Clubs, English Premier League, Manchester City, Story

Don Hutchison and Alison Bender discuss how defender Aymeric Laporte would fit in if he signs for Manchester City.
Athletic Bilbao manager José Ángel Ziganda says he has heard nothing of a transfer deal to take star defender Aymeric Laporte to Manchester City, but admits that they should brace themselves for bids.
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s season will still be viewed as a success even if they end up with no trophies after they’re unbeaten streak earlier in the season.

Pep Guardiola claims Manchester City cannot win a quadruple — because the cash required is beyond even them.

City, who are 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and still in three knockout competitions, have spent more than £300 million on players in the 18 months since Guardiola became their manager.

The outlay could also increase before Wednesday’s transfer deadline with City understood to be in talks to sign Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, who has a £60m buy-out clause.

Despite this, Guardiola still does not think his squad is of sufficient depth and quality to land all four of the prizes for which they are competing.

Guardiola said: “When you are in four competitions, fighting to be there, sometimes you have to be lucky in terms of injuries or have 22 top players.

“But to have 22 players, you need — people maybe don’t believe me — money we do not have. To compete in a high level you need 22 top players.

“Today, 22 top players is so expensive. You cannot buy. Even City. There are salaries we cannot pay and there are transfers we cannot pay.”

City have spent heavily to reach the top since their takeover by Sheikh Mansour almost a decade ago.

They have shown there are limits, however, by pulling out of a deal to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal this month due to the rising costs. Sanchez subsequently joined Manchester United.

Guardiola has no complaints about the decision taken by the club.

He said: “Maybe in the future it is going to happen but we did not pay one player more than £100m, £90m, £80m. We cannot pay.

“Why not? They told me we cannot. That is the truth. To be in four competitions, when we have recoveries and every three days we play, we need 20-22 top players. Today it is impossible to have that.”

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