MANCHESTER (AFP) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will not stand in Bernardo Silva's way should he wish to join Barcelona before the end of the transfer window.
Guardiola said there has been no bid from his former club for the Portuguese midfielder, but would not keep Silva in Manchester against his will.
Despite debts of €1.3 billion (S$1.83 billion) Barcelona have embarked on a spending spree this summer and will reportedly turn their attentions to Silva should Frenkie de Jong depart the Camp Nou.
City have already let Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko join Arsenal and sold Raheem Sterling to Chelsea this summer as all three sought more regular game time.
By contrast, Silva has been a vital player in City winning four Premier League titles in the past five seasons and would be difficult to replace in the final weeks of the transfer window.
"I was comfortable working with Oleks, Raheem, Gabriel, incredible characters that helped us achieve what we achieved," Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference ahead of the start of City's Premier League defence at West Ham United on Sunday.
"Sometimes for the club, sometimes for the players, sometimes for the agent, sometimes you have to divide our path.
"Especially the desire of the player is the most important thing. Of course I would love Bernardo to continue here, he is a special player for us. But I don't know what is going to happen.
"What happens will happen and if he stays it is perfect and in the end if he has to leave, it is because football is like this, the player has a desire. I will not be a person to stop a desire for the people."
Despite the departures from the Etihad over the close season, the City squad looks stronger than ever thanks to the arrival of Erling Haaland to fill the vacancy for a natural striker.
The Norwegian superstar had a debut to forget last weekend, missing a glorious chance towards the end of a 3-1 defeat by Liverpool in the Community Shield.
But Guardiola dismissed any suggestion that Haaland will struggle to adapt to City's possession-based style.
"He adapts to the way we play and we will adapt to him," he added. "It will need time but at the same time I have no doubts it is going to happen."
For the second time in four years, City pipped Liverpool to the title by a single point last season.
Another tight tussle between those two is expected at the top of the table.
But Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal have invested heavily to try and close the gap, while Chelsea and Manchester United are expected to be active in the final weeks of the window.
"Every year I have the feeling that this season is harder," said Guardiola.
"Everyone is getting better, every club, every owner invests. Many teams do it and do it well, the quality is there and the managers are exceptional.
"That's why it is exciting and that's why the Premier League is the best."