Monday 16 September 2019

City turn to academy players

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Mike Walley

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will wait until the summer to move for Frenkie de Jong, after ruling out any signings in January.

City are understood to be well placed to buy the 21-year-old Holland midfielder from Ajax, despite interest from Barcelona. However, Guardiola thinks his squad is strong enough to see him through the season.

City see De Jong as the long-term successor to Fernandinho, whom the manager has described as "extraordinary".

The Brazilian midfielder (33) has started all of City's 12 Premier League games and Guardiola has acknowledged that he will have to be rested during December, when his side face nine games across three competitions.

Yet he would rather field academy graduates if his squad were to be stretched to breaking point by injury.

Guardiola said: "We are not going to spend anything (in January). When we created the squad at the beginning of the season, it was not to go to the January (window) unless we have problems. But I have a deep squad, and a lot of players cannot play even though I trust them a lot. They believe I don't like them, but that is not true. I trust a lot in all the players.

"When there are some injuries, another one is going to play. If they cannot play, you have a few players in the academy that maybe are going to help us."

Guardiola's comments also rule out the possibility of a full-back being brought in to replace Benjamin Mendy, who will be out until February with a knee injury.

Mendy, who missed most of last season with cruciate ligament damage to his left knee, is recovering from surgery after damaging the meniscus in his right knee.

Guardiola faces his predecessor as City manager at the London Stadium in Manuel Pellegrini.

The current West Ham boss won the title with City in 2014 before making way for Guardiola two years later.

"His career speaks for itself in terms of quality. When you see the teams of Manuel Pellegrini, even if you are a blind guy, you recognise his style," said the City boss. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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