Wednesday 21 August 2019

Pep Guardiola hits back at Toure over 'lies' as City step up plans to complete deal with Napoli for Jorginho

Guardiola also refuted suggestions he could be tempted to return to Barcelona as manager one day. Photo credit: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Guardiola also refuted suggestions he could be tempted to return to Barcelona as manager one day. Photo credit: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Luke Edwards

Pep Guardiola has accused Yaya Toure of lying following his claim that the Manchester City boss has a problem with African players.

Guardiola initially remained silent in the aftermath of a series of damning accusations made by Toure and his agent last week.

The former City midfielder said he wanted to "break the Guardiola myth" and suggested the Spaniard had deliberately ruined his final season at the Etihad Stadium.

Toure has since made it known that he wants to sign for another Premier League club so that he can compete against City and Guardiola next season, with his agent, Dimitry Seluk, even suggesting his client would sign for wages of just £1 a week, plus bonuses.

The storm was unlikely to clear without a response from the City manager and, speaking in Spain, Guardiola finally responded yesterday and denied there is any truth in the suggestion he is racist or treated Toure badly.

"It's a lie and he knows it," Guardiola said. "We were together for two years and now this is when he says it. He never told me face-to-face."

Toure made 17 appearances for City in all competitions last season before being released.

He would like to sign for another English team that is capable of challenging for the title, but it remains to be seen if any of them are interested in the 35-year-old.

If Toure lowers his sights, former City manager Manuel Pellegrini could try and sign him for West Ham.

Guardiola also refuted suggestions he could be tempted to return to Barcelona as manager one day.

"My time there as a coach is finished because I'm not the same as I was then, nor is the way they see me the same," he added.

"It was a fantastic era where I was taking on the world and we took it on together. We had a generation of brutal players and the best player in the world (Lionel Messi) as well. The stars aligned."

City's planning for next season is poised to accelerate this week with the signing of Napoli midfielder Jorginho.

The 26-year-old Italy international has been a long-standing transfer target for Guardiola.

City have had a bid of around €50m turned down already this summer but Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is confident the transfer will go through after further talks were held.

Meanwhile, Liverpool will reassess their list of targets to replace Philippe Coutinho after calling off the €60m deal for Lyon's Nabil Fekir.

The French side issued a statement on Saturday confirming the end of negotiations, a direct response to Liverpool's decision to pull out of the deal 24 hours earlier.

Liverpool informed Lyon on Friday they were not going ahead as scheduled following Fekir's medical, despite a fee and personal terms being agreed.

It is a significant setback in Jurgen Klopp's transfer plans and is compounded by the fact one of Liverpool's alternative targets, West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini, suffered a cruciate ligament injury when training with Argentina last week.

Elsewhere, Eden Hazard has delayed a decision about whether to commit himself to a new contract with Chelsea.

The Belgian has said that he would wait to see who will be in charge at Stamford Bridge next season and which players Chelsea sign this summer before making a decision on his future.

Hazard, who is the Belgium captain, said he was focusing his energy on the World Cup.

"We had a bad season with Chelsea," he said. "We won the FA Cup at the end, so it was a little bit better, but I am focused only on the World Cup.

"I let the board manage Chelsea in the best way they can in the coming weeks." (© Daily Telegraph, London.)

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