Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has revealed his admiration for Tottenham’s army of English talent, but says it is “impossible” to pack his own side with current homegrown internationals.
City have signed Raheem Sterling and John Stones for close to £100 million in the last two summers and will be in the market for English talent again this season.
With Gael Clichy, who counts as a homegrown player due to his time in Arsenal’s academy, and Joe Hart likely to leave this summer, and Fabian Delph’s future in some doubt, Stones and Sterling could be City’s only remaining local players.
As previously reported by Goal , the Blues made enquiries for both Danny Rose and Kyle Walker last summer, only to be told by Spurs that they had no chance of signing either - and both have since signed new long-term contracts.
City are likely to go back in for one if not both of them this summer, and it is also understood that sporting director Txiki Begiristain is monitoring the situation regarding Dele Alli.
It is believed Spurs’ new stadium could cost them nearly double the £400m they were initially expecting, and they are yet to find a naming rights partner, meaning the club’s hierarchy could be tempted to sell one of their star players for big money to ease any financial burdens.
City are also in the running to sign goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from Sunderland, though the club’s plans regarding that particular position are far from finalised.
When Guardiola was asked about the importance of English players at his press conference on Tuesday, the Catalan was full of praise for the quality at the Etihad Stadium as well as at the Premier League’s other top clubs, most notably Tottenham.
“I would like English players because they know the league and that is much better,” he said. “I am really impressed with how many good English players your country has. Tottenham players, the English players are all amazing.
“City, United, Chelsea players as well… Chelsea do not have many but players like [Gary] Cahill as well.
“Believe me I would like English players, but it is impossible. You know that better than me. It is so expensive.”
Guardiola hopes he will soon benefit from the hard work put into the City academy over recent years, with the club’s youth teams dominating their regional leagues at various different levels.
The Catalan says four or five of the current Under-18 squad will travel with the first team to the United States for pre-season training this summer, with Phil Foden, Brahim Diaz and Jadon Sancho tipped to have bright futures at the Etihad.
Although Guardiola does not believe that a youth team’s results count for much, he does think success can help put them in a strong position to break into the first team.
“The academy for Manchester City works a lot to have success in the long term. Of course the results do not matter, believe me, but you have to win titles to create a winning mentality because you want that mentality in every single player.
“At 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 they win a lot of titles and a lot of games and that is really good for their process.
“The club has worked a long time to build these players up so one day they can play at the Etihad Stadium.
“At Barcelona, players who are 15, 16, the English clubs have more money than the Spanish league and can come and pick them up. It’s a jungle and everyone tries to find the best for their clubs and you have to be careful. In the end they will decide.”
Sancho, perhaps the standout player of all City’s youth teams this season, is reported to have attracted the interest of Arsenal in recent weeks.
But Guardiola says City are in talks with the 16-year-old regarding a new deal in a bid to ward off any interest.
“I’m not involved in that, but I think they are working on that, definitely.”