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Manchester City cannot afford Ruben Neves, says Pep Guardiola

Manchester City cannot afford Ruben Neves, says Pep Guardiola
© Reuters
City have been linked regularly with the Wolves midfielder.

Pep Guardiola claims Ruben Neves is out of Manchester City's price range.

City have been linked regularly with the Portuguese midfielder, who has been one of the stars of Wolves' impressive first season back in the Premier League.

But while City boss Guardiola would like to strengthen his central midfield options, he says the figures being mentioned in relation to 21-year-old Neves are beyond the champions.

Guardiola might rate Ruben Neves but says City would not pay £100million
Guardiola might rate Ruben Neves but says City would not pay £100million (Martin Rickett/PA)

Guardiola said: "A month ago I started reading 'Ruben Neves, £100million'. That is not going to happen. We are not going to pay £100million for a holding midfielder.

"We have a limit and cannot spend more so that's why we need to be careful with the players and try next season to see what we can do to improve."

In any case, Guardiola has intimated he is not sure if Neves, who City will face when Wolves visit the Etihad Stadium on Monday, would fit into his preferred system.

He said: "He's an excellent player. It involves playing with two holding midfielders – not just one – but he's an excellent player."

Ajax's Frenkie de Jong has also been linked with City
Ajax's Frenkie de Jong has also been linked with City (Nick Potts/PA)

Another player frequently linked with City is Ajax's Frenkie De Jong, but Guardiola has refused to add credence to the speculation.

He said: "I'm not talking about the case of the Ajax player because he is an Ajax player. I don't talk about players not here, never did and never will."

A holding midfielder would be a priority for Guardiola because City currently have no natural replacement for Fernandinho.

The 33-year-old Brazilian was badly missed as City suffered costly back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester over Christmas.

Fernandinho, left, has been crucial to Manchester City
Fernandinho, left, has been crucial to Manchester City (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola said: "It's not easy to find the specific quality of the players.

"There are players who can play in that role but, specifically Fernandinho's role, it's so difficult to find. He knows the Premier League and, after three years together here, he knows everything and that's so important.

"But, of course, for the next season it's an important target to find. He'll be 34 and he cannot play every few days."

In the meantime, Guardiola will hope Ilkay Gundogan can fill in if needed. The German at least looked comfortable in the position as Fernandinho was rested for the cup thrashings of Rotherham and Burton over the past week, which City won by a combined scoreline of 16-0.

Ilkay Gundogan is another valuable asset for City
Ilkay Gundogan is another valuable asset for City (Martin Rickett/PA)

Guardiola said: "Gundogan played the last two games like a holding midfielder. He had more space than usual but he was so clever. He made an incredible assist and a lot of passes before the finish.

"His quality is incredible. He can play that holding midfield role. He has the quality and the vision to pass. When he's close to the box he arrives in the right tempo and the right moment to score a goal. He's a fantastic player."

Gundogan's contract expires at the end of next season and City are keen to tie the 28-year-old to a new deal.

Guardiola said: "He knows what we want, yes, but it's in our hands."


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs382321367392871
5Arsenal382171073512270
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd381991065541166
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38169134746157
8Everton38159145446854
9Leicester CityLeicester38157165148352
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham38157165255-352
11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3899203560-2536
RCardiff CityCardiff38104243469-3534
RFulham3875263481-4726
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3837282276-5416

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