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Sunday 23 April 2017

Pep: Aguero still central to City plans

City boss Pep Guardiola
City boss Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola insists Sergio Aguero remains central to his plans at Manchester City and could play him alongside Gabriel Jesus.

Aguero, who has scored 154 goals for City since joining the club in 2011, was surprisingly among the substitutes for Wednesday's victory at West Ham.

Exciting new signing Jesus instead led the line and impressed hugely on what was his first Premier League start, getting on the scoresheet and setting up another goal in the 4-0 win. Aguero's long-term future under Guardiola has been the subject of some speculation this season but the City manager is happy with the prolific 28-year-old.

Ahead of tomorrow's clash at home to Swansea, Guardiola said: "I understand the debate but there is no doubt about the quality of Sergio. I can say how happy I am with what he did - except the seven games when he was banned.

"The big clubs in Europe always have a lot of strikers and there have been at this club too - (Mario) Balotelli, (Carlos) Tevez, Sergio, (Edin) Dzeko - all together. Big clubs need a lot of strikers.

"Sergio remains the most, or one of the most, important players in our squad. Without him it will not be possible.

"This guy (Jesus) arrives, he played good. That's why he was playing but they can play together. Gabriel can play on the left. Now I have many options up front."

Jesus, 19, has made an immediate impression since joining City last month in a £27million deal from Palmeiras.

Guardiola said: "He's 19 years old but he's settled quickly. He speaks enough English words to understand us but he's taking lessons every single day. That means a lot for us."

Another debate at City has been over the goalkeeping position. Claudio Bravo has been left out for Willy Caballero in the last two games.

On Bravo's reaction to being dropped, Guardiola said: "He is a huge professional.

"He is not a young guy, he has a lot of experience. I explained my feelings and he understood."

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