Pep: Nasri's weight the big issue

Everton's John Stones is reportedly the subject of a £50 million (S$89 million) bid from Manchester City. A deal would make the 22-year-old centre-back the most expensive English footballer.
Everton's John Stones is reportedly the subject of a £50 million (S$89 million) bid from Manchester City. A deal would make the 22-year-old centre-back the most expensive English footballer.PHOTO: REUTERS

Frenchman's absence in friendly games due to being overweight in pre-season, says City boss

LONDON • Pep Guardiola says that Samir Nasri did not play in Manchester City's two friendlies in China because the Frenchman was overweight when he returned for pre-season training.

On Thursday, City beat Borussia Dortmund 6-5 in a penalty shootout in Shenzhen after drawing 1-1, Sergio Aguero's 76th-minute goal being cancelled out by Christian Pulisic's last-minute equaliser.

They lost 0-1 at Bayern Munich last week with Nasri not among the 23 players used by Guardiola in two games.

The Spanish manager, who will not let overweight players train with the first team and has banned some foods, including pizza, said: "Sami arrived a little bit overweight but he's much better now. Still there is a little bit of weight. Last season he was injured and we want to avoid that.

"The players that are on the pitch, they are fit, their weight is in the right place to arrive at many minutes like Tosin (Adarabioyo) today or like Fernandinho or like Aleksandar Kolarov and all the other ones. But hopefully in the next two weeks he will be right with us."

About his team's overall preparation, he said: "I'm very happy with the squad we have, in the way they train and play. That's all I can say."

The manager is pleased with his players' application in general. "I have no complaints about the team, the opposite, I'm really surprised," he said. "The fans can be so proud."

Guardiola also confirmed that he is interested in signing Everton's young centre-back John Stones, who has been linked with a £50 million (S$89 million) move to the Etihad Stadium.

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

About Sane, he said: "You know, I know, everyone knows we would like to have Sane but at the moment he is a Schalke player. If he comes we'll be happy, if he stays in Schalke I will be happy for the fans and for the Schalke club. Same answer for Stones. He is an Everton player. Everybody knows we're going to try but I don't know what's going to happen.

Stones, 22, joined English Premier League side 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. He was also the subject of bids from Chelsea last year after they won the Premier League.

His style suits Guardiola's possession-based game.

City's next match is against Arsenal in Gothenburg on Aug 7. Guardiola hopes to arrange an extra friendly next week. His new City side need it.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2016, with the headline 'Pep: Nasri's weight the big issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe