MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Dec 13 – Pep Guardiola has denied reports that he has a break clause in his Manchester City contract that would allow him to leave the Premier League champions at the end of the season.
The Catalan signed a deal last year keeping him at the Etihad Stadium until 2021, but reports had suggested that it included an option allowing Guardiola to depart 12 months early.
Speculation about his future has surfaced with City trailing leaders Liverpool by 14 points.
“No,” It is not true,” Guardiola said at Friday’s pre-match press conference when asked about whether the break clause exists. “I spoke about that a few weeks ago, about my intentions for the club.”
Last month the City boss, whose side face Arsenal on Sunday, underlined his commitment to the club.
“I want to stay. I don’t have any reasons to move,” he said at the time. “I am incredibly satisfied to work with this club, with these players, and if the people think I am going to resign for these results… the people do not know me.
“I like to have this challenge, I love to be in this position. If the club wants (me) next season I want to be here 100 percent. I want to live in this city because I know lovely people here and I want to work and live with them and I want to be here.”
– Man City struggles –
Guardiola’s curt denial aside, there is no doubt that City are negotiating their most difficult period in his three-and-a-half years in charge at the Etihad, to the extent that the manager and players cancelled their own Christmas party this week.
Having returned from a Champions League game in Zagreb in the early hours of Thursday, and facing a trip to Arsenal on Sunday, City personnel took a collective decision not to join the club staff’s Christmas festivities.
“We played Wednesday and we got back late to Manchester and, with regeneration, people were tired,” the City manager said on Friday.
“We had a game in two or three days. Myself and the payers preferred to be at home with the families.”
Guardiola insisted that teenage midfielder Phil Foden is still in his thoughts, saying he faced stiff competition from Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Bernardo Silva.
The local academy product has only started four games all season — none in the Premier League — and has just three league starts to his name in his career.
But Guardiola, not for the first time, said Foden had a bright future under his leadership.
“He has played 50 games and he’s 19 years old, in one of the top teams in Europe,” he said.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone of his age who’s played that many. We’re delighted with him and he’ll make incredible games in the future. So happy with the way he’s played, an incredible experience for him, help every training session.”
“Every season he’s playing more minutes and one day he’ll be a player who will play every weekend, we’ll see when.”
Sergio Aguero and John Stones are unlikely to feature at the Emirates and David Silva is also a doubt.