophies with the club.

“I’ve enjoyed every single moment of the past six years at this fantastic club.

“The treble-winning season is one I will never forget and we’re ready to go again and try to win more trophies.

“We’ve got to demand that. We’ve set the bar and each year it’s how do you get better? How do we get better? We seem to be doing that each year.

“We’ve probably gone to the top of the top where there is only down because are we going to go and win a treble again? Who knows? You know, we could do.

“The odds say that we’re not going to, but we need to make sure that we’re there competing in the later stages in all competitions and fighting for the silverware.

“But I think one thing that we’ve done really well here is we take one game at a time. We don’t plan for the future. We plan for the present and the present starts on Saturday against West Ham.

“I am delighted to continue at a club that competes for trophies every year and I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring.”

Director of football Txiki Begiristain hailed a player he classed as the best right-back in the world.

“He is an outstanding footballer and his speed, strength and experience make him such an important member of our squad,” he said.

“For me, he is the best right-back in the world, a player with a unique set of attributes. He brings a very special dynamic to our team.

“Kyle has been a huge part of our recent success, and we are confident that he will help us compete for trophies in the upcoming seasons.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has returned to the club after recovering from his recent back operation.

The PA news agency understands the Catalan has now resumed duties after three weeks away.

Assistant boss Juanma Lillo took charge of first-team affairs as the 52-year-old travelled to Spain to undergo a routine procedure last month.

In Guardiola’s absence the treble winners beat Sheffield United and Fulham to maintain their 100 per cent start in the Premier League.

City’s squad were beginning to reconvene on Wednesday following the international break.

They return to Premier League action at West Ham on Saturday before their latest Champions League campaign begins at home to Red Star Belgrade next Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola or Roberto De Zerbi would struggle to succeed with Italy's women's team, given the country's "embarrassing" attitude towards the women's game. 

That is the view of former Azzurre coach Carolina Morace, who has called for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to enact a "serious project" after their disappointing World Cup campaign.

Italy slumped to an early exit in Australia and New Zealand, finishing third in Group G following a dramatic loss to South Africa in their third match, with the Banyana Banyana advancing in second.

While Italy have long been a powerhouse in the men's game, winning four World Cups and two European Championships, the women's team have never clinched a major title.

They are yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals of a World Cup, failing to qualify for four of the last six editions, and have struggled at the Euros since finishing as runners-up during Morace's playing career in 1993 and 1997.

Asked about Italy's lack of success, Morace told Stats Perform: "People have always been curious. I remember my generation winning against Spain, against England, against France. 

"In fact, my generation has been runners-up in Europe twice. From there the other countries started. Our country didn't start with the projects because nobody believed in women's football. 

"Unfortunately, today there are still the same bosses as when I played and if they weren't in favour of women's football then, they still remain against it. 

"Even today, some Italian executives talk about a smaller field, bigger goals. These things are embarrassing because it means they have never seen a women's match. 

"Unfortunately in Italy, women's football is still seen as a waste of money rather than a resource. England is a country that has shown women's football can be a resource if you make the right projects and the right investments. You have to start planning." 

Reflecting on Italy's showing at the World Cup, Morace added: "I believe that ours was a failed World Cup in terms of the game.

"Surely even if Guardiola or De Zerbi were to coach the women's national team, the results would be the same. We need to broaden the base. The Federation must start a serious project. 

"The first problem is that you can't compete with 35,000 players against over 100,000 players in Spain, Germany, France, England. 

"It's impossible for me to criticise the players and the coach. In my opinion, it's not fair. What I'm sorry about in this World Cup is that no one has taken responsibility for what happened." 

Milena Bertolini left her role as Italy coach after the World Cup, and a successor is yet to be appointed ahead of September's Women's Nations League meetings with Switzerland and Sweden, the latter of whom took bronze in Australia and New Zealand.

Morace is concerned by the situation, particularly given suggestions the FIGC may appoint a male coach without experience in women's football. 

"In September we have some important matches in an important group, we have to play against Sweden and against Switzerland and we don't have a coach yet," Morace added.

"I have now heard that the Federation wants a man. Very good, there are some competent men who have been in our world for many years and who have done well, but I haven't heard the names of these coaches yet. 

"They have names of people who have never won a women's match, who don't know what women's football is. 

"We saw the Saudi Arabia men's coach who now coaches France [Herve Renard] and he couldn't possibly do what he thought he could, because it's not that simple when you don't know the environment."

Juanma Lillo has offered insight into Pep Guardiola’s insatiable appetite to keep improving himself and those around him.

Lillo rejoined his fellow Spaniard’s backroom staff at treble winners Manchester City this summer after a year away.

This weekend he will be filling in for the inspirational City manager as the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss takes time out to recuperate from back surgery.

Guardiola is due to return to Manchester after the September international break and Lillo expects him to be as hungry as ever.

“Pep is always very open, moment to moment, and he decides he always wants to improve and implement new things,” said Lillo, who will oversee the team at Sheffield United on Sunday and at home to Fulham next week.

“That sense is very sharp. He’s very intelligent. He grasps not only what he’s going to do, but with whom he’s going to do it.

“That helps to improve everyone that is around him. We all improve.

“We all try and to pitch in for Pep to always be there, but he doesn’t need a lot of input because he’s constantly building and debating and generating ideas.”

Lillo, 57, has had a long and varied coaching career with jobs in countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Japan and China as well as at home in Spain.

He was actually Guardiola’s manager at Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa almost two decades ago and knew even then his former charge would make a good coach.

“We’ve been working hand in hand for many years,” said Lillo, who first joined Guardiola at City in 2020 before leaving for a job in Qatar two years later.

“He was my player back in the day. We have a relationship that goes all the way back and we understand things in the same direction.

“When he was a player it was the same. He already had a true vision. It’s very difficult to find someone such as him with such capacity and such willingness.

“He was already a bit of a coach when he was a player.”

Juanma Lillo will introduce himself to the Premier League at large on Sunday as he takes charge of champions Manchester City in Pep Guardiola’s absence.

Guardiola’s little-known number two will call the shots from the dugout as the treble winners travel to Sheffield United without their influential manager.

Guardiola is recuperating in Spain after undergoing back surgery earlier this week and so Lillo, who only rejoined the club this summer after a year away, finds himself in the spotlight.

The experienced 57-year-old has had a varied and interesting coaching career, working in countries including Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Japan and China as well as his native Spain.

He first joined Guardiola’s backroom staff after the departure of Mikel Arteta in 2020 and spent two years at the Etihad Stadium before leaving to take up a post in Qatar.

City swept to Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup glory without him but Guardiola sought to bring him back after the exits of Enzo Maresca and Rodolfo Borrell at the end of the campaign.

The pair have been friends since Guardiola played under Lillo at Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa and were keen to work together again.

“When I left was more of a ‘see you later’,” said Lillo at a press conference. “He’s someone very special to me, not only in footballing terms.

“I am here to be with someone who’s been very important in my life.”

Lillo recognises he has returned to a very strong set-up and is determined to do his best to ensure it remains that way.

He said: “A good team without good players is impossible, but at the moment we have good players and a really good coach. It’s very well managed.

“The way we train has a lot to do towards the way we play. That’s how we do it.

“Things might not always go our way, but I can assure you that we’re going to continue doing things the right way.”

Bernardo Silva, who signed a new contract at City this week, is available again for the trip to Bramall Lane after illness. New signing Jeremy Doku could come into the reckoning but John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne are sidelined.

Pep Guardiola will be absent from the touchline for Manchester City’s next two matches after undergoing an operation to correct his “severe back pain”.

According to City, their treble-winning manager has been struggling with the injury for a while and flew out to Barcelona for an “emergency” but “routine” surgery on Tuesday.

Guardiola will remain in Barcelona during his convalescence and is expected to miss City’s matches against Sheffield United this Sunday and Fulham on September 2, with assistant manager Juanma Lillo stepping into the breach.

City anticipate Guardiola returning to the dugout after the international break for the visit to West Ham on September 16.

A Manchester City statement said: “Pep Guardiola has today undergone a routine operation on a back problem.

“The Manchester City boss has been suffering with severe back pain for some time lately, and flew out to Barcelona for emergency surgery performed by Dr Mireia Illueca. The surgery was a success, and Pep will now recover and rehabilitate in Barcelona.

“In his absence, assistant manager Juanma Lillo will oversee coaching of the first team on the training field and will assume duties on the touchline until Pep’s return.

“He is expected to return after the forthcoming international break. Everyone at Manchester City wishes Pep a speedy recovery, and look forward to seeing him back in Manchester soon.”

Pep Guardiola claims the hunger shown by his Manchester City players so far this season has amazed him.

After the draining end to the treble-winning 2022-23 campaign, there were fears City could be off the pace come the start of the new term.

Any drop in energy levels, however, seems to have been more than compensated for by a strong desire and focus, even after the loss of key players.

On Saturday, City followed up their European Super Cup triumph over Sevilla in Athens three days previously by beating Newcastle to maintain their winning start in the Premier League.

“We are who we are,” said City manager Guardiola. “(There are) a lot of young players on the bench and that’s the difference – the guys who want to be here are here. The difference is always here (heart) – at the top of our bodies.

“The people respond because they see still we are there and I like it. We won already one title and we are six points from six, we’ve scored goals we don’t concede many chances.

“When you see that after what we have done, what can you say? Apart from thank you my friends, I love you so much.

“When you have that it is because a team is so special. Otherwise we cannot do what we have done for many years, it’s impossible. Saturday amazed me and made me happy.”

City have lost influential playmaker Kevin De Bruyne to an injury that could sideline him for up to five months while John Stones and Bernardo Silva were also absent at the weekend.

With Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez having left over the summer, and Aymeric Laporte another possible departure, Guardiola’s squad is taking on a different shape.

Guardiola said: “Over the next one or two months the club have to take some important decisions with the squad. We didn’t expect (the situation) with Kevin and we didn’t expect with Riyad.”

Pep Guardiola has claimed Manchester City would be “killed” if they spent the sort of sums being coughed up by Chelsea over the last 12 months.

City’s spending has long been scrutinised since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008, with the club still facing 115 Premier League charges for alleged breaches of financial regulations.

But Guardiola insisted their approach had always been prudent, in contrast to that taken by Todd Boehly’s ownership group at Stamford Bridge, where the arrival of former City academy star Romeo Lavia this week had taken spending to nearly £1billion since the start of last summer.

City, who have signed Josko Gvardiol and Mateo Kovacic in this window, could go back into the market with Kevin De Bruyne facing up to five months out and uncertainty over Cole Palmer’s future, but Guardiola said they would only pay fair prices.

“I couldn’t sit here if we spent what Chelsea spent in the last two transfer windows – you would kill me,” Guardiola said. “You will kill me, that is for sure. We’d be under scrutiny like you couldn’t imagine.

“When people say just Manchester City and Pep Guardiola buy players, I didn’t know I had a lot of money in my pocket to buy all the players I have.

“We have to see what happens in the market and if we can do it and to pay what we believe is fair.

“We wanted (Harry) Maguire and didn’t buy him because we didn’t want to pay, we wanted (Marc) Cucurella and didn’t pay, we wanted Alexis Sanchez and didn’t pay.

“In the end we will pay what is fair to do it. Otherwise, we have the academy.”

Guardiola was adamant he was not criticising Chelsea, but the Catalan clearly feels a sense of double standards.

“They can do what they want,” he added. “I don’t criticise Chelsea for one second. I’m saying, if we do it, we are dead, all around the world. They can do whatever they want…

“If they want to spend, I don’t know, £900million since (Boehly) arrived, 900 more, 900 more. They have it. The business is the business. They sell a lot this season so they can do it.

“I don’t like when they criticise me, what we do, what I have to say. Everyone has their own business and everyone does what is best for the club.

“Everybody wins. Tell me the truth: are you enjoying a lot the transfer window? This player, the other one, every few minutes on Sky TV, a new player here, new player there. It’s so funny.”

This summer’s transfer window has been shaken up by the influx of cash from the ambitious Saudi Pro League, with City having sold Riyad Mahrez to Al-Ahli and accepted an offer from Al-Nassr for Aymeric Laporte.

“Everybody complains about Saudi Arabia, the clubs, then they open the door, red carpet, ‘What do you want my friend?'” Guardiola said. “They sell everything. They are so happy. Everyone complains but everyone opens the door.”

With De Bruyne set for surgery on a hamstring injury, Guardiola said he was speaking to director of football Txiki Begiristain about their options in the window.

“We maybe need to add someone else,” Guardiola said. “My opinion is I like a small squad. But the blow from Kevin changes the perspective. He is a very important player and it is not one or two weeks.

“It’s four or five months, he’s 32 years old and he needs to be physical because of the way he plays physically. So we have to reflect a bit on the squad and think about what we have to do but we have to control.

“But we are not the only ones spending a lot of money in the last few years.”

Pep Guardiola is targeting the Club World Cup to complete the set after Manchester City overcame a sloppy start to beat Sevilla on spot-kicks to lift the UEFA Super Cup.

Two months on from becoming the second English club in history to win the treble, the Champions League holders faced the record Europa League winners in Greece.

Sevilla took the lead through Youssef En-Nesyri’s towering header and had numerous chances to extend their lead before City struck back through Cole Palmer’s looping header.

The Super Cup ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and Guardiola’s men triumphed on penalties 5-4 after Nemanja Gudelj smashed the last spot-kick of the shoot-out off the bar.

This was the first time City have won the competition and the Spaniard is determined to add the Club World Cup to their cabinet in December.

“Of course we are not in the best, best moment, I would say,” Guardiola said after winning his fourth Super Cup as a coach.

“But knowing a little bit the players and the mentality of the backroom staff, I had a feeling that we will try.

“We are really pleased to have already one title in this season. Really pleased for the club – this title we didn’t have and now we have it.

“We miss just one to finish all circle and be able for this club to win all the titles we can have. It’s happening in December, when we go to Saudi Arabia to play there, the (Club) World Cup.

“I would say really, really pleased. A tight game like happened in the (Champions League) final against Inter, a tight game that we lost in the last minute against Arsenal (in the Community Shield). Football in these stages, in that moment, in that period is a coin (flip).”

This was an energy-sapping night for City in hot and humid Piraeus, where the match kicked off at 10pm local time and finished in the early hours of Thursday morning.

It is a quick turnaround after a tough test, leading Guardiola to take a pop at the Premier League for scheduling their next match against Newcastle on Saturday evening.

“Of course tomorrow will be even more happier than today,” he said, with City due to fly back to the north west on Thursday.

“Recover, not one drop of alcohol today. Recover as much as possible because again, from Greece, thank you so much for the Premier League to let us play on Saturday. And not on Sunday and Monday. Thank you so much.”

The star man for City was player of the match Palmer, who followed his fine finish in the eventual Community Shield shoot-out loss to Arsenal by scoring a clever header in Greece.

The 21-year-old has been subject of speculation this summer and Guardiola ruled out a loan move for the home-grown talent.

“The opinion I had when he arrived is he wanted to leave, but now I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

“I don’t think a loan is going to happen. He’s going to stay or going to sell, but I think a loan is not going to happen.

“He has a character. It’s not easy to play against defenders like (Marcos) Acuna, for example, who is a top defender.

“It’s not easy, it’s a final. He’s a young player playing in these stages. It’s not easy for these guys. He played really, really good and made a fantastic goal, too.”

As for Sevilla, the shoot-out heartbreak represented a sixth successive Super Cup loss.

Head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said: “To make a good plan against a team as good as City is very complicated. I really wish we’d played higher up the pitch and put them under more pressure.

“When we had the chances to score the second goal, we didn’t take them. But I really believe we played a good game, and we probably created more chances than them.”

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