Football: Home-grown talent costs prohibitive: Guardiola

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling is living up to expectations under manager Pep Guardiola. After an underwhelming debut season at the Etihad Stadium, he has already equalled last term's Premier League goal tally.
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling is living up to expectations under manager Pep Guardiola. After an underwhelming debut season at the Etihad Stadium, he has already equalled last term's Premier League goal tally.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Pep Guardiola has indicated that he will look to Europe and beyond for new Manchester City players this summer because English talent costs too much.

The Spaniard has signed eight players since becoming City's manager last July but only one was produced in England, reflecting a larger issue in the Premier League - the small pool of home-grown players.

Defender John Stones cost £47.5 million (S$81 million) from Everton in August, making him significantly more expensive than exciting Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus, brought in from Palmeiras for £27 million.

Guardiola believes there is a premium on Englishmen in the Premier League that is preventing him from fielding more home-grown players.

"I would like to have all English players, people don't believe me, but they are so expensive," he said.

"I would like to play with them. When I was at Barcelona, I liked to field local players because they feel something special for the club, but sometimes it is not possible."

Guardiola - who in between his Barcelona and City stints managed Bayern Munich - added: "That is why the club has worked with the academy for a long time to be thinking about the next years - with me or without me. I hope with me.

"I would like to enjoy working with the four or five guys who are growing and play them."

However, he has reason to count his blessings given that City showed the foresight to make Raheem Sterling the most expensive English player ever before his arrival.

The 22-year-old international, who arrived for £49 million from Liverpool in July 2015, has already scored six Premier League goals this season before yesterday's match against Stoke.

This is in comparison with six in his debut campaign under Manuel Pellegrini, and he has already created as many chances for his team-mates this season - 35 - as he did in 2015-16.

His dribbling figures have improved and he now scores or assists once every 180 minutes compared with 240 minutes last season.

Guardiola's pursuit of perfection means that he is always demanding more, but while warning Sterling that he must not let his standards slip the manager also gave recognition of the England attacker's development.

"He's playing a lot, a lot of minutes, a lot of games," the 46-year-old said.

"It's true how many chances he creates, how many chances he scores from. He creates penalties, he's aggressive without the ball, presses and many other things.

"But he is a guy who still needs to improve.

"I would not like him to believe, or think, that it's already done, that he's good enough. He can be better."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline 'Home-grown talent costs prohibitive: Guardiola'. Print Edition | Subscribe