Football: City boss Guardiola confirms interest in Stones and Sane

Guardiola is interested in signing Everton’s John Stones (left) and Leroy Sane from Schalke 04.
Guardiola is interested in signing Everton’s John Stones (left) and Leroy Sane from Schalke 04.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP

(REUTERS) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed he is interested in signing Everton's young centre back John Stones, who has been linked with a £50 million (S$88 million) move to the Etihad Stadium.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, who also suggested he would be "happy" to sign winger Leroy Sane from Schalke 04, told reporters on Thursday: "It's the same answer (as) for Sane - he's a player for Everton. Everyone knows we're going to try but we will see."

Stones, 22, joined Premier League Everton from Barnsley for £3 million in 2013 after only a handful of appearances for the Championship club.

He developed a reputation as a ball-playing centre back, earning his first England cap in 2014 and travelling to France as part of England's Euro 2016 squad, although he did not feature in any of their games.

Despite a dip in form last season, Stones is highly regarded by top clubs in England and abroad and was the subject of bids from Chelsea last year after they won the Premier League title.

His style suits Guardiola's possession-based game, and the manager confirmed his interest in the defender after City's friendly against Borussia Dortmund in China on Thursday, which his team won 6-5 on penalties.

 

Guardiola, who spoke this week about the possibility of playing Brazil midfielder Fernandinho at centre back, also referred to mounting speculation that Sane could be on his way to the Premier League club.

"You know, I know, everyone knows we would like to have him, but at the moment he's a player from Schalke. If he comes, we'll be happy. If he stays, I'll be happy," he said.

The Spaniard was celebrating a victory for the first time as Manchester City boss after young goalkeeper Angus Gunn saved three Dortmund penalties in a shootout following a 1-1 draw in their International Champions Cup game in Shenzhen.

Guardiola, who on Wednesday played down reports that some City players had turned up for pre-season overweight, revealed that midfielder Samir Nasri did not play on the tour because of his weight.

"He arrived a little bit overweight, but he's much better now," he said.

"Last season, he was injured. We want to avoid that. We want the players on the pitch to be fit... Hopefully, in the next two weeks he will be OK."