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Thursday 25 May 2017

Pep: No talks on Aguero future

City boss denies striker talk as massive Spurs tie looms

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted his dinner date with Sergio Aguero (pictured) and the striker’s agent in central Manchester was nothing to do with the Argentine’s contract at the Etihad. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted his dinner date with Sergio Aguero (pictured) and the striker’s agent in central Manchester was nothing to do with the Argentine’s contract at the Etihad. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Pep Guardiola has denied he and Sergio Aguero have been discussing the player's future at Manchester City.

The City manager was spotted dining with the club's top scorer and his representative in Manchester city centre on Thursday night.

Guardiola insists the meeting was not to speak about contracts.

The former Barcelona boss has been questioned about Aguero's future on a number of occasions this season due to a perception he may not fit into his plans.

Guardiola has always denied there is an issue and said the 28-year-old, who has scored 18 goals this season and 154 since joining the club in 2011, will only leave at a time of his own choosing.

He said: "We didn't speak about the contract. He has already a long contract here. He has a lot of money and wanted to invite his coach to have dinner. That is what it is."

Aguero signed a five-year contract in 2014. There was speculation he had agreed a one-year extension last summer but this has never been confirmed by the club.

Guardiola, who was speaking at a press conference to preview this evening's Premier League game against Tottenham, was also asked about the form of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

The Chilean, controversially signed as replacement for England number one Joe Hart earlier this season, has been criticised for his poor form.

The 33-year-old did not make a single save in last week's 4-0 defeat at Goodison Park, with City conceding each time Everton had a shot on target.

On the subject of the keeper's negative press, Guardiola said: "We accept it. It is part of our job - the manager's job, the players' job - so accept it."

Stronger

When asked how he could get the best out of Bravo, Guardiola spoke in general terms.

He said: "Do well in the boxes and be stronger than we were. We will be stronger in front, be stronger in back. We when are stronger at the back, we will be stronger in front."

In what was an awkward exchange, when asked whether he expected more from Bravo, Guardiola replied: "From myself too."

On the positive side, the signing of Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus was completed this week and the player will be eligible to play against Spurs at the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola said: "He is fit, he is ready to be involved in the squad, in the team. He is a young player, 19 years old, so we cannot think he is going to solve our problems but he is going to help us in the Premier League.

"It would have been easier if he could have arrived at the beginning of the season, now is the middle of the season with not too many training sessions, but he is smart and has quality."

Guardiola publicly wrote off City's title chances after the defeat at Everton left them 10 points behind leaders Chelsea in fifth place. He does not see this weekend's test against second-placed Tottenham as a way of getting back into the race.

Guardiola said: "We have already said goodbye to the title. It is not going to depend on what happens tomorrow."

"They are a good team, (and have been for) three or two years in a row. They are really playing good. As a fan of football, I love to see them."

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino believes capping 118 years at White Hart Lane by winning the Premier League would prove "the most important thing in Tottenham's history".

Spurs will leave White Hart Lane for one season to play home games at Wembley next term, before returning to a state-of-the-art new stadium at their north London home in 2018.

Pochettino hailed his White Hart Lane "warriors" for defending their prized citadel in remaining unbeaten in home Premier League action so far this term.

Second-placed Tottenham trail Premier League leaders Chelsea by seven points after 21 games, and face a City side smarting from last week's drubbing, but boss Pochettino still believes Spurs can mount a credible title battle.

Asked what it would mean for the club to sign off at White Hart Lane with a Premier League title, Pochettino said: "It would be amazing, the most important thing in Tottenham's history.

"This season we can feel in every game how our fans are excited to spend time at White Hart Lane.

"And you can imagine how tough it will be in a few months when White Hart Lane doesn't exist and we move to Wembley.

"It will be tough for our fans, for the people that love Tottenham.

"It's an energy, an extra that we feel, the players feel."

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