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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 January 2019

Pep Guardiola: Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz acquisition good sign for Manchester City academy

Manager not unhappy about youngster's exit as he prepares side for League Cup semi-final first leg against Burton

Real Madrid's new midfielder Brahim Diaz, right, was previously at Manchester City. Emilio Naranjo / EPA
Real Madrid's new midfielder Brahim Diaz, right, was previously at Manchester City. Emilio Naranjo / EPA

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Brahim Diaz's departure for Real Madrid is a sign of good work being done by the club.

City had attempted to persuade the 19-year-old Spaniard to extend his contract with the club he joined aged 14, but conceded defeat this week and sold him to Madrid in a deal which could rise to £22 million (Dh103m).

Asked if he was disappointed to lose Diaz, Guardiola said: "No. I said many times, we did with Brahim the same we did with Phil [Foden] and Jadon [Sancho], we did absolutely everything but in the end the only one who decides to stay is Phil so that's all.

"We wish him all the best. Of course going to Real Madrid is not a bad step and hopefully he can get the minutes he didn't get in the last period for many reasons. Nice guy.

"On the other side, again, congratulations for our academy, they are working so well and in the end this is what happens, important teams in Europe want to sign our players because it's working really well."

Wednesday's League Cup semi-final first leg against Burton is the sort of match in which Diaz might have expected to make one of his rare first-team appearances, and Guardiola conceded it was too soon to say if his team might be short-handed if they continue to progress in several competitions.

"Hopefully not," he said. "With four competitions still, everybody will play, everybody will be involved. We have games every three or four days. We need everybody."

The League Cup was the first trophy Guardiola lifted in England, but he acknowledged it was low on the priority order.

"Winning is important, we cannot deny it, we are here in the semi-finals and it's one step to go back to Wembley, that's why we take it seriously in that game once we are here," he said.

"It's true the Carabao Cup is the more local competition. Everybody is happy to win but nobody is sad if they go out in that competition. Once we are here, we are going to try."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has shifted his focus to the League Cup. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has shifted his focus to the League Cup. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters

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Meanwhile, Guardiola rejected claims he had ordered the grass to be grown longer at Etihad Stadium ahead of last week's 2-1 win over Liverpool which reignited the Premier League title race.

"I am not the groundskeeper," he said. "I never did. If they want to play quick, we want to play quicker. Always we try to put water [on the pitch] but it's not necessary here with the weather. We want to cut the field always.

"It's better conditions for both teams. When this happens, you do the best for your opponents. We have to respect them with the rules.

"I never speak with the groundsmen...I trust the groundsmen. I never made a phone call to say 'do this to damage our opponents'."

Updated: January 8, 2019 08:12 PM

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