Football

Guardiola slams Klopp's 'fantasy land' jibe

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hit back at Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp’s claim that the English Premier League champions operate on a transfer “fantasy island”.

Klopp named City, along with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, as teams who can carry on spending millions seemingly regardless of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play restrictions.

“It looks like there are four clubs in the world who can do it constantly. (Real) Madrid, Barcelona, City and PSG. Whatever they need, they do,” Klopp had said.

City and Liverpool meet on Sunday in the Community Shield, the curtain raiser for the English top-flight season.

And Guardiola lit the fuse on the early clash between the two teams who are likely to slug it out for the EPL title when he insisted Klopp was wrong to suggest that City succeed only because they out-spend everyone.

“It bothers me,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday. “Of course, it bothers me because it’s not true that we spend £200 million (S$334.8m) in every transfer market.

“That is not true. This is Liverpool, ‘you’ll never walk alone’ and all that, so it’s not a small team. It’s Liverpool.

“So of course I do not like it because it is not true. Last season we had a net spend of £17 million on one player.”

That one individual was Riyad Mahrez, and his transfer fee of £60 million was dwarfed by Liverpool’s £75-million swoop for Virgil van Dijk and then world record for a goalkeeper of £67 million on Alisson.

This summer, City broke their transfer record with the £62-million capture of Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri.

But that is nothing compared with the extravagances of the two Spanish giants, with Real and Barca both spending more than £100 million on a single player in Eden Hazard and Antoine Griezmann respectively.

Guardiola accepts that his major reinforcements were made in 2017 when he signed Kyle Walker, Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Bernard Mendy and Danilo, but it has been more measured since then.

‘That’s reality’ 

“Two seasons ago, if we spent a lot, it’s because I took over the team and we had 10 or 11 players over 30 years old, so we had to do it,” he said.

“But we cannot spend £200 million every season. For example, last season Liverpool spent more than £200 million, and they cannot do it this season, but it’s the same.

“Today, clubs cannot spend a lot of money every single season. I don’t know about other clubs, but if they can do it, they can do it.

“That’s why there is financial fair play and if something is wrong, clubs that are not correct will be punished. That’s a reality."

Ahead of the new season, Guardiola’s biggest immediate challenge is making sure Leroy Sane remains a City player once the transfer window has shut.

Interest from Bayern Munich persists and their manager Niko Kovac has spoken openly about the Germany winger.

But, despite using him from the bench for long periods last season, Guardiola is determined to keep Sane.

“I want players who want to stay,” he said. “It is impossible for me as a manager to convince a player when his head is away from there.

“If he knocks on the door and tells me that he wants to leave, then OK, we are going to speak with the club.

“We have been trying to extend his contract for more than one year. We were quite close a month ago and now it’s a little bit different.”  – AFP

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