Manchester City will not be held to ransom over Jonny Evans, with Pep Guardiola having identified other options at centre-back should West Bromwich Albion not agree with their valuation of the Northern Irishman.
City are set to make a renewed bid for Evans after having one in the region of £18m rejected by the Midlands club. Tony Pulis made Evans West Brom captain after Darren Fletcher left for Stoke City and the manager is adamant City will have to offer an acceptable fee if he is to be transferred.
At 29 Evans will have little or no sell-on value and, while City recognise it is an inflated market, the club will switch to other options should West Brom demand what they believe is an unrealistic price.
While an offer in the region of £25m plus add-ons may cause Albion to consider Evans’s sale, Guardiola is also insistent that, if his central defence cannot be strengthened, he will still be content.
“We try to do the best squad as possible for the long season,” said Guardiola . “We are going to see how the market finishes at the end of the window. If we have to stay with the players we have right now we are happy. If someone comes we are happy too. I know how good the club works since I arrive here and we try to do our best. Sometimes it’s possible, sometimes not. Nothing to say.
“It is like last season. Every season I start I always believe my players are the best. We talk with the club, with the sporting director Txiki [Begiristain], with all the players. We talk – everyone has his own opinions and after that we are decide what is best to make our club stronger. He’s [Evans] a player for West Brom. It’s still the same. Tony Pulis was clear so there’s nothing to talk about.”
However, Evans is keen on the move, which Pulis admitted. “We don’t want to stop him from doing something he wants to do,” said the manager.
Guardiola denied that, if Evans or any new player is added, this will send a negative message to the club’s academy players. The 17-year-old Phil Foden was on the bench for Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Brighton & Hove Albion. Centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo, 19, is another home-reared youngster in Guardiola’s first-team squad.
“I think the academy players, the big ones and important ones, are already here. They don’t play in the first team just for the fact they are in academy. They have to win that situation. They are with us in the beginning, train with us at the beginning and it depends after that with the same quality for the other guys who are here,” said Guardiola.
Kyle Walker missed the midweek friendly at Girona as his wife is expecting. But Guardiola expects the right-back to start against Everton on Monday.
“His wife is pregnant,” said the 46-year-old. “He is almost a father again so that’s why he waits here [and not travel] for a beautiful moment.”
Ilkay Gundogan, who missed most of last season due to a knee injury, made a comeback at Girona. “He played a few minutes so we are going to see when he will play a competitive match,” Guardiola said. “He is really well and training well. He needs time and confidence. When you have the problems he had in the past with injuries in the last two years he has to be 100 per cent sure he is ready. But he played a few minutes and that is the first step.”
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