Eric Garcia: Man City boss Pep Guardiola admits defender could leave in January

Eric Garcia is in the final six months of his Manchester City contract after turning down a new deal last summer; the 20-year-old has been strongly linked with a return to Barcelona; watch Manchester City vs Crystal Palace live on Sky Sports Premier League on Sunday from 7pm

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola admits he 'doesn't know' whether defender Eric Garcia will leave the club in January to join Barcelona

Pep Guardiola is unsure whether Eric Garcia will still be a Manchester City player by the end of the transfer window.

Garcia is in the final year of his contract at the Etihad Stadium after rejecting a new deal last summer.

The 20-year-old, who came through Barcelona's academy before joining City in 2017, is now entitled to speak with other clubs and Guardiola admits he could depart this month.

Asked if that might happen, the Manchester City boss said: "I hope not, but maybe someone from Barcelona knows more than me.

"I don't know what's going to happen, but maybe it's going to happen."

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Garcia is one of Barcelona's top three transfer targets along with Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum and Lyon forward Memphis Depay.

However, they are not expected to make any new additions until the outcome of the presidential election on January 24.

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Garcia is at least back in contention to play this weekend after returning to training following a spell in isolation with coronavirus. City host Crystal Palace on Sunday evening, live on Sky Sports.

Defenders Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake are out injured and striker Sergio Aguero is still isolating after being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Guardiola said: "I think Eric Garcia will (be) back. Nathan and Ayme are still not fit, Sergio I don't think so. The rest I think are okay."

Pep 'more than happy' with Sterling

Raheem Sterling misses a penalty against Brighton
Image: Raheem Sterling has missed three successive penalties

Guardiola leapt to the defence of Raheem Sterling after his latest penalty miss during Wednesday's 1-0 win over Brighton.

Sterling has scored three goals in his last 18 games but Guardiola rejected suggestions the England international has regressed in front of goal.

"He's an incredibly important player for us," said Guardiola. "Everything we have done in the past without him would not have been possible.

"He will score goals, he will make assists and he will help in all departments like wingers normally aren't able to do.

"I am more than happy and delighted to have him here with us."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City's win over Brighton in the Premier League

City are emerging as strong title contenders after winning their last four Premier League games.

Guardiola feels it is victories such as the hard-fought success over Brighton that prove the true mettle of a side.

He said: "If you look at the results for the top teams, every game is complicated and difficult. When you win away against two incredible teams like Chelsea and Man United the headlines are nice but the reality was Brighton and we knew it.

"We played really good against Brighton. We created chances to score three or four goals but we suffered in the last minutes not because we were bad but because they were good.

"Every game difficult and Sunday will be no exception."

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