Pep Guardiola talks Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany
By Stephen Turner
Last Updated: 08/07/16 3:42pm
Pep Guardiola had words of encouragement for Raheem Sterling at his first Manchester City news conference as he offered an early appraisal of several of the club's stars.
City's new head coach said he was "curious" at the potential for helping Sterling lose the burden of his £49m price tag and offered support for England team-mate Joe Hart after criticism of his Euro 2016 performances.
Yaya Toure, sold to City when Guardiola was his boss at Barcelona, was described as "a huge talent" and captain Vincent Kompany given the one task of getting his body back in shape for Premier League football.
On the prospect of restoring Sterling's confidence after a disappointing summer with England, he said: "They were criticised because they lost. When they lost it wasn't the fault of Sterling. I heard in the last 10 days what happened, especially with Sterling.
"Of course he has a little problem that the money they paid is always in the mind of the people but I am curious, I am looking forward to working with him to try to help him, to show him how good a player he is. And not just him, Joe Hart and the other English players."
Toure's future has inevitably been the subject of speculation given what happened at Barca, but Guardiola spoke warmly of the midfielder, who has a year to run on his deal.
"I know Yaya for a long time," he said. "He did very well in Barcelona and here as well, so he is a huge talent.
"All the players that are here right now count on me, after that we see what will happen in the future, not just for Yaya but for the other players. While Yaya is here I count on him."
Kompany's injuries restricted him to just 13 league starts last season, and City are understood to be preparing an improved bid of up to £43m for Juventus centre-half Leonardo Bonucci.
Guardiola said: "England knows Vincent Kompany's quality better than me.
"My dream for him is to be fit. In the last two years he played not too many games, and without [fitness] we cannot talk about other points.
"He's captain, he has experience and he's a magnificent central defender. We've said, 'Just focus on your body to come back to what you were in the past with your physical position'."
Guardiola said he would love to work with a core of English players in the same way Catalans formed the backbone of his Barca side and Germans dominated at Bayern.
He cited prohibitive prices as a potential obstacle but said the quality of City's academy prospects - a big lure when he agreed to join - had already struck him in training.
"We're working with nine, 10 players from the second team and I'm really impressed with their quality. Really impressed," he said.