Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City will not buy a player in the January transfer window despite admitting he is concerned about his team’s growing list of injuries in defence.
The Premier League champions look destined to be without Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri until December after the pair reported fitness problems this week.
With Aymeric Laporte on the sidelines until well into the new year, Guardiola will be heavily reliant on John Stones and Benjamin Mendy, two defenders whose City careers have been severely hampered by injuries.
But while the City manager has expressed his concern, Guardiola insists cash-rich City do not intend spending when the transfer window re-opens at the end of 2019.
“I’m a little bit concerned because in a few positions we don’t have enough players,” said Guardiola.
“January window I think we are not going to buy. The club didn’t introduce me to the players they thought could help us so without that it’s not going to happen.
“Our need is not just for six months it’s for a long time and the important players will not be sold. We are going to stay all the season, I think, with all the players we have right now.”
With Rodri having played at centre-half in the past two games until injuring his hamstring against Atalanta in midweek, the emphasis would appear to be on Stones to remain fit and re-establish himself as a starter with City.
However, injuries meant the England international has not started consecutive games since February and Stones was in Guardiola’s bad books this week after he was not ready to come on as a substitute against Atalanta.
TV images showed Guardiola’s anger at his player and the City manager was still irritated by the incident when asked on Friday.
“The guys on the bench know you have to be ready to go out from the first minute,” he said. “Did you see the image? So it speaks for itself.”
Zinchenko, injured during the last international window with Ukraine, underwent minor knee surgery in Spain this week and is expected to be out for up to six weeks.
His absence will leave the left-back position open for French international Mendy, whose own City career has been plagued by serious knee problems.
“He played 90 minutes at Crystal Palace and on Tuesday too, playing 70-75 minutes incredibly against Atalanta and he’s not injured,” Guardiola said of Mendy.
“I think it’s coming that he can play regularly. Games, games, games and he will get to his best level.
“Still he is not on the level that we believe he can do it but that’s normal. After two seasons out, he needs time”
The long list of problems has tested Guardiola’s creativity and managerial skills to the full with the City manager having started the last two games with two central midfielders — Fernandinho and Rodri — at the heart of his defence.
“I would prefer it if all the players had no injuries but I have to do it,” Guardiola added.
“I said when Laporte happened that it is what it is. We can’t stop and complain, ‘oh what bad luck.’
“We have good players in the squad. In a few positions there are not many but we have incredibly good players. We’re going with them.”
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