Tuesday 22 October 2019

Guardiola dismisses Juve rumours with talk of City deal extension

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola has told friends he is open to staying as Manchester City manager for the next four years.

Guardiola's deal runs until June 2021 and he spoke publicly after Saturday's 3-1 victory over Watford about the prospect of staying for a year beyond that, as he dismissed suggestions that he had a verbal agreement to join Juventus.

And it is understood Guardiola has floated the possibility in private of committing to two more years beyond the end of his existing deal, which would tie him down until 2023 and extend his tenure to seven years.

Even though City are facing the threat of a two-window transfer ban and potential expulsion from the Champions League for a season as Uefa, Fifa, the English FA and Premier League mount investigations into the club's financial affairs and recruitment practices, the Catalan is firmly committed.

"I'm not going anywhere unless they sack me," said Guardiola. "I am not going to Juventus for the next two seasons."

While Guardiola could not have been clearer about his own future, uncertainty persists over that of Ilkay Gundogan.

The German impressed again in a holding-midfield role in the absence of the injured Fernandinho against Watford, but he is out of contract at the end of the season and, with talks over a new deal still to come to anything, the 28-year-old could leave.

"I would prefer he stays, really, but at the same time I want to feel he wants to stay, too," Guardiola said.

"If he doesn't want to stay, he has to leave. But we would like to continue next season and that we have a longer time together. He doesn't want it right now, so we will wait. When he wants it, we will be here."

Victory over Watford was City's 10th win in 11 top-flight games as they bid to become the first side to retain the title for a decade.

Vincent Kompany cited Raheem Sterling's 15-minute hat-trick as further evidence of his rapid ascent to the top of the game.

Although City benefited from a controversial offside error for Sterling's first goal that will doubtless antagonise title rivals Liverpool, the champions ended up cruising to victory after a frustrating first-half.

"He has an amazing drive to develop," the City captain said of Sterling. "It's incredible because his first year at City was tough and then, from the moment Pep came in, he just kicked on and went from strength to strength.

"He is one of the best wingers in the world. He's so important for us. To have the ability to unlock defences when teams defend with so many bodies is the sign of a top player.

"A lot of young players who were in the team last season had never won the Premier League. They have now. A lot of the players last season still had to prove they were big players they are big players now."

Watford scored from their only shot on target when substitutes Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu combined just 17 seconds after coming on, ending a remarkable run lasting 196 minutes in which City did not concede a single shot of any kind to their opposition.

Bournemouth failed to muster a shot against City in their 1-0 defeat last weekend and West Ham United could not manage one in the final 40 minutes of their recent defeat at City.

"As long as we keep these kind of numbers up, the odds will be in our favour," Kompany said. (© The Daily Telegraph)


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