Pep Guardiola comment on Barcelona transfer interest in Man City stars is telling – Simon Bajkowski
Heard the one about Barcelona splurging loads of money in the transfer market? No, thought not.
The Catalan club were so broke in summer that they had to let their greatest player leave without a fee and had to wait months to register Sergio Aguero because they didn’t have the money; Aguero was one of two Manchester City players that they signed along with Eric Garcia – both on free transfers – despite months of making their interest known in several others, floating the idea of part-exchanges when it was made clear they would actually need money to buy them.
For all the recovery efforts being made by the new regime, Barcelona are still in a financial hole. They can flutter their eyelashes at anyone they like at the Etihad but it doesn’t mean they have the resources to buy anyone from one of the most valuable squads in world football.
Very little then should be made of Pep Guardiola, a son of the club, telling local reporters over there this week that “if Barcelona are interested in any of our players, I am convinced that they can get them. Barca continues to be an attractive club, more than attractive.”
That didn’t work in summer and it won’t work in January because the world revolves around money rather than romance. This is also, lest we forget, the man who talked up how good United were before Saturday’s mismatch at Old Trafford.
A far more telling quote from the manager came when he was asked if he would be selling any of his City players to Barcelona and said: “Honestly I have no idea. I don’t know anything. Not that I would tell you anyway.” Guardiola almost never gives anything away in regard to transfer news and these latest comments are no exception.
The elephant in the Etihad is, of course, Raheem Sterling.
Sterling is not happy when he isn’t starting games and Guardiola has rarely turned to him for eight months and counting, having previously held him as one of the first names on every teamsheet. The ambitious 26-year-old would like to stay at the club but has confirmed he would be open to a move away for more game time; he has also spoken previously of the allure of playing in a foreign country for the lifestyle (and weather) it would bring.
A January move, temporary or otherwise, cannot be ruled out on that basis, with the player only likely to get more unhappy if he continues to be overlooked. However, as was the case with Bernardo Silva and others in the summer transfer window, Guardiola has made it clear that if any player wants to leave they will have to bring an acceptable proposal from another club to the negotiating table – and it is currently very hard to see how Barcelona could put one of those together.
City’s manager will always have a soft spot for his boyhood club, but his employers have much less room for sentiment in their business.