EPL

Guardiola: Barca candidates talk too much about Eric Garcia

By Sports Desk January 29, 2021

Pep Guardiola has criticised candidates in the Barcelona presidential race for talking too much about Manchester City defender Eric Garcia.

Spain international Garcia has long been linked with a return to his boyhood club since failing to agree an extension to his contract at the Etihad Stadium last year.

The 20-year-old centre-back's terms expire at the end of this season, when signing him on a free transfer might be the most prudent course of action for a financially embattled Barca.

One of the candidates, Toni Freixa, said this is the likely conclusion to the saga, although Victor Font this week claimed Garcia would go unpaid for the rest of the season in order to force through a move.

Acting Barca president Carles Tusquets does not have the authority to sign players during this window after the presidential election was delayed until March 7, adding another layer of complication.

Guardiola has already stated he is "pretty sure" Garcia will leave City when the 2020-21 campaign concludes, although there was a weariness when he addressed the matter once more as the Premier League leaders prepare to host Sheffield United.

"I don't want to talk anything about this case because the people talk much," he said, in comments apparently directed towards Freixa and Font, who are standing against his old boss at Camp Nou, Joan Laporta.

"He's our player, the transfer window finishes in a few days.

"We are fully committed with him while he is here because is an exceptional player and guy and that's all."

Saturday's top-versus-bottom clash at the Etihad Stadium threatens to be more competitive than billed if events this midweek on the other side of Manchester are anything to go by.

Chris Wilder's Sheffield United claimed only their second top-flight win of the season, stunning Manchester United 2-1 in a result that means City are in first place at the end of a round of fixtures for the first time this term.

"Of what I saw before the United game, Sheffield United is a team that is alive. [You can tell] from their body language," said Guardiola.

"It is not easy with the results they have got this season and that speaks incredibly well about Chris, his staff and the players.

"The result against United speaks for itself. Everybody knows how difficult it is to win at Old Trafford."

The Blades remain bottom, three points behind a West Brom side City thumped 5-0 last time out and 10 points from safety.

Nevertheless, Guardiola believes they have a chance of survival and is wary of a team his men edged past 1-0 in their previous two meetings, both of which were at Bramall Lane.

"I think the reason why they are still a team and they are alive is because they are together for a long time with the same manager and they believe each other a lot," he said.

"That is why they were able to do what they did a few days ago. But it is an opportunity to try to play good again and win the game."

Guardiola added: "To play Sheffield, it is always uncomfortable to us, that system, the 5-3-2, it is difficult to attack, that is why I’m a little bit concerned about the game."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Arsenal switch focus to Isak after Vlahovic chooses Juventus Rumour Has It: Arsenal switch focus to Isak after Vlahovic chooses Juventus

    Arsenal's search of attacking reinforcements has apparently led to Alexander Isak after it became clear Dusan Vlahovic is seemingly headed to Juventus.

    With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of form and ostracised at the Emirates Stadium and Alexandre Lacazette struggling for goals, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is desperate to land attacking reinforcements in January.

    Their hunt for Fiorentina hitman Vlahovic has apparently failed but Sweden star Isak may be a potential option for the Premier League side.

    TOP STORY – ISAK THE MAN FOR MIKEL?

    Vlahovic has been a man in demand during the January transfer window, though it appears Juve have won the race in a €75million deal.

    Arsenal are now thought to be turning their attention to Real Sociedad forward Isak, and are reportedly ready to make him their club-record signing by paying £75million, which would trigger Isak's release clause.

    Isak scored 17 goals in 34 LaLiga outings last term, but he has managed just four from 18 top-flight appearances in 2021-22 thus far.

    ROUND UP

    - Newcastle United's pursuit of new players in their fight against relegation has reportedly led to a €40m (£33.5m) bid for Lyon's defensive midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to the Guardian. Arsenal and Juventus have also been touted as potential suitors.

    - The Evening Standard says Tottenham are planning a loan deal for Fiorentina's Sofyan Amrabat as Antonio Conte looks to bolster his midfield with Tanguy Ndombele, Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso all set to be allowed to leave. A move for Georginio Wijnaldum, whose move to Paris Saint-Germain has not exactly gone to plan, has also been tipped.

    - Germany full-back Robin Gosens could be about to swap Atalanta for Serie A rivals Inter, with a move in the "final stages", says Fabrizio Romano.

    - Nicolas Tagliafico has told Ajax he wants to joined Barcelona in what he considers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Goal first reported Barca coach Xavi was eyeing the left-back to provide competition for Jordi Alba.

    - Donny van de Beek is seemingly headed for a loan move out of Manchester United. Crystal Palace are said by Sky Sports to be in direct negotiations with the Red Devils, while a temporary switch to Valencia is also an option.

  • Martial seals Man Utd exit with Sevilla loan Martial seals Man Utd exit with Sevilla loan

    Anthony Martial will play the remainder of the 2021-22 season on loan in LaLiga with Sevilla after falling out of favour at Manchester United.

    France international Martial has reportedly taken a pay cut to join the Andalusian club, who it is said will pay €6million for salary and a loan fee combined.

    United interim boss Ralf Rangnick revealed last month that Martial had asked to leave the club in January after struggling for first-team football following a return from injury.

    Rangnick then claimed in the wake of United's 2-2 Premier League draw with Aston Villa that Martial was not with the squad because he "didn't want" to be involved – the forward refuted those claims.

    While Rangnick drew a line under the situation, he hinted United were negotiating exits for several players ahead of the transfer deadline, and Sevilla's tactic of playing the long game has paid off.

    LaLiga's second-placed side were linked with Martial last month, but reports suggested they could not get anywhere near the player's wage demands, and United were seemingly unwilling to lower their own demands.

    But a breakthrough in negotiations has seen the clubs reach an agreement that Sevilla will hope significantly boosts their chances in LaLiga's title race.

    After 22 matches played, Sevilla are just four points behind leaders Real Madrid.

    Throughout January, they have been linked with forwards due to injuries and a general lack of goals scored – their 34 in LaLiga is the fewest of those in the top four and 13 behind Madrid's tally.

    Rafa Mir is their top scorer in the league despite a fairly underwhelming total of six in 20 appearances, with the pre-season arrival from Wolves struggling to pick up the slack for Youssef En-Nesyri, who has been absent through injury and Africa Cup of Nations duty.

    Sevilla will hope Martial can hit the ground running after the international break, but he may be lacking match sharpness given he has played the full 90 minutes of a game once all season and has played just eight minutes of football since Rangnick's first match in charge in early December.

  • 'All is well' - Mane taken to hospital after head injury blow at AFCON 'All is well' - Mane taken to hospital after head injury blow at AFCON

    Sadio Mane says "all is well" after he was taken to hospital following a nasty clash of heads during Senegal's Africa Cup of Nations victory over Cape Verde.

    Mane's brilliant strike broke the deadlock as Aliou Cisse's side overcame stubborn opponents 2-0 to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition.

    However, Senegal forward Mane was substituted soon afterwards, appearing to still be feeling the effects of an earlier collision with Vozinha.

    As he chased a bouncing ball on the edge of the penalty area, Mane collided with the Cape Verde goalkeeper, who was dismissed following the intervention of VAR.

    A photograph – posted on the official Africa Cup of Nations Twitter account – revealed that Vozinha visited the Liverpool forward in hospital after the game.

    Sharing the photo on Instagram, Mane told his 9.1million followers: "All is well. Thank you all for the messages."

    He will now hope to be fit for the quarter-finals, where Senegal will play either Mali or Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.

    Captain Kalidou Koulibaly said after the game, quoted by Senegalese sport website wiwsport.com: "Sadio Mane has to do some tests. We've had him on the telephone, and he says he's OK. He wasn't wanting to come off, but no risks should be taken. He's an important player for us."

    Reports later on Tuesday evening said Mane had been released from hospital.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.