Pep Guardiola has claimed that Manchester City could not afford to compete with Manchester United for the signings of Harry Maguire and Alexis Sanchez, as he hit back against rival concerns over the Citizens’ unlimited spending.
Sanchez joined United back in January 2018, in a deal which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move in the other direction to Arsenal. Maguire meanwhile, arrived at Old Trafford for £80m – a world-record fee for a defender.
In both cases, City were also in for the player, only to be outbid by United.
“We have a lot of money, but we wanted Alexis Sanchez and we could not afford it,” Guardiola said in a spiky press conference, as he addressed concerns over City’s unchecked spending in the wake of the CAS verdict to overturn their European ban (via the Standard).
“We wanted Harry Maguire and we could not afford it. We could not pay like United paid.”
Guardiola also took at aim his Premier League rivals and Arsene Wenger as he defended City’s financial might.
Whether City ‘couldn’t afford’ or simply decided against paying so much for Maguire is up for debate. However, a player of the the Man Utd captain’s talent would have been a welcome addition to City’s squad this season as defensive problems have plagued Guardiola’s side.
The Citizens are currently set to finish around 20 points adrift of champions Liverpool and the Spaniard explained that further investment in his squad is required in order to close the gap.
“I am humble enough to accept that without my players I am nothing, zero. That’s why I need my players, and for that I need clubs who are financially strong – like a lot of clubs – to do it,” Guardiola said.
“I’m a good manager, but I don’t win titles if I don’t have good players and good players are expensive, but all the clubs spend a lot of money. Barcelona spend a lot of money, [Real] Madrid spend a lot of money, English teams spend a lot of money.
“But if we build the club in terms of the last decade to compete with the elite of the Premier League or Champions League, we need to invest.”
City’s negotiating hand was strengthened significantly by their two year ban from Europe being lifted on Monday. It is understood that Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and England international Ben Chilwell are at the top of Guardiola’s wishlist.