Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Pep provides update on Man City striker hunt; backs Xavi to succeed at Barca

James Holland
Pep Guardiola Man City

Man City boss Pep Guardiola has provided an update on the club’s hunt for a new striker, while also responding to Xavi’s imminent appointment as Barcelona manager.

The Citizens lost Sergio Aguero in the summer as he joined Barcelona on a free transfer. Gabriel Jesus, widely thought of as his long-term replacement, then decided he wanted to play on the wing.

That left Guardiola having to operate without a proper number nine. So far this campaign he has played Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling in the false number nine role. It has worked most of the time as Man City are on 20 points from ten Premier League games. They are also top of their Champions League group, one point ahead of French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

However, the reigning Premier League champions may need a permanent striker if they are to compete with Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. The Blues already have a five-point advantage on City.

Guardiola was asked about the potential need for a centre-forward ahead of City’s clash against rivals Man Utd this weekend. He said (via Manchester Evening News): “I don’t know, I’m not a magician to know what will happen, if I knew I’d tell you. First of all I’d tell Man City.

“Just trust a bit – [look] how many goals we scored last year without a striker because Sergio was injured. Maybe in the future we will buy a proper striker, a number nine who will score goals, who knows.

“We are who we are, we move forward in this sense. I spoke many times. We wanted to do it but could not do it, we have enough players.”

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Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic is one option for the Manchester club. He looks set to move on next summer after rejecting the offer of a new contract.

Guardiola was then quizzed about Man Utd. They have been going through a turbulent time lately, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer linked with the sack.

“Congratulations for United,” the Spaniard said. “They do their results against us, they do quite similar to what they have done week by week, incredible physicality, people upfront with abilties to win games by themselves. Good runners in behind especially when [Bruno] Fernandes has the ball.

“Man United, what should I say? The last century [it is] always a good team with quality. This season they win games, last season wasn’t bad, what we have done finally in the Premier League. Three more points – we prepare well this afternoon.”

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Pep sends luck to Xavi

Guardiola also sent his ‘best wishes’ to Xavi as the former midfielder prepares to take over at Barcelona.

Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano claims that his appointment is a ‘done deal’. Xavi’s current club, Qatari outfit Al Sadd, have released a statement confirming that the €5m release clause has been met.

“Is it confirmed?” Guardiola asked. “I didn’t speak with him. I would love to do it but if finally the deal is done, of course best wishes and I’m sure he’ll do a good job.”

Xavi will have a huge task on his hands. The Catalan giants are already nine points behind league leaders Real Sociedad, having played one less game. They are also six points behind Bayern in their Champions League group.

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