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Guardiola: Playing away from home boosts young players talents

England could benefit if some players moved abroad, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

His former club Barcelona said they will continue to look at the English market for young players after former Arsenal midfielder Marcus McGuane made his first-team debut.

Highly-rated winger Jadon Sancho left City to join Borussia Dortmund in August, and Bundesliga clubs are also keen to snap up youngsters who find it difficult to make the breakthrough in England.

While Guardiola is keen to hang onto the big prospects at City’s academy, the Catalan said Spain benefitted in the past when young players moved to England.

“From my point of view, maybe I’m wrong, but one of the key ways that the Spanish league has made step forwards in the past decade or 20 years, to enjoy good success with their clubs and their national team, is that managers and especially players took the courage to say: ‘I’m going to England to play there,'” he told a news conference ahead of Monday night’s game at Stoke City.

“I think they became stronger players — Xabi Alonso, Mikel Arteta, Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas — a lot of young players decided to come here, and play in that league. When they came back into the national team, they were stronger. They were better.

“They helped a successful Valencia in that moment, Atletico Madrid and especially Barcelona and Real Madrid. They did very good things that helped Spanish football. I think it’s a good experience to move to another country and see different realities to your own.”

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One of Spain’s most successful players to move to the Premier League was David Silva, who won the World Cup and European Championship after joining City in 2010.

The playmaker, who missed the surprise defeat to Basel in the Champions League, will be back in the squad to face Stoke.

He will then return to Spain after the game to be with his family while the rest of City’s first team squad fly to Abu Dhabi for warm weather training.

“He will be ready to play against Stoke City and after that when we will go to Abu Dhabi, he will stay in Spain,” Guardiola said.

“What has happened has happened.
His family and son are the most important thing. Hopefully he can sort it as soon as possible, his lovely kid can grow and grow and he can stay with us all day.

“He’s got a lot of technical skills in a complicated league with the physicality, the weather conditions, the pitches, and he has survived to be one of the best players in England for a decade.

“He has been here for a long time and is playing in a high level. We are so happy to have him to extend his contract. It means a lot.

“He is a huge competitor. He is shy, he doesn’t speak too much but on the pitch when the moment is there and the game is on he is the guy who never hides in tough conditions when the game is not going well. He makes a step forward and that is so important.”

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City will be without striker Sergio Aguero against relegation-threatened Stoke while Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling could potentially be involved.

Benjamin Mendy has also returned to training after his cruciate knee ligament injury but Guardiola says they must be careful with his return.

“The most important thing after six months is to be careful. He believes: ‘I am strong, I will come back soon, I will play like I did before the injury.’ That is not happening. Even if he believes he is strong, he is not strong enough,” the City boss said.

“After six months, he has to be careful. But of course, it’s so important he came back. He trains in all the training sessions with us. The knee is going well, because he was operated on by the best doctor in the world for doing that. It’s going really well. We are so happy because maybe he can help us for 20 minutes, 25 minutes.

“We cannot forget Gundogan played in the past month a lot of games. I think all the games 90 minutes except the last. It was tough. But before that, he played one game, rested for two, one game, rested for two, because after six months, the next step is muscular injuries. You have to try to avoid it. Maybe he can go to the World Cup and come back next season stronger.”

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