Sport Pep Guardiola: I was offered Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January

Pep Guardiola: I was offered Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January

Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City turned down the chance to sign both players earlier this year

Pep Guardiola has sensationally claimed that only a few weeks ago he was offered the chance to sign Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitarayan from Manchester United by their powerful agent Mino Raiola.

The Manchester City manager sarcastically added that he was shocked Raiola, given the bitter feud between the pair, wanted to move two of his star clients to play for a “dog”. “I’m surprised because I am a dog,” Guardiola said in reference to the agent’s derogatory description of him.

Guardiola’s revelations, on the eve of the Manchester derby, a highly-charged derby in which City can win the Premier League title, are extraordinary and will also re-open his sulphurous dispute with United manager Jose Mourinho. Guardiola lit the blue and red touch-paper.

Suggesting that Pogba, and with Mkhitaryan sold to Arsenal in January, wants out of United will infuriate Mourinho who has been dealing with constant questions over the £89million record signing’s performances, state of mind and, above all, his relationship with him.

Guardiola made his amazing claim after being asked whether the United manager, given the fierce history between the two, was still his “big rival”. “I have many (rivals)… especially agents,” Guardiola responded. “I have a lot. I am a big boss. I’ll give you a huge list of my big rivalries, believe me.”

He was then asked directly whether Raiola was on that list given the animosity the agent has shown. That was recently renewed with Raiola attacking the Spaniard by saying: “Pep Guardiola, the coach, is fantastic. As a person he’s an absolute zero. He’s a coward, a dog.”

The pair have been involved in a long-running feud which erupted in 2011 when another of Raiola’s clients, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was forced out of Barcelona after disputes with Guardiola which denied the striker the chance of winning the Champions League, a prize that always eluded him. 

“I could answer him. I have a question, yeah, I will answer him, come on. Okay,” Guardiola said before making his incendiary claim: “I don’t understand why I am so… I agree with him. I am not a… Finally, the people discover my secrets; I am a bad guy. I’m a coward. I don’t understand why I am a so bad guy. I never speak with him (Raiola) so his influence on my opinion, so I don’t know maybe Ibra explain many things about me. But being a guy like two months ago he offered me Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us. Why?

“Why he offer? He was interested in Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us? So I’m like a guy, so he has to protect his players and he has to know so he cannot bring the players a guy like me, like a dog. And comparing a dog is bad. It’s not good. He has to respect the dogs.”

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