Xavi, Lewandowski and golf – Man City will be stronger for Pep Guardiola’s trip to Catalonia – Joe Bray

Social media reacted predictably when pictures of Pep Guardiola chatting with Robert Lewandowski emerged this week.

With Manchester City’s ongoing lack of a natural striker, and the inevitable questions about whether they will sign a forward in January, fans will cling to any suggestion of an incoming transfer.

So the sight of Guardiola catching up with his former Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski was bound to get fans excited as the City boss takes a well-deserved break this week.

There was a simple explanation, though, as Guardiola has returned to Catalonia for a few days and that is where the Polish team are based ahead of their World Cup qualifier with Andorra this week.

It’s not been a trip where Guardiola has been hiding from the spotlight, though, as he spent time on a charity golf day for a former teammate on Monday. He was in an upbeat mood when speaking to reporters at the event and was open enough to give his opinion on Xavi’s appointment at Barcelona and also their reported interest in Raheem Sterling.

He might be on holiday, but he’s not staying out of the headlines completely if a story needs to be dampened or added to for his, or City’s, benefit.

While he didn’t rule the possibility of Sterling leaving, he also pointed out that a club like Barca would be able to sign any of his City players due to their enduring appeal. Whether that holds any truth in the real world, he was never going to criticise his former club to their local press when he is back in the region to clear his head from the busy day job at City.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Guardiola’s short interview on that golf day was his jokes with the reporters, telling them he wouldn’t give them a straight answer even if he knew anything.

That was a sign that Guardiola was happy to play the game with the press, and City will benefit if he can get a good break over the coming days to keep those spirits high ahead of his return to Manchester.

It’s been a long couple of years for City, and for Guardiola, who will have felt the effects of the UK lockdowns and travel restrictions as much as anyone else.

Now he’s back in the sunshine in Catalonia – aside from visiting the Poland camp where he needed an umbrella – the more of a break he gets, the more City will benefit in the long run.

A clear-headed Guardiola ahead of a big run of fixtures coming up will be a dangerous obstacle for any opposition they come up against. He might not bring back a striker, but he will bring back a refreshed mindset and that could be just as important.

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