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Pep Guardiola: Man City boss says Ferran Torres' exit and hectic schedule will not persuade club to sign striker

Pep Guardiola again rules out Manchester City move for striker in January; Ferran Torres' move to Barcelona is 'close'; City boss insists a fixture pile-up is not just an issue around Christmas; Guardiola also suggests a player strike might make authorities take player welfare seriously

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes congested fixture schedules are a problem for players and spoke about the importance of player welfare as well as the reluctance to allow five substitutions in a game

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City will not sign a striker in January despite confirming Ferran Torres is nearing an exit from the club.

Barcelona have agreed a deal that could total £55m with City to sign Torres. The Spanish side will pay an initial £46.7m (€55m) plus a further £8.5m (€10m) in add-ons. Some £5.9m (€7m) of those add-ons are said to be more or less guaranteed.

Despite losing a forward from his squad, and having missed out on adding a replacement for all-time top goalscorer Sergio Aguero in the summer, Guardiola has no plans to go looking for a strike addition next month.

"We won't bring in a striker in January," Guardiola said, looking ahead to his side's Boxing Day clash with Leicester. "It (Torres move) is not done officially. I know they are negotiating, it's close, that's all. When the club announces it, it is done.

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says the club will fully support any decisions the Premier League makes with regards to the Covid pandemic

"We are not a club like other clubs when players want to leave and the owner says stay. If they want to leave because they feel they will be happier in another place, they have to go. I am happy for him."

As other clubs have had several matches postponed as a result of rising Covid-19 cases, City's fixtures have been unaffected.

The festive season remains congested for City nonetheless, but Guardiola does not believe a fixture pile-up is only an issue at this time of year.

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"The tradition for Boxing Day in football and the Premier League is massively important, it's a characteristic of the league that is so special, it won't change," he added. "I wouldn't change it, it's so important and nice for the families to go to the stadium.

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"The problem is the fixtures, the calendar, 365 days a year, the international teams with huge competitions and a lot of games. This is the problem. The players have two or three weeks' holiday in summer then the season again, it's too much.

"Now, we know the situation, five or six games postponed for many cases in many teams. It happens now for one or two years It's the reality. Maybe you have to adapt the situation in the next two weeks.

"Today the managers talk with the Premier League and broadcasters (in Thursday meeting) and decide what is the best for everyone.

"On the agenda at the meeting with Premier League and managers, captains, and senior players is whether to reintroduce five substitutes to help players cope with what will be an increased workload."

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Kaveh Solhekol explains why the Premier League has called off the Boxing Day games between Liverpool vs Leeds and Wolves vs Watford

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson questioned whether player welfare was central to decision-making in the Premier League, a sentiment Guardiola agreed with.

"This is the only country to not accept five substitutions, just three. Why?" Guardiola added. "We want to protect the players, so bring five substitutions. It's much better for the amount of games, but the Premier League and clubs decide no.

"If the players and managers come together and strike or something... just words won't solve anything. UEFA, FIFA, the Premier League, the broadcasters, the business is more important than the welfare. A simple example is the five substitutions. Tell me one argument to take care to be more welfare for the players than this one.

"If we talk about the welfare, if it's just for the players, the association of players they say okay we don't play anymore until you solve this. Maybe we need a strike for people to take attention."

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