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Evans pursuit not make-or-break for football coach Guardiola


Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola believes his Manchester City squad can challenge for honours even if he is unable to make any more signings before the transfer window closes.

The City manager is eager to strengthen his defence and is expected to pursue a deal for West Bromwich Albion centre-back Jonny Evans.

But with West Brom having already rejected a bid of £18 million ($23.2 million, 19.8 million euros), Guardiola says signing Evans is not make-or-break.

“Like last season, every season I start, I always believe my players are the best,” Guardiola told reporters at a press conference in Manchester on Friday.

“He (Evans) is a player for West Brom. It’s still the same. Tony Pulis was clear, so there’s nothing to talk about.

“We try to do the best squad as possible for the long season. We are going to see how the market finishes at the end.

“If we have to stay with the players we have right now, we are happy. If someone comes, we are happy too.

“I know how good the club works since I arrive here and we try to do our best. Sometimes it’s possible, sometimes not.

“I talk to (director of football) Txiki (Begiristain), all the players at the club, everyone has their own opinions. We talk about making our club stronger.”

Speaking earlier on Friday, West Brom manager Tony Pulis had said only a “very, very good offer” would prompt him to sell Northern Ireland international Evans.

Guardiola has already made significant additions to his squad, spending over £200 million on full-backs Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and Danilo, goalkeeper Ederson and attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva.

City have no fresh injury concerns ahead of their Premier League fixture against Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Monday.

Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is closing in on a first-team return after he featured as a second-half substitute in a friendly against Girona on Tuesday.

– Everton ‘dangerous’ –

The 26-year-old suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury last December, having joined City from Borussia Dortmund the previous close season.

Guardiola said the club would act cautiously with Gundogan, given his injury record.

“He played a few minutes in Girona, so we are going to see,” said Guardiola, whose side opened their season with a 2-0 victory at promoted Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend.

“He is really well and training well. He needs time and confidence. When you have the problems he had with injuries in the last two years, he has to be 100 percent sure he is ready.

“But he played a few minutes and that is the first step.”

City right-back Kyle Walker missed the friendly in Girona because his wife is heavily pregnant, but he is expected to be available for the clash with Everton.

“Kyle’s wife is pregnant. He’s almost a father again,” Guardiola said. “That’s why he stayed here for the beautiful moment.”

City drew 1-1 with Everton at home last season and lost 4-0 at Goodison Park, with striker Romelu Lukaku scoring in both matches.

Lukaku has since joined City’s local rivals Manchester United, but Guardiola believes Everton are still a tough prospect without the Belgium international.

“I expect they play the same way and attack our defence,” Guardiola said.

“Sandro Ramirez and Wayne Rooney are used to playing in that way. They have a strong defence. They have great players and are dangerous on the counter-attack.

“They are a top squad and they have important players. They have a good group of players — midfield players and strikers. They are one of the best teams in the Premier League, I am pretty sure of that.”

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