WATFORD V CITY Pep can’t stop Diaz from joining Real
PEP Guardiola has urged Brahim Diaz to resist the lure of Real Madrid.
But the City manager admits he may not be able to prevent the starlet from following Jadon Sancho out of the Etihad to one of Europe’s giants.
Back-to-back Champions League winners Real have identified Diaz as one of the most exciting prospects in Europe.
And despite the 18-year-old being under contract until 2019, Guardiola raised some doubt over City’s hopes of keeping hold of him in the face of interest from the Bernabeu.
Sancho rejected a professional deal this summer, completing an £8m deadline day move to Dortmund.
And Guardiola has raised the prospect of Diaz departing too.
“We want him,” said the City manager. “But today the market is the market, the wishes from the clubs, maybe we can’t control it.
“I spoke with him many times. I know his commitment to stay here and play for Manchester City.
“City gave him the opportunity to play. It’s not easy to play at the top level teams.
“In the end, his performance on the pitch decides it.”
Interest from Real could prompt City to offer Diaz improved terms on the deal he signed last season.
Guardiola insists he will have no control over his contract.
“Many clubs here the managers control these things,” he said. “But I am not involved in that.” PEP Guardiola has told his players they must believe they can bridge the gap to Europe’s elite.
And he claims today’s clash with Watford will show him much about his team’s prospects this season.
City have scored nine goals in their last two games - beating Liverpool 5-0 last week and securing a 4-0 Champions League victory at Feyenoord.
Both were significant for Guardiola.
And in its own way, he says the trip to Vicarage Road will be a barometer of City’s prospects.
“Last season we were not able to win many games against the top five, top six in the Premier League,” he said. “We didn’t win one game away Champions League. “First of all I start with that, to believe. To believe we can play good football, but also that we can beat them, we can compete, even in the Champions League. “With City, I feel now, we have good players that become a big team. Watford, for example, is a big test for us. The big clubs win the games and that is the big difference to the big teams. “In this situation, the teams left at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and the other big teams, like Madrid, and Juventus of Turin, in this kind of situation, a game every three days, they are there, they make a professional performance, score a goal in the right moment and win the game. “That is the process we have to discover. When we are able to do that, then I will feel we have made a step forward to become a better team.” Guardiola insists belief is the I Pep Guardiola in the key ingredient to replicating his success at Barca and Bayern at City.
“I think every player believes, but sometimes in a bad situation or moment we were not able to overcome the situation,” he said. “You have to do that.
“You have to have a strong mentality so when you see the players they have the personality to play on the big stages.”
Marco Silva’s Watford have been one of the surprise packages of the season and can go top with a victory against City.
But Guardiola believes he has got his attacking blend just right – even after missing out on Kylian Mbappe and Alexis Sanchez this summer.
He said: “A team is a good team when they have the quality to score goals, but also has other options.
“Last season we didn’t have that, and that’s why we suffered.
“That’s why this season we are going to try more with Raz (Raheem Sterling) in the middle, with Leroy (Sane) more in the middle, the guys with the mentality to score goals to be more closer together, to try to score more goals.”