Pep Guardiola has offered his congratulations to Manchester United as they close in on the signing of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.
City ended their high-profile attempts to bring the Chile forward to the Etihad Stadium this week, clearing the way for United to move in.
Premier League leaders City, who went close to landing Sanchez in a £60million deal last summer, felt the costs of a potential deal had risen too high.
Speaking at a press conference, City manager Guardiola said: “I’m not the guy with the mathematics, with the numbers. What I know now is he is still Arsenal’s player, but I think he is going to go to United.
“So, congratulations for both of them. The players and their managers (agents) decide where they want to play. Good luck.”
It is understood City were confident that Sanchez wished to play for them but his desire to leave Arsenal this month rather than in the summer, and the sums offered by United, changed the picture.
Asked further if he felt let down by the player, whom he worked with at Barcelona, Guardiola said: “I repeat the same. The players and their managers decide what’s best for both of them. There’s nothing to add.
“My opinion of Alexis remains the same. It was a pleasure to be with him at Barcelona. He has decided to move on to another club and I wish him all the best.”
Guardiola offered no update on whether plans to sign a new centre-half this month were progressing – City have again been linked with West Brom’s Jonny Evans – but stressed the character of any potential new player was important.
He said: “Always I believe if players adapt quickly, it depends on their quality and if they are nice people. We are looking for nice people to come to help us if we believe we need them.”
City suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season last weekend, their 4-3 loss at Liverpool seeing their lead at the top of the table cut to 12 points.
Guardiola has seen a positive reaction from the players in training and now wants to see that translate into a strong performance as they host Newcastle on Saturday.
He said: “In training there were no doubts. We reacted well after the (Crystal) Palace draw and we’ll react well in the future. I am pretty sure about that.”
Guardiola conceded “in the next weeks we have a problem” at left-back following injury to Fabian Delph.
City were already without first-choice Benjamin Mendy until April and now Delph will be sidelined “for a while” after suffering a knee injury at Anfield.
Captain Vincent Kompany is also still likely to be out with a calf strain but is considered “much better”, according to Guardiola.