Pep Guardiola puts positive spin on Brahim Diaz departure

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Brahim Diaz’s departure for Real Madrid is a sign of good work being done by the club.

City had attempted to persuade the 19-year-old Spaniard to extend his contract with the club he joined aged 14, but admitted defeat this week and sold him to Madrid in a deal which could rise to £22million.

Asked if he was disappointed to lose Diaz, Guardiola said: “No. I said many times, we did with Brahim the same we did with Phil (Foden) and Jadon (Sancho), we did absolutely everything but in the end the only one who decides to stay is Phil so that’s all.

“We wish him all the best. Of course going to Real Madrid is not a bad step and hopefully he can get the minutes he didn’t get in the last period for many reasons. Nice guy.

“On the other side, again, congratulations for our academy, they are working so well and in the end this is what happens, important teams in Europe want to sign our players because it’s working really well.”

Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Burton is the sort of match in which Diaz might have expected to make one of his rare first-team appearances, and Guardiola admitted it was too soon to say if his team might be short-handed if they continue to progress in several competitions.

“Hopefully not,” he said. “With four competitions still, everybody will play, everybody will be involved. We have games every three or four days. We need everybody.”

The League Cup was the first trophy Guardiola lifted in England, but he admitted it was low on the priority order.

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 07: Brahim Diaz is presented to members of the press by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez after signing for Real Madrid at estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 07, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

“Winning is important, we cannot deny it, we are here in the semi-finals and it’s one step to go back to Wembley, that’s why we take it seriously in that game once we are here,” he said.

“It’s true the Carabao Cup is the more local competition. Everybody is happy to win but nobody is sad if they go out in that competition. Once we are here, we are going to try.”

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Meanwhile, Guardiola rejected claims he had ordered the grass to be grown longer at the Etihad Stadium ahead of last week’s 2-1 win over Liverpool which reignited the Premier League title race.

“I am not the groundskeeper,” he said. “I never did. If they want to play quick, we want to play quicker. Always we try to put water (on the pitch) but it’s not necessary here with the weather. We want to cut the field always.

“It’s better conditions for both teams. When this happens, you do the best for your opponents. We have to respect them with the rules.

“I never speak with the groundsmen…I trust the groundsmen. I never made a phone call to say ‘do this to damage our opponents’.”

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