Guardiola maintains Bravo is 'top goalkeeper' despite axing him from City side

10 February 2017 04:09

Pep Guardiola insists his opinion of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has not changed despite dropping him from his Manchester City side.

Bravo has struggled to impress at City since being controversially signed as a replacement for the abruptly-axed England number one Joe Hart earlier in the season.

The Chilean's disappointing form has led to him being left on the bench for City's last three games but Guardiola retains faith in the 33-year-old former Barcelona goalkeeper.

Guardiola said: "My opinion of Claudio remains the same. He's a top player, a top goalkeeper. He's one of the best in the world. His long career speaks for itself.

"Football, of course, here is more particular, more crosses, more special things, but, of course, he is a top, top goalkeeper. For me, there's no doubt about that."

Guardiola also denied having any regrets over his decisions to bring in Bravo, which was based on his superior footwork, or to allow Hart to join Torino on loan.

He said: "The decision I take is based on what I see, why one player is not here and another is. That's why I am here."

Despite his backing for Bravo, Guardiola revealed he had not yet decided whether he should return for Monday's Premier League trip to Bournemouth.

His replacement Willy Caballero has conceded just one goal in the three successive games he has started - the FA Cup win at Crystal Palace and Premier League defeats of West Ham and Swansea.

"I don't know," said Guardiola when asked which goalkeeper would play at a press conference to preview the trip to the Vitality Stadium. "I will decide the day of the game."

Guardiola also underlined the club's firm stance over the future of striker Sergio Aguero. City's top scorer has had to settle for substitute's roles in the last two Premier League games while new signing Gabriel Jesus has taken the chance to shine.

That has refuelled speculation over whether Aguero might leave in the summer. Last week the player himself even made comments which were open to interpretation, saying after the Swansea game: "In these last three months that are left (this season) I have to help the club and the club will decide if I have a place here or not. I want to stay, of course."

Club officials almost immediately stressed in strong terms that the Argentinian, who is contracted until 2020, would be staying, backing up previous remarks to that effect by Guardiola.

Asked about the situation again, Guardiola said: "Five minutes after those statements, Man City released a note saying the opinion of the club and manager about Sergio Aguero's future."

While that answer was fairly short, Guardiola was much happier speaking about his former Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm, who announced earlier this week that he would retire at the end of the season.

Guardiola said: "Philipp was and is a special person. He is one of the most fantastic players I ever trained in my life and one of the most intelligent.

"Football is going to miss one of the best players ever. He can play in 10 positions, no problems because he understands the game perfectly. It was a huge honour for me to be his manager."

Source: PA

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