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Pep Guardiola: Man City boss brushes off Barcelona speculation

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City contract expires next summer but he wants to "stay longer"; Guardiola urges Premier League to have rethink on five substitutes; no timeframe on Sergio Aguero's return from hamstring injury

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Pep Guardiola brushes off speculation of a return to Barcelona, saying he is incredibly happy at Manchester City and hopes to stay beyond this season

Pep Guardiola hopes to remain at Manchester City beyond this season despite Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font saying he wants him to return.

Font, who is the frontrunner to replace Josep Maria Bartomeu following his resignation earlier this week, told Sky Sports News he wants to bring Guardiola back to the Nou Camp while also holding onto Lionel Messi.

Guardiola is in the final year of his contract with City but hopes to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium.

"I am incredibly happy here," said Guardiola. "I'm delighted to be in Manchester and I hope I can do a good job this season to stay longer."

Sergio Aguero is substituted in the second half
Image: Guardiola says muscular injuries have risen dramatically in the Premier League this season

Guardiola has had to deal with a host of injuries in the early part of the season, a problem he feels has been exacerbated by the shortened summer break and the intensity of the pandemic-affected calendar.

Other clubs have also been affected and Guardiola has urged the Premier League to consider reverting to allowing five substitutes, as they did in the closing stages of last season after lockdown.

"Definitely they should, 100 per cent," said the City boss. "It is not only about one club.

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"There are statistics which don't deny. In the Premier League football players have 47 per cent more muscular injuries than the previous season, due to no preparation and the amount of games.

"All the leagues, Germany, Spain, have five substitutions to protect the players, not to protect one team or another.

"Hopefully they can reconsider and do what the rest of the world does. We have to adjust many things during this pandemic, the reality is completely different to before.

"The intelligent people adjust the situations in the world for the benefit of football and the players. We will see.

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Pep Guardiola believes five substitutions would have been better for this season after Premier League clubs voted against the idea

"Why should we not do it? It makes no sense, honestly, no sense.

"At the end, [those] who voted to make the decision - the sporting directors, the presidents, the chairmen - who are they to decide this? Who are they? They have to protect the players.

"It has to be the managers or the association of the football players [the PFA]. They are ones who have to decide whether it's three or five substitutions when it's acceptable for UEFA, FIFA and everywhere."

Pep unsure on Aguero timeframe

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on October 24, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Image: Sergio Aguero suffered a hamstring injury against West Ham

Guardiola does not yet have a clear timeframe for when record goalscorer Sergio Aguero will be able to return.

Aguero suffered a hamstring injury in last week's draw at West Ham and could be out for up to a month.

"He is progressing," said Guardiola. "He is still is not available to train with us but is progressing."

Gabriel Jesus and Nathan Ake have also been sidelined but are closer to returning. Benjamin Mendy, however, looks set to be out longer.

"Gabriel is getting better, Nathan is getting better," said Guardiola. "The others we will check today [Friday] but Mendy can't train."

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