Mahrez may be sole major signing for Guardiola

Manchester City's close-season signing Riyad Mahrez taking on Borussia Dortmund's Soren Dieckmann during their International Champions Cup match at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Manchester City's close-season signing Riyad Mahrez taking on Borussia Dortmund's Soren Dieckmann during their International Champions Cup match at Soldier Field in Chicago.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • Manchester City's World Cup players have decided to return to training early and help boost manager Pep Guardiola's attempt to retain the Premier League title.

The English champions had 16 players playing in Russia with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Vincent Kompany, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling not due back for pre-season work until next weekend.

All players were given three weeks off from the moment their involvement in the tournament ended. City, rivals Manchester United and Tottenham were all badly hit by the quadrennial tournament, with most of their first-team players still on holiday.

But Guardiola revealed on Friday that only two of his squad will not be available for the Community Shield season-opener against Chelsea next Sunday.

The Spaniard, speaking ahead of City's final match of the US tour against Bayern Munich in Miami yesterday (this morning, Singapore time), said: "Most of them are coming back. We have just four or five days to prepare for the first final (Community Shield), so we have to adapt.

"Some of them are coming back before, some are coming back after the final. We need players for the final but, if they are not coming back, we'll play with the guys who are here.

"It is not an ideal situation, we prefer to be together but the calendar is the calendar so we have to adapt."

He also stressed there will no major moves to improve his squad before the transfer window closes, with the £60 million (S$107 million) summer arrival of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester his only piece of business so far.

"If we do, we sign one more but, in this moment, we stay with what we've got," said the City manager.

"It's so expensive and we spent a lot last year because we had an old squad. Maybe one (will come in), maybe not."

Guardiola spent three years in Munich and insisted his spell in Germany was like a "dream" - even if he failed to win the Champions League. "I have a better perspective now that I am looking back at my time there and it's always positive," he said.

"In three years, there were good and bad moments. The dream was to win the Champions League. We were close. I still have friends and an apartment there.

"I will never have a bad word to say about Bayern. It was a dream, an important part of my life and I have no regrets."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 29, 2018, with the headline 'Mahrez may be sole major signing for Guardiola'. Print Edition | Subscribe