Guardiola warns Manchester City squad to fight for right to play

Pep Guardiola is offering no guarantees of a place to any of his expensively-assembled Manchester City squad.

City have spent more than £200million strengthening their squad over the summer in a bid to regain the Premier League title.

Already it seems Guardiola has more options in terms of personnel and systems and two of last season’s stars, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, did not start in last week’s season opener at Brighton.

Undoubtedly much can change during the season but Guardiola has warned that players will have to compete for places.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said: “Hopefully they will understand that at the big clubs you cannot have 11 players, so they have to compete with each other.

“For example, the last game in Brighton, Leroy didn’t play from the beginning. It was a key point and I changed our dynamic a little bit in front. Raz (Sterling), when he played minutes, he played good.

“In that kind of level in the Premier League the people who are 12, 13, 14 and play in the game, they are so, so important.

“When the game is in the last 15 or 20 minutes, the opponent is tired and we’ve moved them during the game, we can put into the game dynamic players like Bernardo Silva, Raz (Sterling) or Sane. In another game maybe it’s Sergio (Aguero) or Gabriel (Jesus). So it’s a point where we can win games in the last minutes.”

City are still looking to add to their squad and had an offer for West Brom’s former Manchester United centre-back Jonny Evans rejected last week.

It remains to be seen whether they bid again, look elsewhere or proceed with the options they have in that position, which could include restoring Eliaquim Mangala to full first-team duties after his season at Valencia.

Guardiola denies this is a snub to Academy graduate Tosin Adarabioyo and insists the highly-rated 19-year-old, who signed a new contract over the summer, will have to earn his chance.

Guardiola said: “We have just three central defenders right now and we have Tosin and Mangala. What is the best for the club?

“We’re going to see what is the best for him and for everybody. He knows the situation from last season. Now we may be looking for a central defender – and they knew that last season – at the beginning of the season.”

Despite the player search, Guardiola admits he would prefer the transfer window to close before the season begins, as has been proposed recently.

He said: “It would be nice. We will start the season with the squad that we’ll work with until the winter window. Everything will be quicker, less speculation. The managers and the clubs will work quicker and not wait for the deadline, the last moment, the last second. So I think it will be better.”

City face another big-spending side, Everton, at the Etihad Stadium on Monday in their first home match of the season.

Guardiola said: “I don’t like to play Monday, the last game, when everybody is done and you play. I don’t like that, but it is what it is.

“I’m considering an opponent like Everton will be tough but I expect a good game – and to win the game, of course.”

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