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Pep Guardiola Plans £50 Million Man City Reunion With Former player

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Guardiola, who managed Thiago at both Barcelona and Bayern, wants the ‘new Xavi’ to help revamp City’s midfield next season, with David Silva, Fernandinho and Yaya Toure all in their 30s.

The City boss has said about Silva: ‘Next season, David maybe will not play every game, that’s why the squad has to be big.’

He signed Thiago for Munich in 2013, when the player was being courted by Manchester United, and has watched him return from a serious knee injury that cost him his place in the last World Cup.

Thiago is the son of 1994 Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho and his ability to dictate play in midfield makes him a natural replacement for Toure, whose contract at City is up in the summer.

He is under contract at Bayern until 2021 and was part of the team that reached the Champions League semi-finals last week.

Guardiola is not looking for more than three players in the next window, despite City’s own European exit against Liverpool last Tuesday.

But the club’s policy will be shaped by Premier League rules that allow a maximum 17 senior overseas players in any squad.

City already have 14, with Leroy Sane and Oleksandr Zinchenko due to become overage players next season. Eliaquim Mangala, who could leave in the summer after a loan spell at Everton, is also on their books.

Though Toure will go to free up one place, it does put City under pressure to sign homegrown players, with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha being monitored to see if he has the mentality and match intelligence to succeed at a top club following his disastrous spell as a younger player at United.

City are looking for a holding midfielder and a winger who can also play up front. They will also try to sign a striker if Sergio Aguero decides he wants to return to Argentina after the World Cup.

City are hoping for help from Manchester United today in their title quest, having missed their first opportunity to secure it last Saturday night as they surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 against United in the derby at the Etihad.

With that result trimming their advantage to 13 points, Guardiola’s side went into the weekend needing to find another two victories from their remaining six games to put top spot beyond United.

‘It can happen, of course it can, I assure you,’ said Guardiola when asked on Friday if City could yet feel the pressure of a challenge from United.

‘Real Madrid, years ago (in 2004), lost six games (from seven) and didn’t win the league.

‘Never before in the NBA had one team in the finals recovered from 3-1 down, and two years ago (Cleveland) Cavaliers beat Golden State Warriors 4-3. They won three games in a row.

‘My feeling is United will win a lot of points because they are in a good shape and have top players. They can win their games, all six.

‘So, we have to do it, like we have all season. It is in our hands. That is a good advantage.’

Guardiola, however, insists this is not something he needs to point out to his players because they have shown no signs of complacency throughout the campaign.

‘They know that. It is not necessary to say it,’ he said. ‘What I say to the players, and what they show every game is that it is not done. But we have handled the pressure all season.’

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