Pep Guardiola rules out striker signing in January as Ferran Torres nears exit

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City have no intention of signing a striker next month despite the imminent departure of Ferran Torres.

Spain forward Torres is set to join Barcelona when the transfer window opens in January after the Premier League champions accepted a £46.7million offer from the Catalan giants.

Torres was signed primarily as a winger but has often operated as a centre forward with the club short of natural striking options.

Torres has played as a striker at City but the club do not intend to sign one to replace him
Torres has played as a striker at City but the club do not intend to sign one to replace him (Scott Heppell/PA)

City failed in their attempts to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham last summer but have no immediate plans to look elsewhere for a striker.

“No, we’re not going to bring in any striker in January,” said manager Guardiola at a press conference when asked if this could now be a possibility.

The City manager said he was not even disappointed that Torres wanted to leave, accepting that the lure of Barcelona was something the 21-year-old probably could not resist.

He said: “I know they are negotiating and I think it is close. When the club announces it it will be done.

“I want the happiness of my players. If we had just two or three attacking players then maybe Ferran would think he had more chance to play and stay longer.

“But always I have the feeling that when Barcelona or Real Madrid knock on the door of players then it is difficult to say no.

“They are still the strongest teams in the world in terms of fashion, cities and many reasons. He is from Spain, Barcelona knock and I understand why he wants to leave.

“I cannot convince the players to do something when their mind isn’t here. It makes no sense. Other clubs make them stay, I don’t agree with that.”

Guardiola has led calls for teams to be allowed five substitutions in the Premier League
Guardiola has led calls for teams to be allowed five substitutions in the Premier League (Owen Humphreys/PA)

City are next in action when they host Leicester on Boxing Day before travelling to Brentford on Wednesday.

With plenty of debate about the Christmas schedule, and with many clubs facing a potential fixture backlog amid mounting postponements, Guardiola has reiterated calls for the teams to be allowed five substitutions in the Premier League.

Five changes were allowed during Project Restart in 2020 but the rule reverted to three, to Guardiola’s frustration, last season.

Guardiola said: “The tradition of Boxing Day is massively important, it is one of the characteristics and why the Premier League is special. This is not going to be changed.

“I would have loved to play in this period with lots of games. The problem is the fixtures, the calendar is 365 days a year with international duties for the national teams and players have two to three weeks holiday in the summer.

“The welfare of the players should be the most important thing but when we talk about the welfare of the players it is the only country that has just three subs, not five. Why?

“We have to protect the players – and you do that with five subs.”

Guardiola admits it is frustrating that talk about player welfare does not often lead to action. He feels something decisive needs to be done but a strike would be going too far.

He said: “Should the players and the managers all be together and make a strike, or something because just through words it’s not going to be solved?

“For FIFA, the Premier League, the broadcasters, the business is more important than the welfare.

“But I’m not saying there’s a reason to make a strike. We want to play, we want to continue, to make the people happy going to he stadium on the 26th, 27th, 29th, 31st and first and play games, because we love to do that.”

Phil Foden (left) and Jack Grealish (right) were left out for last week's game at Newcastle
Phil Foden (left) and Jack Grealish (right) were left out for last week’s game at Newcastle (Martin Rickett/PA)

Reports emerged this week that Guardiola left Jack Grealish and Phil Foden out of the starting line-up at Newcastle last weekend for disciplinary reasons.

It was claimed the pair had not been fit enough to train properly after a night out.

Guardiola insisted he would not need to remind players of any rules because they should already know where the boundaries are.

He said: “They are not rules, I am not the police. I’m not saying what they have to do.

“Everyone is old enough and experienced enough to know exactly what they have to.”

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