Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola personally made sure Raheem Sterling would not be allowed to join Arsenal in a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez, he revealed on Friday.
The two clubs spent transfer deadline day locked in talks over City’s desire to sign Sanchez, only for the deal to collapse because Arsenal were unable to sign their preferred replacement, Monaco winger Thomas Lemar.
At one point Sterling was mooted as a potential makeweight in the Sanchez deal, but Guardiola said he was determined not to allow the 22-year-old England forward to leave.
“When we started to speak with Arsenal in the last days before it was not impossible, they wanted to make a swap with Raz,” Guardiola told reporters at the City Football Academy in Manchester.
“And they talked to me and I said: ‘No chance. Zero chance. Not one percent chance’ to take a swap deal with Alexis because I have a lot of trust in Raz.
“He is 22 years old, an English player and he has a lot of gap (potential) to improve. So the only thing we can do if possible is to try and do a deal with cash.
“We tried to make an offer that they would accept, but in the end they could not sign the player they wanted and Alexis stayed with Arsenal.”
City were reported to have agreed a fee of around £60 million ($79 million, 66 million euros) for Sanchez, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona.
The 28-year-old Chile forward is out of contract at the end of the season but Guardiola was coy when asked if City would reactivate their interest in him in one of the next two transfer windows.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the wintertime or next season,” said Guardiola, whose side face Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
“He’s an Arsenal player. Of course we were interested in him. At the end Arsenal decided not to sell him. So all the best for Alexis. I know him from Barcelona.
“And that’s all. Sometimes the deals work, sometimes not. We will see in the future.”
– Tebas ‘could learn things’ –
City are believed to be one of the five clubs who voted against a proposal to shut the close-season transfer window in England before the start of the season, which was voted through by Premier League clubs on Thursday.
But Guardiola said the club’s only concern was that rival teams in other European leagues will still be able to sign players — potentially from English clubs — after the window has closed in the Premier League.
“I am so happy with the decision the Premier League have taken. I think it’s really good,” he said.
“Manchester City, what I know is they agree about that. We just have to reflect that the transfer window in England will be closed sooner than in Europe.
“Hopefully we can fix it so all the other clubs in Europe finish at the same time.”
Guardiola also confirmed he and chief executive Ferran Soriano had met La Liga chief Javier Tebas, who caused controversy earlier this week when he accused City and Paris Saint-Germain of “financial doping”.
UEFA have opened a probe into whether PSG’s mega-money purchases of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe contravene their Financial Fair Play rules, but City’s close-season spending is not under investigation.
“If he has any issue with us or with any teams, he has Ferran Soriano to ask about any financial issue inside the club,” Guardiola said.
“He can also call UEFA. As far as I know, UEFA didn’t call us to say that we are being investigated.
“But I would say something: the Premier League has greater stature, really good things, so maybe Mr Tebas of La Liga could learn some things about this competition as well.”
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