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Pep Guardiola would like to ‘stay longer’ at Manchester City

Manchester City v Arsenal – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Alex Livesey)

Pep Guardiola has said he would like to “stay longer” at Manchester City after being linked with a return to Barcelona.

Victor Font, one of the potential candidates to be the next Barcelona president, has said he would like to take Guardiola back to the Nou Camp if he is elected.

Guardiola, who took charge at City in 2016 after previous successful spells at Barca and Bayern Munich, is now in the final year of his contract at the Etihad Stadium.

The Catalan’s future is likely to be the subject of recurring speculation as the season goes on but he brushed off Font’s recent comments when asked at a press conference on Friday.

Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice as Barcelona boss, has guided City to six major trophies

Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice as Barcelona boss, has guided City to six major trophies (Nick Potts/PA)

“I am incredibly happy here,” said the 49-year-old, who has guided City to two Premier League titles. “I’m delighted to be in Manchester and I hope I can do a good job this season to stay longer.”

One of Guardiola’s immediate concerns is the health of his squad, which has been hit by a spate of injuries in the opening weeks of the season.

City are again likely to be without a number of players for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Sheffield United.

Other clubs have also been affected and Guardiola has no doubt the problems have been caused and exacerbated by the shortened summer break and the intensity of the pandemic-affected calendar.

Guardiola believes the Premier League made a mistake in reverting to permitting only three substitutes, rather than the five they did in the closing stages of last season after lockdown.

Sergio Aguero is one of a number of City players to have been injured this season

Sergio Aguero is one of a number of City players to have been injured this season (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Guardiola thinks the competition now needs to reconsider, saying: “Definitely they should, they should 100 per cent. It’s not about one club.

“There are statistics that they don’t deny – that in the Premier League players have 47 per cent more muscular injuries than the previous season, due to no preparation for most of the teams and the amount of games.

“All the leagues – Germany, Spain, everywhere – (allow) five substitutions to protect the players, not to protect one team.

“Hopefully they can reconsider and do what the rest of the world does because we have to adjust to the pandemic situation and other things.

“The reality is completely different now to before. Intelligent people adjust to the situation in the world – football is about the players. We’ll see.”

Kyle Walker has been in impressive form this season

Kyle Walker has been in impressive form this season (Martin Rickett/PA)

One player who has shone so this season is Kyle Walker and Guardiola has hailed the England right-back’s durability.

He said: “It was an incredible signing for Man City. I want to say thanks to the club for bringing him here.

“Today the top players are the players who can play every three days, three times a week, and not get injured.

“Before you sign a player you have to take a look at his history about injuries, about the ability to play and play and play, the regeneration, and Kyle is an example of that.

“I have the feeling now maybe this is the best Kyle we have ever seen, for many reasons.”

Guardiola said defender Nathan Ake and striker Gabriel Jesus were “getting better” but defender Benjamin Mendy was still not training.

Guardiola also did not offer a clear timeframe for record goalscorer Sergio Aguero’s return after the Argentinian suffered a hamstring injury that could keep him out for up to a month in last week’s draw at West Ham.

Guardiola said: “He is progressing. He is still not available to train with us but is progressing.”