Men's Team

Guardiola: I would love Haaland and Mahrez to be at the World Cup

Pep Guardiola says he would prefer it if Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez were at the World Cup.

Both players will be absent at Qatar 2022 after their respective countries Norway and Algeria missed out on qualification.

While it could be seen as an advantage to have key players rested  ahead of the restart in mid-December, the boss wants all his players to experience the magic of the tournament.

Asked whether it was positive for Haaland to miss out on the World Cup, Guardiola said: “I would prefer for Erling to go with Norway, unfortunately they did not qualify.

“Hopefully he will recover perfectly from his injury, then [on holiday to] Marbella for a few days, maybe go to Norway and then come back when we come back to training.

“I would love for him and Riyad and the other ones [to go to the World Cup], but it is what it is.”

The bulk of our squad will be away for the tournament including Kyle Walker, John Stones, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden with England.

And the date of their return to City will depend on how far each country progresses in the tournament.

While the date of the Carabao Cup fourth round clash with Liverpool is still to be confirmed, it is scheduled to take place a few days after the World Cup final with the Premier League clash against Leeds United on 28 December.

“I don't know how many players we will have,” Guardiola said. “I know Riyad, Erling, Sergio [Gomez], Rico [Lewis] and the rest of our people will go to the World Cup.

"You go through the group stages or you don't go through, last-16 or quarter finals, it depends on that whether they are coming.

“If players don't go through group stage, they may be able to play against Liverpool and Leeds, but if they arrive in later stages we will see what condition they come back.

“After the World Cup, we are here to train. Liverpool is the first one, how many players do we have? Okay, these ones, then we'll play with these ones.

"We will have breakfast together at the CFA and we will see them and say: 'okay now we have these players!'."

“We will be in Abu Dhabi, come back and stay here with the second team, train with them, prepare with the players we have.

“After Liverpool then Leeds and prepare day by day. I don’t know in which condition and which players will be back. Mostly all the teams have players in international teams.”

Meanwhile City have the chance to move top of the Premier League with a victory over Brentford on Saturday (kick-off 12:30 UK) although Arsenal will have the chance to leapfrog back to the summit if they win their game against Wolves later in the day.

Despite missing out on the Champions League places last season, Guardiola is not surprised that the Gunners are among the leading challengers, particularly with former assistant coach Mikel Arteta in charge.

“Mikel and I worked together two years - but he has been being taught since he was born," the boss added.

"Maybe I learned more from him when we together. Arsenal belongs completely [at the top] to - their work ethic, the talent they have and the support Mikel had in the bad moments at the beginning when the results didn't come.

"We have had an incredible season so far but they have been better. I know they will be an huge competitor until the end. We want to be as close as possible to them but the season is so long.

"Many things is going to happen and there's many tough games to play so relax and see what happens."

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