As Manchester City prepare to do battle with Real Madrid in the Champions League, Pep Guardiola has revealed that defender Eric Garcia no longer wants to play for the club.
The young Spaniard has come through the Etihad academy and has been first choice centre-back alongside Aymeric Laporte since football restarted following the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Despite that, Garcia has told the club that he has no intention of renewing his contract with them and will now likely leave the club this summer with Barcelona interested in the 19 year old.
Guardiola’s admission that “he wants to play at another club” will come as a blow to City, who had obviously planned to use him more regularly next season as Nathan Ake joined the ranks and John Stones likely to leave the club. But now Garcia is adamant he wants to play at the Camp Nou, has John Stones just been given a reprieve?
The England international is 26 years old now and has been at Man City since a 2016 move from Everton for £50million. He has made 133 appearances for the club during his four seasons at the club but has been continually plagued by injuries which have hampered his development.
Following his move, Stones was regarded as the best young English defender to come through since Rio Ferdinand because of his ball playing ability and leadership qualities. It was expected that playing under Guardiola would benefit him greatly, as he would be allowed to his express himself on the ball while also learning from one of the best coaches in the world.
However Guardiola soon gave up on Stones, dropping him to bench and drafting in £60million Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao. Nicolas Otamendi was preferred to him for a long while too before Guardiola opted most recently for Garcia.
Nathan Ake’s £41million transfer from Bournemouth was confirmed this week and with City still targeting Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, Stones’ days at the club were numbered. But with Garcia now set to leave and City still looking at Koulibaly as the big defensive signing for the summer, Stones could be used as the back-up defender.
While that doesn’t sound like the most appealing thing in the world for someone as highly rated as he was, that’s the reality of his standing in the game right now. If he wants to start regularly, he’ll likely have to take a pay-cut and go somewhere where Champions League football isn’t a possibility. He’s previously stated in interviews that he wants to stay at City and play Champions League football.
With the way Guardiola rotates his teams and the injury history of all his defenders, there’s every chance that he’ll be able to get a decent amount of appearances under his belt next season. That would give him every opportunity of getting into England’s Euro 2020 squad before evaluating his options before he entered the final year of his contract.