Guardiola admits blow to Man City's centre-back search

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The Catalan had hoped to bring in a big-money, experienced defender earlier this summer but changes to the Blues' plans have called for a rethink

Pep Guardiola has admitted his budget for a new centre-back has been reduced by the money Manchester City have spent on other new arrivals.

Goal has previously reported that City had been unsuccessful in pursuits of Southampton's Virgil van Dijk and Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci, and it is understood they had still hoped to sign a big-money central defender of a similar ilk.

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It is also believed City were open to the idea of selling Nicolas Otamendi to fund their move for a new defender, only for those plans to hit the rocks when Aleksandar Kolarov unexpectedly requested a move to Roma.

Though City are thought to prefer a senior option capable of deputising for Vincent Kompany, 26-year-old Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez is among the names on City's list. He would cost €30 million.

Goal can reveal that Guardiola and his staff have also discussed the possibility of signing Holger Badstuber in recent days, though the tone of the conversation was hardly enthusiastic given the 28-year-old's checkered injury record.

Youngster Tosin Adarabioyo signed a new contract earlier this summer but does not appear to be in Guardiola's plans for the coming season, leaving Otamendi, Kompany and John Stones as senior options.

City had also hoped to sign four new full-backs this summer but following Dani Alves' decision to move to Paris Saint-Germain and the subsequent decision to buy Danilo for €30m they have now settled for three; Danilo, Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy.

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Guardiola has now admitted publicly that he would like one more defender, but does acknowledge that there is not too much money left in the pot for a centre-back, given over £200m has been spent already, and that City are still well in the hunt for Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Monaco's Kylian Mbappe.

Pep Guardiola Manchester City

"We are going to see," he said. "We don't have too much to spend more. We spent a lot because we didn't have a lot of guys. The market is so so expensive in the last years, but we are going to see, we are going to see if we need somebody else, and if the market gives us a chance we are going to try. But if we don't we will go with those guys, but we are going to see."

City remain confident they will be able to sign Alexis from Arsenal despite the Gunners' reticence to sell to a Premier League rival.

The Blues have already agreed a contract with the Chilean and were informed several months ago that he had his heart set on a reunion with Guardiola, his former boss at Barcelona.

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After seeing Bayern Munich's interest fade, City had been concerned about Paris Saint-Germain's attempts to sign the forward, only for the French side to seemingly drop out of the race in recent days amid reports that they were unwilling to pay his high salary demands.

And after Alexis posted on Instagram claiming to be sick days before he is expected back in training with Arsenal, City believe their final priority target of the summer is ready to force a move.

Guardiola refused to be drawn on the Alexis saga, nor City's pursuit of Mbappe, but did explain that he wants as many options as possible for a long season ahead.

"My dream would be to play with just 11 players and no injuries, with nobody upset and everybody happy," he added. "But I want to compete every game in three or four competitions like all the big teams do and we are going to need a bigger squad. So you have to feel that if you don't play good another one is going to play. 

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"It's the same with everyone. I have to be fair with what I see on the pitch, not what they have done in the past. It's good for them, to be encouraged for the next step.

"Everybody will play. I am a guy who will make a lot of rotations during the season, and everybody is going to play a lot of minutes, everybody is going to play. We are not going to play a fixed XI because it is impossible to sustain for a long season, and the better they play the more minutes they will have."

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