Premier League clubs sniffing around Man City given January transfer warning by Pep Guardiola – Dominic Farrell

Premier League clubs sniffing around Man City given January transfer warning by Pep Guardiola - Dominic Farrell

Obviously you’re all counting down the days and maybe making a big list. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Yes, in 27 days, the January transfer window opens. ‘Tis the season to be silly.

It is a fact of life at a club like Manchester City, where the squad is brimming with elite talent and the finances are in a healthy state, that speculation will surround a plethora of potential incomings and outgoings.

The reality is that Aymeric Laporte’s arrival in the first month of 2018 from Athletic Bilbao was the last mid-season business of any significance conducted at the Etihad Stadium.

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Are outgoings more likely? Well, last week the Daily Mail identified Oleksandr Zinchenko as a target for Newcastle United, while 90min reported that West Ham have eyes for Nathan Ake after Angelo Ogbonna suffered a serious knee injury.

Zinchenko made his first Premier League start of the season at Aston Villa on Wednesday, while Ake slotted back in alongside Ruben Dias at centre-back due to John Stones and Aymeric Laporte’s respective injury and suspension absences.

Both were excellent in a 2-1 win.

“These type of players are always helping. Nathan is an example for us and Oleks is the same – all the time no complaining and training and training and training,” Guardiola said ahead of Saturday’s trip to Watford.

“When you can let them play… we said we must win this game, especially for these guys who don’t play much.

“They made a really good performance, no doubt.”

A look at City’s bench against Villa gave the most obvious indication why any major outgoings are highly unlikely to be sanctioned next month.

Guardiola suggested Ake and Zinchenko’s attitudes in training are a source of “good karma”.
(Image: Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Phil Foden and Jack Grealish were selected despite recent injuries and featured for zero three minutes respectively. They were accompanied by five youth team players and two goalkeepers as Ilkay Gundogan, Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne and long-term absentee Ferran Torres also missed the trip to Birmingham.

For all that it is talent-stacked, Guardiola’s squad is not as deep as advertised – certainly in terms of numbers.

This has its benefits in terms of togetherness, certainly when you get the buy-in within a tight-knit group that he evidently has from the likes of Ake and Zinchenko.

“Normally, when you behave in that way when you don’t play, always you play good [when selected]. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the karma, I don’t know, but it happens,” Guardiola added.

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“When you help, when you go there [to the pitch], everything is going well. When you don’t behave like this, sometimes you go there and you have to show it and you play not good.”

If Ake, Zinchenko or anyone else departs, Guardiola would have to replace them not only as footballers but as human beings and personalities within the delicate eco-system of the modern football dressing room.

Would that really be a risk worth taking when the manager has seen his squad pull together so impressively amid what looks set to be a knife-edge title race? Newcastle, West Ham and any other prospective buyers would be better off looking elsewhere.

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