Pep Guardiola has surprisingly claimed that much-coveted Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves is out of Manchester City’s price range.
City have been linked regularly with the Portuguese midfielder, who has been one of the stars of Wolves’ impressive first season back in the Premier League.
But while City boss Guardiola would like to strengthen his central midfield options, he says transfer fees being mentioned in relation to 21-year-old Neves are beyond the champions.
Guardiola said: “A month ago I started reading ‘Ruben Neves, £100million’. That is not going to happen. We are not going to pay £100million for a holding midfielder.
“We have a limit and cannot spend more so that’s why we need to be careful with the players and try next season to see what we can do to improve.”
In any case, Guardiola has intimated he is not sure if Neves, who City will face when Wolves visit the Etihad Stadium on Monday, would fit into his preferred system.
He said: “He’s an excellent player. It involves playing with two holding midfielders – not just one – but he’s an excellent player.”
Another player frequently linked with City is Ajax’s Frenkie De Jong, but Guardiola has refused to add credence to the speculation.
He said: “I’m not talking about the case of the Ajax player because he is an Ajax player. I don’t talk about players not here, never did and never will.”
A holding midfielder would be a priority for Guardiola because City currently have no natural replacement for Fernandinho.
The 33-year-old Brazilian was badly missed as City suffered costly back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester over Christmas.
Guardiola said: “It’s not easy to find the specific quality of the players.
“There are players who can play in that role but, specifically Fernandinho’s role, it’s so difficult to find. He knows the Premier League and, after three years together here, he knows everything and that’s so important.
“But, of course, for the next season it’s an important target to find. He’ll be 34 and he cannot play every few days.”
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