Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has challenged the club’s critics to come up with the evidence if they believe the Blues are breaking Financial Fair Play rules.
Thirteen months after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned City’s two-year ban from European competition for breaching Uefa’s FFP rules, questions about the club’s spending are again being raised.
Guardiola defended City’s British record £100m signing of England midfielder Jack Grealish.
The Spanish manager insists the deal was only possible because of the £60m-worth of sales by the club over the past 12 months, including the £11m received from Borussia Dortmund following Jadon Sancho’s move to Manchester United.
‘If we are wrong, prove it’
However, with City understood to be preparing an offer in excess of the sum they spent on Grealish to try to persuade Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to let Harry Kane join them, Guardiola responded to a fresh broadside from Jurgen Klopp.
The Liverpool manager said his club could not be compared to City because “obviously they have no limits”.
It is a view Guardiola rejects.
“We have limits because of FFP,” said the City boss. “We are on the same page like everyone. After that, each club decides what they want to do. Every season we have passed the controls that are there for everyone. If we are wrong, prove it.”
Guardiola evidently feels the criticism of City’s Abu Dhabi-based ownership is triggered by clubs whose own owners do not wish to invest on the same scale.
“I have said before, there are owners who want the benefits for themselves,” he said.
“Our owners don’t want to lose money but if they can spend, they will.
“In the past, [Manchester] United won a lot of titles because they spent more money than the other clubs. You remember that? They spent more than Manchester City because we couldn’t do it.
“Before it was one club, or two, or two and a half. Then other clubs arrived – Chelsea with [Roman] Abramovich, us with Sheikh Mansour. They want to be in this world. What is the problem?”
‘No guarantees of success’
For many, the problem is that City’s spending threatens to take them so far clear of almost every other club that meaningful competition becomes impossible.
Guardiola uses his own Champions League successes with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011 to reject that theory as well.
“There are no guarantees,” he said. “You can win with different squads, different players and in different situations.
“At Barcelona, I had the best player I ever seen in my life, Lionel Messi, in the academy. We won the Champions League twice with seven players from the academy at zero costs. Each club has its own reality.”