Pep Guardiola has admitted Manchester City may need to seek a replacement for Kalvin Phillips in January if the England midfielder moves on.
Phillips, 28, is expected to leave the Etihad next month in search of regular first-team football, having been unable to force his way into Guardiola’s side in the 18 months since his £42million switch from Leeds.
And while Guardiola insisted he was not thinking about the January market, that might change if he was left short of numbers in midfield, where City have struggled any time their regular enforcer Rodri has been missing through injury or suspension.
“Right now I don’t have anything in my mind,” Guardiola said. “It depends if they leave or don’t leave. Some players stay, some players leave. It depends on the squad, it depends on young players and if you can rely on them or not in some moments.”
Only last week, Guardiola appeared to effectively confirm Phillips would not be able to turn things around at City, saying: “I visualise the team and I struggle a little bit to see him (in it).”
Several clubs have been linked with a January move for the Yorkshireman.
Asked specifically if Phillips’ situation could change things for City, Guardiola said: “Kalvin is a player with us, I don’t want to anticipate absolutely anything. Everyone knows the situation he has.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 14, 2023
“It depends if it happens. If it happens we talk. The market in January is not easy…We still have incredible things to play for, and after we decide.”
Next week City will be playing for the Club World Cup for the first time in their history after last season’s treble success.
The team are due to fly to Saudi Arabia after Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace – with both Erling Haaland and the injured Kevin De Bruyne due to make the trip regardless of whether they will be fit to play.
“It’s a competition we have never won, everyone will be there,” Guardiola said.
The path to #ClubWC glory.
Who do you think will be crowned champion?
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 15, 2023
“I want the players not to be desperate to win, (but) to play two games, win the first one and get the credit to play the final. If we don’t win it, hopefully we win the Champions League in the future to be back. Two football games, do what we have to do.
“We learn from the Champions League in the past. In life you don’t know what will happen… the motivation, the feeling we’ve never won, it’s important. Winning helps to win. Winning against Palace will help by far.”
As enticing as the prize on offer next week is, Guardiola warned against looking past Saturday’s match.
“This is my job, I will warn (the players) or let them know,” he said. “It has always been difficult with Roy (Hodgson), or Patrick (Vieira) before, Crystal Palace have always been tough.
“Everyone has to be involved to play quick, be patient, transitions, set-pieces, good on second balls, the physicality is amazing. Always we struggle.
“At Selhurst Park it’s normal, but at Selhurst Park we perform better than at the Etihad. It happened, we lost a lot of points, they do it really well.”
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