Pep Guardiola has confirmed Manchester City want to follow the £100m British‑record transfer of Jack Grealish by signing Harry Kane. Tottenham have rejected City’s £100m bid for the England captain and Guardiola admitted the deal is “finished” should the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, refuse to negotiate.
Kane is desperate to join the Premier League champions and is trying to force a move. City remain in the market for “maybe one more” major signing according to their manager, who said the Grealish deal was possible only after raising £60m in sales.
Guardiola, who did not completely discount the prospect of Lionel Messi becoming a stellar transfer alternative to Kane, said of the Spurs striker: “He’s a player for Tottenham Hotspur. If Tottenham don’t want to negotiate, it’s finished. If they are open to negotiate, I think not just Man City but many clubs in the world want to try to sign him – we are not an exception – but it depends on Tottenham.
“It’s different from Jack. Jack had a release clause and he is different. Harry Kane is an exceptional, extraordinary striker – no doubts about that, of course we are interested – but he is a Tottenham player and, if they don’t want to negotiate, there is nothing more to say. If they want to, we will try.”
Kane has failed to report to Tottenham’s training ground this week, the club having expected him back last Monday, but tweeted on Friday: “While I won’t go into the specifics of the situation, I want to clarify that I would never, and have never, refused to train. I will be returning to the club tomorrow, as planned.”
Spurs are baffled because, to them, it was clear that he was supposed to report on Monday.
Guardiola is reluctant to discuss transfer business in public but, in an expansive press conference before the Community Shield against Leicester on Saturday, revealed up to four first team players want to leave owing to lack of playing time. Bernardo Silva is among them and Guardiola, perhaps with a Kane deal in mind, urged any disgruntled player to go as a matter of urgency.
“Not just Bernardo, there are two, three or four players that want to leave,” he said.
“There are players that are not happy and they are the players who have to leave. They cannot stay here. They have to leave and now is the moment, not when the season is coming. Now is the time to bring agents here and say: ‘I want to leave because I want to play every three days and I’m not going to play every three days.’”
Guardiola admitted he wanted to sign Grealish “the first time I saw him playing”, having been captivated by the former Aston Villa captain’s ability to dictate the tempo of a game. He was keen to explain how, months after dismissing the possibility of spending £100m on a player, the champions did just that to buy the England international on Thursday.
“We could not afford it in the last 13 or 14 months,” he said. “But we sold young players from the academy and loan players for £60m. When you sell for £60m you can afford £100m, otherwise it could not have been possible.”
Grealish would have remained a priority signing for City irrespective of Messi’s shock departure from Barcelona, the manager said. “It happened that, when we signed Jack, everyone thought Leo would continue at Barcelona but we’ve been interested in Jack since a long time ago,” he said. “Of course here we have to be within the levels of financial fair play and we did it. We can prove it. If anyone is not sure about that we can go to the courts and defend it.
“We did it perfectly and we believe Jack will be perfect for us for the age, for the quality, because he is British, I am sure he will be a top player for the national team for the next five or six years and I am delighted to have him with us. He will settle good because he has many mates who know him from the national team and the way we play. We are going to create the environment for him to express his incredible talent on the pitch every three days. He has to prove himself at that. He has come from a team that plays one game a week and now he is going to play three games a week. I’m pretty sure he’s able to do it.”
The manager claimed he would have only “half a team” available for the Community Shield with Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne nursing injuries sustained at the European Championship. “Phil will be out for a while. It is a tough injury and we have to be careful with it,” he said. “I think Kevin will come back quicker than Phil but both will be out for a while.”