Guardiola talks Palmer, Paqueta as Man City prepare for ‘difficult’ PL opener against Burnley

Jason Soutar
Pep Guardiola speaks to Cole Palmer during a Premier League match.
Pep Guardiola speaks to Cole Palmer during a Premier League match.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has publicly told Cole Palmer there is “one more place” available in his attack following Riyad Mahrez’s move to Al-Ahly.

City agreed to sell the Algerian international to the Saudi Arabian outfit in a deal worth at least £30million, which could open the door for England Under-21 winger Palmer.

Palmer came off the bench to score a beauty against Arsenal in Sunday’s Community Shield defeat and has been linked with a move to West Ham this week.

Guardiola insists there will be more opportunities for the 21-year-old – who only started two matches in 2022/23 – this term.

“Cole [Palmer] is with us,” Guardiola told reporters on Thursday. “Today he is with us. What is going to happen, I don’t know.

“I understand he wants to be more active than the previous season. But Riyad has gone so we have one more place there.

“I cannot say anything because, of course, all the decisions need to be made by the club. The club has to decide what the best is. All together, we will do it.”

Rumours linking Palmer to West Ham stemmed from City’s interest in Lucas Paqueta and Guardiola refused to comment on speculation, saying: “I will not answer about Paqueta; he is a West Ham player.”

The Premier League champions get 23/24 underway against newly-promoted Burnley, who were brought up from the Championship under ex-City captain Vincent Kompany.

“Normally the first games are difficult, especially against a newly-promoted team,” Guardiola said. “They have energy and want to start well.

“Vinny [Kompany] knows us well. He did an incredible job and destroyed the Championship. To win, win, win is so difficult in the competition.

“He is going to do really, really well [in the Premier League]. It is going to be a difficult game.”

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After winning the Treble last season, Guardiola insists his team are ready to go again.

“It feels like it finished yesterday but we start again,” the Spaniard noted. “We start from zero and go game by game.

“It is not good to think about the title in August and September. We will go day by day and try to get better each day.

“I don’t think it will be possible to do what we did last season.

“We climbed the highest mountain last season but we have come down that mountain now.

“We start the same as everyone else. Our mentality will dictate how the season will be. Every season you start from zero. The history speaks for itself.

“We need to try and do a performance against Burnley, then Newcastle, and then Sheffield United.

“I have to challenge myself. The players have to challenge me. We have to respect each other. We start again and we will see.

“We will take it step by step, compete like we did against Arsenal and go again. Let’s go again.”

There have been some complaints over the Premier League’s decision to measure time lost to stoppages more accurately, an approach first adopted at the World Cup in Qatar last year where an additional 11 minutes and six seconds were played on average in the group stage.

This, on top of what is going to be a brutal schedule for City as they compete in three domestic competitions, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, is not good for player welfare, Guardiola says.

“Sometimes there were meetings with UEFA and the Premier League,” he said. “We were there. It is OK to play football, but we don’t have enough days.

“When people say that we play in the same conditions as the other teams in the Premier League, we don’t; we play more games than other teams. We play much more.

“We will play Newcastle on the Saturday after facing Sevilla on the Wednesday. We cannot give a day off to the players.

“UEFA decide, FIFA decice, the Premier League decide and the clubs in Europe decide. I don’t think anything is going to change.

“When they invite us [managers] to these meetings, we are busy with a game to prepare for. I don’t have time. It is a lot.

“Every season is the same, except we play the Super Cup against Sevilla and the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia. The rest is the same. We will see at the end of the window.”

Friday’s encounter at Turf Moor is the opening fixture in this season’s Premier League and Guardiola has said new signing Josko Gvardiol is “ready and available”.

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