Pep Guardiola bemoans high cost of English players
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has expressed concern about the price of English players.
Guardiola is likely to move into the transfer market in the summer to further reinvigorate a squad that is ageing, particularly in terms of defensive options.
One of his most important considerations will be nationality because clubs are only permitted to name a maximum of 17 foreign players in 25-man Champions League squads.
City currently have 18 senior overseas players on their books and were forced to leave out Yaya Toure from their European squad earlier this season. Toure has now been restored, but only at the expense of the injured Ilkay Gundogan.
City would hope to be in the that competition again next term and with six players out of contract at the end of this season - Toure, Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero, Pablo Zabaleta, Jesus Navas and Gael Clichy - there could be an opportunity to buy English.
But Guardiola, who this season allowed England goalkeeper Joe Hart to join Torino on loan, said: "I would like to have English players, believe me, but they are so expensive.
"I would like to play with English players. When I was in Barcelona I liked to play with locals because they feel something special, but sometimes it is not possible. The market is the market and it is not able."
Part of the solution could be to promote youngsters from the youth set-up and City have high hopes for a number of their prospects, including English teenagers Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden.
Guardiola said: "That is why the club has worked for a long period with the academy, thinking about the next years.
"With me or without me - hopefully with me - I would like to enjoy these four or five guys who are growing, and play with them."
Guardiola was speaking at a press conference to preview Wednesday's rearranged Premier League clash against Stoke, when City will bid to cut the gap to leaders Chelsea back to eight points.
Guardiola said: "We're focused on the next game. The gap is so big and it depends on tomorrow.
"The focus is Stoke City; what they are - Crouch, Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Allen - what they do, how they defend, how they attack; what we have to do to concede few chances, what we have to do to create chances. Every game is the same, we focus on that - not the points or the table. At the end we are going to see."
Guardiola also downplayed reports he has banned players from using their phones by turning off wifi in certain parts of City's training complex.
He insists there is a time and a place for such activity but does not seem to have been so draconian as to impose a ban.
Guardiola said: "They use the devices, they use their phones 24 hours. They sleep with their mobile phones, they are (using) Instagram, Snapchat every five seconds. It is impossible to control that, it is part of their lives, how they communicate.
"But in certain areas, where they are working, they do not use their devices, but maybe it is 20 minutes a day, so it is not a big issue."