Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said he would like to have kept Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko at the club this summer, but understood their reasons for wanting to leave.

Sterling ended his seven-year stay at the Etihad Stadium with a £47.5m move to Chelsea, while Jesus and Zinchenko have reunited with former Man City assistant coach Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.

Guardiola has become notorious in England for his heavy rotation policy, particularly among his attacking options. He admitted that he would like to have kept the trio but was understanding of their desire to play more often.

“No [the transfers weren’t guaranteed to happen] because I was incredibly happy with Gabriel, Oleks and Raheem,” he said.

“If they stayed longer there would be no problem. They proved last year how good they are. 

“But sometimes the players want more, and the club feel it is the right moment to do it. But the most important thing is they leave happy with the club and what they have done.

“Normally when you talk about transfers in Spain, Germany, England, it is 10 per cent more. It happens and we know it. It happens because they are really good. They are the best ages and their best years are maybe coming now. That’s why they have a value in the market.

“Chelsea and Arsenal have paid the money that is fair. And the discussions were perfect, Txiki [Begiristain] told me. Good for both sides and really friendly.”

Listen now to 90min’s Talking Transfers podcast, with Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth. On the latest show they discuss Chelsea finally closing in on Jules Kounde, Man Utd’s ongoing pursuit of Frenkie de Jong, West Ham’s hunt for a new forward and left-back and more. Available on all audio platforms.

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download the episode in full!

Guardiola added: “This summer we have bought some exceptional people. And the rest we know each other. And we are sad because Raheem, Gabriel and Oleks were incredibly beloved. Since I arrived in Manchester, the chemistry has been incredible. It makes things good for me.”

One of Man City’s newest signings, Erling Haaland, scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in Green Bay on Saturday night, tapping in a low cross from Jack Grealish.

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