Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola does not want Sergio Aguero to leave Manchester City and has told the Argentina striker he can remain with the Premier League champions for as long as he wants.
Reports from Spain suggest Aguero’s former club Atletico Madrid are keen to re-sign him before next season.
Aguero’s relationship with Guardiola has been the subject of some debate after reports of clashes between the pair in the past.
But the City manager will offer Atletico no encouragement, as long as Aguero — who turns 30 next month — wishes to stay with the team for whom he has scored a club-record 199 goals.
“I think it’s not going to happen. My desire is it will not happen, but I don’t know,” said Guardiola of Atletico’s reported interest.
“It’s happened many times in these press conferences and I said maybe a thousand times — Sergio is going to stay until he decides his time is over.
“I said it last season and this season many times and I say it today. That’s why I say it isn’t going to happen, but in football you never know.”
City signed Aguero from Atletico in 2011 and he has been one of the key components of the club’s successes, which now include three Premier League titles.
Although sidelined with a knee injury, Aguero is poised to return to fitness in time for the World Cup and is under contact with City until 2020.
He has publicly stated he intends to return to Argentina and play for boyhood club Independiente once his time with City is up.
– Sterling talks –
Guardiola, who travels to Southampton for the champions’ final game of the season on Sunday, was also relaxed about reports that England forward Raheem Sterling has decided to delay contract negotiations with the club until after the World Cup.
“The club, the chairman and myself, we all want him to stay a long time, renew his contract,” said Guardiola.
“But we are going on holiday in a few days. We all want him to stay as long as possible.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola predicts a low-key summer of transfer activity, with veteran midfielder Yaya Toure the only player who is confirmed as a definite departure.
Apart from signing Toure’s replacement, and potentially also a new big-name forward, Guardiola may not add any more talent to a squad that won the title so comfortably.
“I say not too much, maybe players want to play more and want to leave, but not too many,” he added.
“We had a high investment last season, it was an old team, 10 or 11 players more than 31, and we needed to change it.
“We did that and now we’ll makes some details — Yaya is leaving. So, one or maybe two. I don’t know.”
Guardiola also branded Premier League rules that require a player to have made five appearances to qualify for a winner’s medal as ridiculous, with young midfielders Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz currently one short of that target.
And Guardiola admits he may put the duo on the field at some stage just to make sure they qualify for the honours.
“I didn’t know that but, with all respect, it looks ridiculous to me. All respect,” he said.
“If they want my medal I will give them medal. They are champions. They worked from day one to the last one, training with us, in the locker room, training.
“They didn’t play because of my decisions, but it’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter they don’t have medals.
“Maybe it’s so expensive to give three, four, five medals for the young guys!
“Maybe I will be concerned by that and maybe they will be in the line-up, maybe they will play. That is my opinion.”
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