London: Pep Guardiola has responded to the criticism levelled at Manchester City by Claude Puel and insisted his club did nothing wrong in pursuing Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez.
The Premier League leaders’ failed bid for the Algerian winger became one of the biggest stories of the January transfer window and, after it stalled on deadline day, the fallout was considerable.
Mahrez declared himself in no fit state to train and stayed away for 10 days. This led manager Puel to be highly critical of Guardiola’s club.
Puel was angered that City left it until the last moment to show their hand before failing in a pounds 65 million bid that unsettled his player.
City’s response was to claim they acted above board and to have been freely negotiating with their rivals for a week before the window closed. And while Guardiola did not want to be dragged into the controversy, he personally defended his club’s behaviour and reputation. “I think the club made a statement and it was so clear what happened,” said Guardiola. “The club made a statement and always tries to do the best for us, and of course respecting the opponents.”
City’s pursuit of Mahrez coincided with a worrying injury crisis for Guardiola, including the loss of winger Leroy Sane. But the German winger made a miraculous recovery from ankle ligament damage, returning more than a month ahead of schedule in the midweek Champions League win in Basel, and the City manager received a further boost yesterday when Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus took part in his first full training session of the year because of a knee injury. He could now be in contention for the Carabao Cup final with Arsenal a week tomorrow.
Sane may start in Monday’s FA Cup tie at League One Wigan.
— The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2018