Guardiola ready to stay and rebuild ageing City squad
Centre-back and left-back likely to be priority targets But manager rules out move back to the Etihad for Sancho
Pep Guardiola has admitted Manchester City need to rebuild this summer if they are to wrest back the Premier League title from Liverpool but ruled out the possibility of Jadon Sancho returning.
City are due to form a guard of honour tonight when Liverpool visit the Etihad Stadium for their first game since dethroning Guardiola’s side as champions.
With midfielder David Silva set to depart at the end of the season after a decade at the club, 12 months after captain Vincent Kompany’s departure, winger Leroy Sane joining Bayern Munich for £55 million and Sergio Aguero, 32, and Fernandinho, 35, in the final year of their contracts, Guardiola has conceded that his squad need regenerating.
City can still add the FA Cup and Champions League to the Carabao Cup they won in March but, having seen his team fall 23 points behind Liverpool following back-to-back title wins and with an ageing squad profile, Guardiola is targeting reinforcements in the transfer market.
The situation is complicated by the financial uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 crisis, and the club still awaiting the outcome of their Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal against a two-season European ban by Uefa, but Guardiola was originally aiming for between three and five new signings.
“Yeah, in some [ways] … not for the lack of quality [in the squad] but for the absence of Vinny, David – Dinho [Fernandinho] and Sergio have one year left but I don’t know if they will extend or not,” the City manager said when asked if rebuilding would be necessary.
“Some players have to be replaced. But it’s not a disaster thing, or bad thing, it’s part of football for the age [of the squad], for the normal situation and circumstances.
“It happens in other clubs – players who are considered important decide to leave because they don’t want to be here. That was the case for Jadon Sancho and Leroy, especially Leroy because Jadon was in the academy. If guys don’t want to stay, they have to leave – we are not getting the best of these players if, in their mind, they are not happy here. So this is the first thing and the second [factor] is with the age [of the squad] but it happened and we have to rebuild it. It happens at clubs around the world. You never can be eternal. We have to accept it and try to take the right decisions as a club to try to maintain the level that we have here.”
City’s hierarchy will also seek clarity over Guardiola’s future, with the manager out of contract next season, but the Catalan appeared to signal his appetite for the regeneration project. A centre-half and leftback are likely to be priorities.
“We have an incredible six or seven weeks ahead of us – we have exceptional players and we have to be all together to fight for this – but after we finish [the season] we reflect,” he said.
“I want to take a little time to think with the club what we have to do, which players we should replace – Leroy and the others, we have to see what happens – but not judge on the fact we conceded 10 more goals [this season] just because of the back four.”
However, Guardiola has ruled out a move for Sancho, who left the club for Borussia Dortmund in an £8million deal in 2017. City’s local rivals, Manchester United, have an interest in Sancho but not at Dortmund’s £115 million valuation.
Asked if City could bring back Sancho, Guardiola said: “No, he decided to leave, why should he decide to come back? We wanted him to stay. When he decided to move to Dortmund, it’s not because he is going to decide to come back one year later. It would make no sense.”
On his way: David Silva leaves Manchester City at the end of the season 10 years after joining