Manchester City are close to agreeing a deal to sell Ferran Torres to Barcelona and Pep Guardiola has insisted they will not sign a striker in January if he goes.
Guardiola believes it is hard for Spanish players to turn down Real Madrid and Barcelona and insisted he will never stand in the way of a player who wants to leave City.
But though he did not replace Sergio Aguero when City’s record goalscorer went to Camp Nou in the summer, he is prepared to let Torres leave without bringing in another attacker as well.
City are set to make a sizeable profit on the 21-year-old, who joined from Valencia last year, has scored 16 goals for them and has become Spain’s first-choice centre-forward.
Torres became a target for Barcelona even before a heart condition forced Aguero to retire and Guardiola said: “I hear it is really close. No, I am not getting to bring a striker in January.
“Always I have the feeling that when Barcelona or Real Madrid knock on the door of players then it is difficult to say no. So difficult. They are still the strongest teams in the world in terms of fashion, cities and many reasons. He is from Spain, Barcelona knock and I understand.
“When he knocked on my door and said, ‘I want to leave,’ I said, ‘leave.’ I cannot convince the players to do something when their mind isn’t here. It makes no sense. If you believe you will be happier in another place, you have to go. The career is short, in one day it is over. If the clubs reach an agreement, I am happy for him.”
Guardiola’s forward options were reduced for Sunday’s 4-0 win at Newcastle when he chose to leave Jack Grealish and Phil Foden as unused substitutes after they were pictured on a night out following the 7-0 thrashing of Leeds.
The City manager did not confirm if they are back in contention to start against Leicester on Sunday but argued that professionalism on and off the pitch is still more significant now and will help each play for longer.
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Guardiola added: “They are not rules. I am not the police, telling them what they have to do. Everyone is old enough and experienced enough to know what they have to. We are living [in] special circumstances in our lives that everyone cannot live free like they did in the past due to the pandemic.
“In this type of career, the work you do on and off the pitch is the same importance. It’s so demanding physically and mentally. You have to live for your profession: all the time, every single second. Otherwise, guys that are going to live every single day this profession are going to sustain longer in it.”
Guardiola believes that, while it will not happen, footballers and managers should go on strike to ensure that player welfare and workload is addressed properly.
The City manager’s gripe is not with the Christmas fixture list, but the permanent overload of a calendar with international tournaments every summer, meaning players only get two or three weeks’ holiday, and with the Premier League, for not allowing clubs in England to make five substitutions per game.
“The players and managers should all together make a strike,” he said. “The words alone are not going solve it. It's not necessary to do it we talk about the welfare just for the players and the associations say we don't play any more until we solve that situation.
“The simplest example is that all around the world they have five substitutions, here it's still three. Tell me one argument to take care of players' welfare [better] than this one. But you have to decide for the broadcaster, for the Premier League, for the rest to take decisions on behalf of the welfare of the players. This is not going to happen.”