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Guardiola won’t rule out Mahrez swoop

Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has refused to deny Manchester City are considering a deadline day move for Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez.

City broke their club record transfer on Tuesday with the £57 million ($80 million, 65 million euros) signing of centre-back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao.

In order to sign Algeria international Mahrez they would likely have to break the record again, with Leicester unlikely to let the 26-year-old leave for less than £90 million.

It is understood City have enquired about the availability of Mahrez, but the two clubs are currently some way apart on their valuation of the player.

Mahrez is reported to have handed in a transfer request, but Foxes manager Claude Puel recently said he would not let him leave the King Power Stadium in January.

City have lost influential Germany winger Leroy Sane for up to seven weeks with an ankle injury and with the club competing on four fronts Guardiola suggested he may require a replacement.

When asked directly about Mahrez, City manager Guardiola said: “Right now, it’s the same as (Alexis) Sanchez, it’s not the place to talk about it. It’s so difficult.

“It happened with Laporte because it’s a buy-out clause, when you have to negotiate it’s always so complicated.

“I have interest in a lot of players, good players, there are many. The window is open until the 31st. 

“We spoke many times with the club to see what is the best with the players we have.

“Right now, we have just three strikers with Raheem (Sterling), for the next month or month and a half. Gabriel (Jesus) is coming maybe in the next five or six weeks.

“If things are not possible, then nothing is going to happen. We don’t have too much and we play every three days. We have to find solutions.”

– Accept the challenge –

Regardless of whether he can land Mahrez, Guardiola insisted he has been satisfied with the business City have done in the transfer window.

City had been linked with a move for Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk but he joined Liverpool and they missed out on Sanchez, who moved to rivals Manchester United.

“Am I happy? Of course, a lot,” Guardiola said. 

“We are so happy with that. I said many times when the player doesn’t want to come it’s perfect.

“If they want to go to another club it’s perfect, I want the best for the player.

“And I don’t want players here who they believe another solution is better than that. It’s perfect.

“So Laporte didn’t want to come 18 months ago, I said it’s ok, so now it’s a challenge to come.”

City host West Brom on Wednesday with Guardiola still reeling from the approach of Cardiff in their FA Cup tie at the weekend.

The Premier League leaders lost Sane after he was on the receiving end of a challenge from Cardiff defender Joe Bennett.

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock said afterwards that Guardiola should “expect” to receive a physical approach in English football, although the Catalan disagreed with his interpretation of the game.

“I accept the challenge in English football but in 18 months I’ve learned that English football is Liverpool 1980s, Manchester United in the 1990s with Alex Ferguson, that’s English football,” he said.

“I prefer to play my opponents with the best players, West Brom with the best players I can face. 

“The fans go there for the players and when they can play it’s much better for everyone.”

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