Pep Guardiola has claimed Manchester City would be “killed” if they spent the sort of sums being coughed up by Chelsea over the last 12 months.
City’s spending has long been scrutinised since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008, with the club still facing 115 Premier League charges for alleged breaches of financial regulations.
But Guardiola insisted their approach had always been prudent, in contrast to that taken by Todd Boehly’s ownership group at Stamford Bridge, where the arrival of former City academy star Romeo Lavia this week had taken spending to nearly £1billion since the start of last summer.
City, who have signed Josko Gvardiol and Mateo Kovacic in this window, could go back into the market with Kevin De Bruyne facing up to five months out and uncertainty over Cole Palmer’s future, but Guardiola said they would only pay fair prices.
“I couldn’t sit here if we spent what Chelsea spent in the last two transfer windows – you would kill me,” Guardiola said. “You will kill me, that is for sure. We’d be under scrutiny like you couldn’t imagine.
“When people say just Manchester City and Pep Guardiola buy players, I didn’t know I had a lot of money in my pocket to buy all the players I have.
“We have to see what happens in the market and if we can do it and to pay what we believe is fair.
“We wanted (Harry) Maguire and didn’t buy him because we didn’t want to pay, we wanted (Marc) Cucurella and didn’t pay, we wanted Alexis Sanchez and didn’t pay.
“In the end we will pay what is fair to do it. Otherwise, we have the academy.”
Guardiola was adamant he was not criticising Chelsea, but the Catalan clearly feels a sense of double standards.
“They can do what they want,” he added. “I don’t criticise Chelsea for one second. I’m saying, if we do it, we are dead, all around the world. They can do whatever they want…
“If they want to spend, I don’t know, £900million since (Boehly) arrived, 900 more, 900 more. They have it. The business is the business. They sell a lot this season so they can do it.
“I don’t like when they criticise me, what we do, what I have to say. Everyone has their own business and everyone does what is best for the club.
“Everybody wins. Tell me the truth: are you enjoying a lot the transfer window? This player, the other one, every few minutes on Sky TV, a new player here, new player there. It’s so funny.”
This summer’s transfer window has been shaken up by the influx of cash from the ambitious Saudi Pro League, with City having sold Riyad Mahrez to Al-Ahli and accepted an offer from Al-Nassr for Aymeric Laporte.
“Everybody complains about Saudi Arabia, the clubs, then they open the door, red carpet, ‘What do you want my friend?'” Guardiola said. “They sell everything. They are so happy. Everyone complains but everyone opens the door.”
With De Bruyne set for surgery on a hamstring injury, Guardiola said he was speaking to director of football Txiki Begiristain about their options in the window.
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 18, 2023
“We maybe need to add someone else,” Guardiola said. “My opinion is I like a small squad. But the blow from Kevin changes the perspective. He is a very important player and it is not one or two weeks.
“It’s four or five months, he’s 32 years old and he needs to be physical because of the way he plays physically. So we have to reflect a bit on the squad and think about what we have to do but we have to control.
“But we are not the only ones spending a lot of money in the last few years.”