WAT­FORD V CITY Pep can’t stop Diaz from join­ing Real

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By JAMES ROB­SON james.rob­son@men-news.co.uk @james­rob­sonMEN james.rob­son@men-news.co.uk @james­rob­sonMEN

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.”

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