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“We don’t have that” – Pep Guardiola exasperated by Manchester City transfer decision amid midfield dilemma



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Pep Guardiola has admitted that Manchester City are still coming to terms with the exit of former club captain Ilkay Gundogan.

The 33-year-old, who captained Manchester City to a historic treble last season, opted against signing a new contract at the Etihad Stadium and completed a free transfer to Barcelona in late June.

Gundogan played an integral role in the Blues’ success under Guardiola, winning 14 trophies and scoring 60 goals during a seven-year stay at the club.

Manchester City signed midfield pair Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes following the exit of the German international, with Guardiola bringing in reinforcements with previous Premier League experience.

Kovacic, who is a four-time UEFA Champions League winner, swapped Stamford Bridge for the Etihad Stadium, and inherited the number 8 shirt from Gundogan in an initial £25 million move.

Meanwhile, Nunes completed a £53 million transfer from Wolves, signing on Deadline Day following an impressive debut season at Molineux, having moved from Sporting Lisbon for a club-record fee in 2022.

Nunes has made 18 appearances for City, including a fourth Premier League start against Burnley in midweek.

Kovacic has featured in 26 matches for the Sky Blues, having made his debut against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in the FA Community Shield.

Despite the arrival of both players during the summer, Guardiola believes that Manchester City are yet to successfully fill the void left by Gundogan.

“They’re different,” admitted Guardiola.

“So (Mateo) Kovacic likes to see the game as a holding midfielder, he’s not a player in the box like (Ilkay) Gundo(gan)

“Gundo was unique in that terms; he can play in the build-up and after have the tempo, and that tempo is difficult to find it. We don’t have that player like.

“Matheus (Nunes) has another quality, but he’s a guy that always he can arrive to the box, but the intelligence from Gundo is difficult to find.”

City travel to Brentford on Monday evening, having the opportunity to move to within two points of league leaders Liverpool with a win in west London, after Jurgen Klopp’s side suffered a 3-1 loss to Arsenal on Sunday.

The Sky Blues are looking to win a sixth Premier League title under the management of Guardiola, and first without Gundogan in the squad.