Football: Man City priced out of Evans move: Guardiola

Guardiola (above) suggested City are not the transfer behemoth they have been made out to be.
Guardiola (above) suggested City are not the transfer behemoth they have been made out to be.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester City failed in a move to sign centre-back Jonny Evans because they were simply unable to meet West Bromwich Albion's asking price, says manager Pep Guardiola.

City were accused of "financial doping" by La Liga chief Javier Tebas after spending around £215 million (S$380 million) on new players during the close-season transfer window.

But with City having reportedly had an £18 million offer for Evans turned down by West Brom manager Tony Pulis, Guardiola suggested the club were not the transfer behemoth they have been made out to be.

"Jonny Evans was an idea. My colleague Tony Pulis put a price that we couldn't afford at that moment," Guardiola said ahead of City's Premier League showdown with Liverpool on Saturday.

"We bought five players who cost around £35 million each. It's not a big issue because we sold a lot. We got money to invest again. I'm happy with the squad and we'll move forward with that."

He added: "We had a little bit more money to spend, but not that much. Maybe you believe that because we're Manchester City we could do that, but it was not possible."

City's inability to land Evans has come back to bite them after captain Vincent Kompany was ruled out of the Liverpool game with a calf injury.

City had hoped to find a buyer for Eliaquim Mangala during the transfer window but the Frenchman stayed put and Guardiola said he could now provide an option at centre-back.

SANCHO EXIT

"If he's here it's because he is willing to play," Guardiola said.

"I know his qualities. He's a real central defender and we are going to help him a little bit with the weakness in the build-up, to help him improve.

"I spoke with him after the deadline, to say he is part of the group and that he has to win my confidence on the pitch."

Guardiola also lifted the lid on the departure of highly rated academy product Jadon Sancho, whose concerns about playing time prompted him to join Borussia Dortmund in a reported £8 million deal.

Guardiola said he and Sancho had shaken hands on a "huge" contract, only for the 17-year-old to change his mind - costing him a place on City's pre-season tour of the United States - and then go AWOL from training.

"We tried absolutely everything, but I think it was not the salary. Maybe he thought he would get more minutes at Dortmund and I can understand that," Guardiola said.

"I don't know what will happen. We will see because in the end they have to show on the pitch their quality.

"They have to know - he has to know, the family has to know and especially the managers (Sancho's advisers) have to know - we had a lot of confidence in him.

"We put a lot of effort in, like we did with (Phil) Foden and Brahim (Diaz) and other guys to help them to grow up from here.

"But at the end, when they don't want to stay, there is nothing to say."