Pep Guardiola: If City had spent like Chelsea did we would have been hammered
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City would have faced heavy criticism had they lavished more than £550 million on players in eight months like Chelsea.
Chelsea spent over £300 million in the January transfer window – more than La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 clubs combined – which followed a splurge in excess of £250 million last summer.
Guardiola has little doubt about the backlash there would have been against City had the Abu Dhabi owned club embarked on a similar spree in the past two windows.
“It’s [Chelsea’s spending] a surprise because it’s not a club state,” the City manager said in a sarcastic nod to criticism of the club being ‘state owned’.
“What I’m concerned [with] is we won 11 titles in the last five years being the fifth or sixth team in net spend in the Premier League. This is what I’m concerned about at this time.
“I know what would happen [if City had spent the same as Chelsea]. It happen[ed] in the last five or six years.”
Klopp: ‘I say nothing without my lawyer’
Jürgen Klopp, meanwhile, joked he would need legal advice before commenting on how Chelsea could invest so much in the last two transfer windows, without falling foul of Financial Fair Play.
“I say nothing without my lawyer,” Klopp said. “I don’t understand that part of the business, what you can do and what you can’t do. It’s a big number in the last two windows.
“The players they brought in, I didn’t think once ‘why did they do that?’ They are all really good players, so from that point of view, congratulations if you can do it. I don’t understand how it’s possible, but it’s not for me to explain how it works. Hopefully you [the media] all know exactly how it works, and then it’s fine.”
Asked if he felt there was one rule for City and another for different clubs, Guardiola – who revealed that John Stones is facing up to a month out with a hamstring injury – added: “Where we come from for sure, definitely.”
City’s revenues and spending have been the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism from rivals for years.
In February 2020, City were given a two season ban from competing in Europe by Uefa over alleged breaches of their Financial Fair Play rules only for the club to have the suspension successfully overturned on appeal five months later.
Nine Premier League clubs – Arsenal, Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers – wrote to the Court of Arbitration for Sport the month after the ban was issued asking them not to agree to any request by City to lift the suspension during the appeal process.
Guardiola: ‘What Chelsea do is not my business’
Guardiola said he had never forgotten what that group did and believes there are double standards where criticism of spending is concerned.
“What Chelsea do is not my business. I never involve opinions in other clubs because there are regulations – rules that we have to do it,” he said.
“We were accused. I don’t forget, eight or nine teams in the Premier League send a letter to the Premier League [asking for City] to be [stay] banned. That happened to us. We are the fifth team in net spend in the last five years. That is the reality.
“We know exactly what we are working. Of course we need good players. What Chelsea believes, what Arsenal believes, what Liverpool, United believes – without good players we cannot compete. Not just in the Premier League, but Europe. You have to spend. Now the market is wow.”
City raised almost £250 million in sales over two windows last year – with the £193 million recouped last summer the most lucrative clear-out by a club in Premier League history – and stand to earn around £11 million this month from sell-on clauses they had on deals for the Tottenham bound Pedro Porro and Ivan Ilic, who joined Torino.
Despite agreeing to loan Joao Cancelo to Bayern Munich just before the window closed, City opted against signing a replacement full-back. Relations between Cancelo and Guardiola had been steadily deteriorating but the City manager said the decision was down to the player wanting more game time.
“First I wish him the best for the rest of the season – next season I don’t know what will happen,” Guardiola said. “He has been an incredible figure in the last two Premier Leagues we won. After the World Cup, we made a pre-season and started to play in a different way in some patterns.
“I liked what I watched and I decided to give more time to players who I saw on the pitch who liked it. Everyone has their own personality and he [Cancelo] loves to play and is one of the players who trains the best.
“In this situation he didn’t play much in the last two or three games. We cannot say he didn’t play much because in the last years he was one of the players with the most minutes by far. He is a guy who needs to play to be happy and we decided together, all three parts, to let him go to Munich.
“If Bayern Munich wanted him it’s because he’s beyond an exceptional player. I won’t say one bad word about him. I think his work ethic, love for football, passion, his quality and skills… what can I say? Everyone knows it.”
Guardiola said he was happy to wait until the summer to reconsider his options at full-back rather than spend for the sake of it in January, despite Stones’s absence for between three weeks and a month further reducing his options in defence.
“It happened one or two days before the transfer window – I’m really pleased with the squad I have as always,” he said. “Being not sure what to do, it’s better to have the money in the bank and not to be criticised for spending more.”