Pep Guardiola coy on Manchester City interest in Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez ahead of deadline day

City want Mahrez to replace Leroy Sane while he is injured for the next seven weeks

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
@mjcritchley
Tuesday 30 January 2018 20:51
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Mahrez is thought to want a move to Manchester City
Mahrez is thought to want a move to Manchester City

Pep Guardiola remained coy on Tuesday when asked about Manchester City’s interest in Riyad Mahrez, the Leicester City playmaker.

City made an enquiry regarding Mahrez’s availability yesterday, the penultimate day of this month's transfer window, only for Leicester to insist that the 2015-16 PFA Player of the Year is not for sale.

It is understood that City are willing to pay up to £60m for Mahrez, who has only emerged as a target in the last few days following an injury to winger Leroy Sané. Sané is set to miss up to seven weeks of football after suffering ankle ligament damage in the FA Cup fourth round win at Cardiff City on Sunday.

However, Mahrez may need to force through a move if he desires one, given Leicester's hardline stance. When asked about City's interest in Mahrez on Tuesday, ahead of their meeting with West Bromwich Albion the following night, Guardiola said: “I have interest in a lot of players, good players.

“There are many, the window is open until the 31st. We spoke many times with the club to see what is the best with the players we have.”

City announced the £57m signing of Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Club on Tuesday, with the central defender becoming the most expensive player in the club's history. Guardiola noted that there is a lack of depth to his small, flexible and – so far – successful squad, but he accepts that it could do with strengthening.

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“Right now, we have just three strikers with Raheem [Sterling], for the next month or month and a half,” the City manager said. “Gabriel [Jesus] is coming maybe in the next five or six weeks. We don't have too much and we play every three days. We have to find solutions.”

Following an injury to first-choice left back Benjamin Mendy, Guardiola has spent the season with makeshifts Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko in the position.

At centre-half, he has only been able to rely upon John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi consistently, hence the signing of Laporte.

“I said to the club if Laporte can come now - we were going to do it in the summer - but if he can come now then it's better, maybe he can help us,” Guardiola said. “If things are not possible, then nothing is going to happen.

“What they have done - I have to trust them. But of course we are thinking about this summer, next summer - the future.”

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