West Ham rule out Yaya Toure offer as Pellegrini plans Oxford stay

Yaya Toure will not be offered a deal by West Ham, with Manuel Pellegrini considering his squad to be “complete” without bringing the former Barcelona and Manchester City star on board.

The 35-year-old midfielder is currently a free agent after being released by the reigning Premier League champions.

An extended stay in English football has been mooted for the Ivorian, with his agent, Dimitri Seluk, claiming that Toure would happily join an ambitious side “with a salary of £1 per week” – such is his desire to get one over on former boss Pep Guardiola.

Pellegrini will not be making a move for a player he has previously worked with at the Etihad Stadium, though, with the Hammers having already strengthened their ranks over the summer.

The Chilean coach said: “Yaya Toure is a good player, but in this position we have our players.

“He will always be a good player, but for the moment he is not for West Ham. For the moment, the squad is complete.”

While moving to rule out one arrival, Pellegrini has also sought to bring speculation to a close regarding a possible departure.

Reece Oxford has been linked with another loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach, but the versatile 19-year-old will form part of West Ham’s plans this season.

“When we built up a squad we knew that some players had to go out, especially young players who need to play. They knew from the beginning they would go out on loan,” added Pellegrini.

“The squad is the squad I want for the season. I don’t think any other players are going out at the moment.”

Manuel Pellegrini

Pellegrini could have been forgiven for exploring other options after seeing his side crushed 4-0 by Liverpool in their opening fixture of 2018-19.

He has, however, laid out a blueprint for success at the London Stadium and intends to stick with it.

“The first game won’t change our mind,” he said.

“I was asked before the game what was the target for this season and we didn’t have a target, we just try to win every game we play.

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“After we lost that game we continue exactly the same, try to play as well as we can, try to play win as many points as we can.

“We are trying to have a solid team and I hope we can do it as soon as we can.”

West Ham return to action on Saturday when they play host to Bournemouth.


Guardiola takes swipe at Yaya Toure over racism allegations

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola appears to have taken a swipe at Yaya Toure over the midfielder’s controversial allegations against the Catalan.

After leaving City earlier this summer Toure gave a lengthy interview to a French newspaper in which he claimed Guardiola “has problems with Africans” and that the Ivorian’s perceived bad treatment during his final two seasons at the Etihad Stadium was “about my colour”.

Guardiola has dismissed those comments as a “lie”, telling TV3 in June: “We were together for two years and now this is when he says it. He never told me face-to-face.”

And ahead of City’s clash with Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday, Guardiola took the opportunity to hit out at players who “don’t have the courage” to make a complaint to their manager’s face.

Asked to explain one of his team talks, in which he told his players, “Some of you play better when you’re angry with me, so if you hate me, hate me, guys, no problem at all,” he stressed that his relationship with players does not matter, and appeared to use Toure as an example.

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“You cannot literally explain when you are in the dressing room and you say something,” he said at a press conference. “When you are here, cold, you can analyse that and it’s completely different. 

“But it’s true. Sometimes some players need you to be close to them and [then they give] the best performance, and sometimes when you don’t speak with them it’s when they play better. Any person is completely different to another one. 

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“Sometimes when they are angry with the manager for their decisions, or because you shout at them, is when they play better. The important thing is that they play better, not their relation with the manager, because the manager at the end he is top, he is an exceptional manager… when we are together. 

“But when they leave they write books and make statements, they don’t have the courage to tell them face-to-face. All of them when they are here they are so sweet. ‘Oh how good is the manager? He is a genius!’, but after that… and normally it’s because they don’t play, normally that is the only reason why, because this club always treats the players amazingly, really good.”

Toure played only a bit-part role in City’s historic title-winning campaign last season and is still searching for a club since becoming a free agent in July.


Man City youngster Adarabioyo set for West Brom loan

Manchester City defender Tosin Adarabioyo is set to join West Brom on a season-long loan, Goal understands.

Adarabioyo, 20, came close to leaving City on loan last summer, but remained part of Pep Guardiola’s senior squad after Eliaquim Mangala’s proposed move away from the Etihad Stadium fell through.

The centre-back made was handed a bumper new contract 12 months ago and made four appearances for City during the previous campaign, including three full outings; one in the Champions League and two in the EFL Cup. 

Guardiola referred to the youngster as a “champion” and part of his title-winning squad given he trained with the senior team throughout the 2017-18 campaign.

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He had received a number of offers in recent weeks but is set to move to West Brom, who are preparing for a season in the Championship.

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Adarabioyo’s place in Guardiola’s squad – effectively the fifth-choice centre-back – could now be filled by Eric Garcia.

The 17-year-old former Barcelona defender has impressed Guardiola since arriving in Manchester last summer, and was one of the stand-out performers during City’s three International Champions Cup matches in the United States.


Ex-Barcelona jewel Eric Garcia lighting up Man City’s pre-season

As Manchester City’s hectic transfer window sped along last summer, rumours circulated that yet another top-secret signing was jetting into the club’s City Football Academy base.

Having kept a major deal for Bernardo Silva under wraps until the very last minute, it appeared City had done it again. The Twitter user who had initially suggested Silva was on a flight to Manchester had piped up for a second time; another new player was on his way.

Sources at the CFA confirmed that something was afoot, and during a summer in which City chased Alexis Sanchez, Kylian Mbappe, Dani Alves and several secretive centre-back options, the online rumour mill went into overdrive.

A new player did arrive at City that day, a centre-back in fact, and he was flanked by illustrious duo Ivan De La Pena and Carles Puyol. But as the hours went by the fever died down, and the hype petered out. There was no photoshoot, no announcement, no fanfare.

There never is when youngsters are signed, no matter how good they are. And this one was a very good one. Despite chasing nine reinforcements for the first team, City ensured they did not miss out on one of the jewels of Barcelona’s La Masia academy.

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It was 16-year-old Eric Garcia. The centre-back had been at Barca since he was seven years old, captaining every youth team he had been in, despite playing in older age groups. Barca fans and beat journalists bemoaned his departure, holding it up as further proof of the mismanagement that has beset the famous club in recent years.

Barca themselves were so unhappy with Puyol’s role in the move, and the other implications of his being an agent, that the former defender recently called time on his new career altogether.

Garcia’s arrival in Manchester barely made a splash, however; City simply had bigger fish to fry and the pursuit of some of the world’s most established stars went on.

Yet just a year down the line Garcia is beginning to stand out. In fact he has already had some impact on Pep Guardiola’s transfer plans for the final two weeks of the current window.

Having missed out on Jorginho, Guardiola does not want to bring in a midfielder who could well prove useful this season, but may not fit in the longer term. If the right man does not appear in the coming days the Catalan is happy to use Fernandinho, Fabian Delph and, as a back-up, Oleksandar Zinchenko as his ‘pivot’ next season.

And sources close to Guardiola also stress that he believes Garcia, still four months from his 18th birthday, could also be used there in the future.

It has clearly been quite a year for the youngster.

Eric Garcia quote

Guardiola, despite his Barca connections, had not known much of Garcia while the youngster was breaking through at La Masia, but in the past 12 months the City boss has become a serious admirer.

With essentially all of the senior side recovering from the World Cup, City’s pre-season line-ups have looked more like one of their Elite Development Squads than the team that just won the title with 100 points.

There has not been much to cheer about from defeats against Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool but it is fair to say that Garcia has been the stand-out performer in both games, a feat more impressive when you consider his age.

“Eric Garcia is 17 or 18 and played like he is 24 or 25,” Guardiola said after the Dortmund game.

For the Liverpool clash Guardiola stationed the youngster in the middle of a back three, a role that comes with great responsibility.

“John [Stones] has a specific quality to squeeze our game,” Guardiola said last August, explaining why Stones played in the middle of a three-man defence. “His reading is so good, to be high, to read the intentions of the opponents. The first step, the first pass, John is better than the other ones.”

It is clear by now that Guardiola needs his defenders to be more than comfortable on the ball and in that respect Garcia is perfect. In his two senior outings this summer he has displayed a fine range of passing, not just playing the ball into midfield or up to the forwards as Stones and others have become accustomed to, but switching the play to the flanks.

That is to be expected for somebody who has been brought through at Barca, and of course the youngster understands the principles of Guardiola’s gameplan – remember that it takes many senior players several months to get it, if they get it at all.

But Garcia has also worked hard on the other aspects of defending since arriving in Manchester; he has felt a need to work on his physicality, given the profile of forwards and direct style of football he is now facing, and the fact that he is under six feet tall.

Eric Garcia Manchester City

Eric Garcia Manchester CityEric Garcia Manchester City

The maturity that he has displayed to everybody he has encountered around the CFA in the past year has also become evident on the pitch for City’s youth teams and now for the seniors.

He is very keen to talk about tactics, displaying a clear understanding of the game, and those who have come into contact with the youngster remark how he is extremely polite, although not shy, and comes across as much older than he actually is.

That is partly why, as at Barca, he has captained City’s U18 side despite being one of the youngest members of the squad. He represented Spain at the U17 World Cup and played the first two of his five matches in the Uefa Youth League, an U19 competition, when he was 16. He has also has played in the Premier League 2, an U23 competition.

He has often been used as a right-back, something he had not tried before leaving Barca, though he is most at home in the middle, as he has shown this summer when he has been barking the orders at his more senior team-mates. Of course, Guardiola has spotted his potential to be used at the back of midfield, too.

Last season he trained with the first team on several occasions and it is likely that he will do so again in the new campaign, and it is even a possibility that he could make the squad for a Carabao Cup game.

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Serious first-team opportunities are probably still some way off, for a number of reasons. For one, the way Mohamed Salah crept in behind him to score on Wednesday night is a stark reminder of how big the step up is, even if the Egyptian was offside.

Yet Phil Foden, a player Guardiola genuinely loves, is six months older than Garcia and has already made something of a breakthrough. Like Garcia, Foden had spent some time around the squad before being given game time.

There is, then, an opportunity for Garcia. He may not have set the pulses racing last summer, but he just might in future.


Man City facing contract stand-off with youngster Brahim

Manchester City are facing a contract stand-off with young prospect Brahim Diaz, Goal has learned.

The 18-year-old’s deal runs until next summer and both he and the Premier League champions had been expecting to renew terms ahead of the 2018-19 season.

But talks are yet to begin and there is currently a disagreement over where he will be playing his football during the coming campaign.

City are keen to send him out on loan to gain first-team experience, and are open to sending him to their La Liga sister club Girona.

Brahim’s preference is to break into the first team at City. Failing that, sources close to the player believe a permanent deal, rather than a loan, would be a better option for his development.

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It is understood that several clubs have registered their interest in signing the Spain youth international in recent months, something that has strengthened his advisors’ belief that he is ready for senior football.

The Malaga academy product made 21 first-team appearances for the Blues last season – all but one from the bench – and it is understood he while he is happy at the club and is determined to make the grade, he is not expecting his opportunities to improve now that City have bolstered their frontline with the purchase of Riyad Mahrez.

City do not want to sell Brahim, who is one of the club’s two brightest prospects alongside Phil Foden.

However, they may find it difficult to agree a new contract with the versatile attacking midfielder if the two parties cannot decide upon what is best for his short- and long-term prospects.

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A resolution could be found if City can convince the youngster that he will be given plenty of opportunities in the first team next season, or that a loan would open up that possibility further down the line.

Brahim will be given the opportunity to show what he can do on the pitch in the coming weeks, as he was named as part of a youthful City squad that will play three International Champions Cup matches in the United States.

But while City will be without Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling for the tour, Brahim must still compete with Mahrez and Leroy Sane, who will be expected to feature in the three matches against Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Bayern Munich.