In Depth

Man City boss Pep Guardiola pledges loyalty despite Champions League ban

Spanish head coach has been linked with Italian giants Juventus

Pep Guardiola has pledged his loyalty to Manchester City in the wake of the club’s two-season ban from the Uefa Champions League.

According to The Times, the Spaniard has “informed the Manchester City board and his players that he intends to carry on as manager”. 

The news will come as a huge relief to the City chiefs, who were reportedly “stunned” at the severity of the punishment handed down last week by Uefa. 

Not only are the reigning English champions suspended from European competition for two years but they were also slapped with a £25m fine after being found guilty of breaking financial fair play (FFP) rules between 2012 and 2016.

Although City will challenge the ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), it’s expected that the best they can hope for is a one-season reduction, and that will still leave a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Etihad.

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Man of honour

But The Times says that despite rumours at the weekend linking Guardiola to Juventus, the Spaniard will not invoke the break clause he has in his contract and will honour the final year of a deal that expires at the end of next season.

The papers say that Guardiola addressed the squad at the club’s training ground on Saturday and urged his players to use the ban as a motivation for the rest of the season. 

City play away at Real Madrid next week in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash, and on Wednesday they host West Ham in the Premier League. 

Guardiola will speak to the press about that match tomorrow - and inevitably most of the questions will be about the ban - but The Times expects him to confirm he will not be leaving the club.

Sterling staying

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail says that a number of star players are also staying loyal to the club - for the moment. 

Raheem Sterling is known to be on the radar of Real Madrid but the England frontman’s agent, Aidy Ward, told the Mail: “Raheem is solely focused on Manchester City and will not be distracted by any talk of transfers at the moment.”

The future of Sterling and his team-mates will probably hinge on the outcome of City’s appeal, although when exactly their case will be heard is unclear. 

The Daily Express adds: “It remains a possibility that CAS won’t be able to reach a verdict before the start of next season. In that situation, if the ban were to be upheld, it would be suspended for one year and come into force in the 2021-2022 season.” 

Today’s newspaper back pages

Del Piero says Guardiola is ‘destined’ for Juventus

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