Pep Guardiola explains his admiration for River Plate striker Julian Alvarez, who Manchester City signed on Transfer Deadline Day; City boss admits to mistakes in early handling of Joao Cancelo after defender’s rise to prominence; follow Man City vs Fulham on Sky Sports’ digital platforms
Friday 4 February 2022 23:00, UK
Pep Guardiola has welcomed Manchester City’s “really good deal” for Julian Alvarez but says he was happy to delay his new signing’s arrival until the summer.
The Argentine striker was signed on Deadline Day, but will remain on loan at his former club River Plate for the rest of the season.
Alvarez scored 20 goals from 28 starts for River in the Argentinian top flight in 2021 while he was still 21 years old, and had caught the eye of a number of prominent European clubs prior to his move to the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola said: “I saw the player many times and had information about him, and for the age, for the price, for many reasons said ‘wow, for the future it is a really, really good deal’. The guy who has a sense of goal, the quality, the movement in behind, he’s a street player.”
And the City boss has revealed the club turned down the opportunity to bring the 22-year-old to England for the second half of the campaign despite Gabriel Jesus being the sole recognised striker in their squad.
“He’s a player who could be already with us right now, but we have enough players in that position,” he said. “I don’t like to to have the many players in several positions and the best thing for him is to stay with River Plate where he has developed incredibly well in the last few years under Marcelo Gallardo.
“Then in pre-season, he will be with us, and we will decide what happens then because every season the squad changes, but I am personally and we are really pleased to have this talented player, a young player for the next years.”
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Versatile full-back Joao Cancelo was rewarded for his fine form in recent seasons with a four-year contract extension this week, keeping him at the Etihad until 2026.
In his first season in the Premier League, in 2019/20, Cancelo was restricted to only 13 Premier League starts, and was an unused substitute 17 times as Guardiola looked to other options at right and left-back.
The City boss now concedes he might have done more to ease the Portuguese’s transition into the side when he arrived from Juventus.
He said: “Everybody knows how important Joao is for us us and what he has done in the last two seasons, especially this season. We struggled together, in the first part when he arrived, we didn’t agree on many things, and that was partly my mistakes.
“I’m so delighted that he’s fully happy here and can play for this club for the next years because he is a versatile player who can play in many positions, he’s a guy who can play every day, his physicality is impressive, and of course there are skills that he has.
“Some players say okay, I will wait for my moment, but he wants to play every day. When he doesn’t play he’s not happy and sometimes he has to understand the reason why.
“Now he’s fully committed, and we know each other much better. Every player must be treated in a different way and I knew personally, with more time to know him, how sensitive he is. As a guy he’s an incredible person, he has a big heart, so sensitive.
“And sometimes some players have to be treated in different ways from the other ones. I needed time to understand him. And finally, I think I understand him a little bit more, and especially because he’s an important player for us compared to when he arrived.
“Of course we have a structure to understand the way we will play it and he struggled a bit to understand what we want to do, he needed time.”
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