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Saturday 10 December 2016

Guardiola to focus attention on city's centre

Incoming Citizens boss to target Juve ace Pogba in midfield revolution

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola is so obsessed with midfielders that he admits he'd like to sign a thousand of them.

Manchester City 's new manager will be handed in the region of £150m to overhaul his squad in the summer.

And midfield is likely to be the area he addresses most.

Yaya Toure looks certain to leave, with the Ivorian's agent admitting this could be his last season at the Etihad - and City will need to replace him with a dominant force in the middle of the pitch.

Paul Pogba is again being linked with a move after City were put off by the huge financial package required to sign him last summer.

But Guardiola's determination to pack his teams with world class midfielders means City will be in the hunt for the very best.

"I love the midfield players," the Bayern Munich manager has said. "I would like to have a thousand midfield players in my squad, in my team because I believe the midfield players are intelligent understand the game.

"They understand back and they understand forward.

"You can win the games with good defenders and good strikers, but to play good, you need midfield players."

Guardiola will inherit top class attacking talent in Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.

But his teams have been built around some of the finest midfielders the game has seen such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets at Barcelona.

At Bayern he signed Xabi Alonso, Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, Mario Gotze and Douglas Costa.

He has also deployed Philipp Lahm in the midfield during his reign at the Allianz Arena.

The 45-year-old has developed a reputation for his brand of free-flowing football at Barca and Bayern.

It was on a visit to the Etihad with Bayern that he explained his philosophy.

"I try to convince them (the players) we defend better when our strikers are more aggressive than our defenders," he said. "And we play good when our defenders play like the best midfield players and the midfield are better than the strikers.

"So in this team in my head all the players have to try to make everything. They have to run as players like animals and with the ball they have to play like a child when they start to play football.

"The ball is the centre of our idea. Start with the ball and finish with the ball.

"I have a lot of respect for football players, I have a lot of respect for my players and they decide to play football for the ball. Not to go to the gym or go to I don't know what. It's for the ball.

"So I try to give them the challenge to enjoy (being) in the field.

"Sometimes you play good, sometimes you don't play so good, but the idea that the ball is the centre of everything - nothing changes (that)."

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