Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insists Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany remain part of his plans despite neither being in the starting XI for the Champions League clash with Barcelona.
Aguero was left on the bench for the 4-0 defeat, prompting speculation over the Argentine’s future at the club, and captain Kompany was left out of the matchday squad despite travelling to Barcelona, with his Belgium teammate Kevin De Bruyne saying he was available for selection.
However, Guardiola told a news conference that the defender had told him that he was not fit to face the La Liga champions.
Asked about both players ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Southampton, he said: “Out of my plans? I think I took a decision and my plans are that Vincent and Sergio’s futures are at Manchester City.
“Vincent was not perfectly fit. That is why we took a decision to pick Pablo Maffeo. We appreciate him a lot. Normally Vincent Kompany would be on the bench. But he was not fit.
“With respect to Sergio Aguero, I said after the game it was a tactical decision. I wanted one midfield player more in the middle with De Bruyne, he has the qualities to hold behind the line, behind the back-four and make the movements behind the full-backs.
“I try, even though I know how difficult it is, to keep the ball in the Camp Nou. Because when you have the ball, [Lionel] Messi, Neymar, [Luis] Suarez and so on don’t have the ball. At that moment they’re still dangerous but less dangerous than when they have it.”
Guardiola said he explained his decision to Aguero, who understood the tactical switch, and the City boss said it was up to the striker when he leaves the club because he sees him as part of his full-time plans.
“I spoke with Sergio, we talked about that, he was so understanding and helped us a lot from the bench.” he added. “In the last minutes if the game was close, the last 30-35 minutes and their central defenders were tired, I thought Sergio could help us a lot.
“But I am sorry, when Sergio decides to leave Manchester City, it will be his decision.
“I appreciate him like a football player and appreciate like a man what he did here. The next time before you give your opinion and you decide he is not in my plans you can call me before you write if he is in my plans or not in my plans. Well you call [City press officer] Simon, you don’t have my telephone number, and he can explain what is the truth.”
Guardiola also says that the club are trying to be careful with Kompany after his persistent injury problems. And he insisted the 30-year-old told him before the game in Spain that he was not fit enough to feature in the match.
“I’ve never been with Vincent, just training one or two months with him,” he said. “What I saw when he is playing, when he is fit — guys he’s a real central defender.
“I like him but we tried to take care of him. He was in Barcelona, he went to the doctors in Barcelona and said I’m not able to play.”