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Manchester City

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Stoke boss Hughes jokes Guardiola might play a midfielder in goal

Fabian Delph almost made a move to Stoke City before deciding to stay at Man City.

Mark Hughes has joked Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola would have midfielders as goalkeepers if he could having seen Stoke target Fabian Delph transition to left-back.

The Potters were keen on bringing in Delph over the summer only for the 27-year-old, who made just two Premier League starts under Guardiola last term, to decide he wanted to fight for his place at the Etihad Stadium.

Delph has had a run in City's team of late, though it has been at left-back owing to Benjamin Mendy's knee injury.

Hughes envisaged Delph slotting into his engine room and quipped Guardiola might want a team of midfielders given his penchant for players in that position.

"He'd have come here as a midfielder,'' Hughes said of Delph. "I think Pep likes midfield players. I think he'd play a midfield player in goal if he could! He wants them all over the pitch!''

The Potters boss revealed he could still revisit a deal for Delph down the line should he find himself frozen out at City in the future.

"It's a decision Fabian made and you have to respect that,'' Hughes added. "But he understood we were very keen, it didn't happen this time, but you never know in the future. Things change.

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"We've had examples where we've missed out on players before and we've revisited it, and they've ended up coming here.

"I give the example of [Xherdan] Shaqiri, he went elsewhere and it didn't work for him, so he ended up coming here in the end. That can happen, you never say never.

"I think we were very close to getting him here; we expressed a real interest in bringing him.

"Certainly Fabian Delph felt we were a very good option and he thought very deeply about whether or not he needed to leave Man City, and I think in the back of his mind he felt there was unfinished business there.''

Hughes' Potters visit the Premier League leaders on the back of a 2-1 victory over Southampton prior to the international break, a game in which Saido Berahino had a penalty saved.

That was the striker's fourth spot-kick miss in a row and he has gone 32 games since he last netted for West Brom in February 2016.

Asked whether Berahino would take Stoke's next penalty, Hughes replied: "I don't think Shaq [Shaqiri] will allow him to have it again!

"He [Berahino] had earned the penalty, felt in a good place and wanted the opportunity to take it. I think Shaq acknowledged that and allowed him to do that. It is a shame he didn't score but it is water under the bridge now.

"We have to look at his record. In recent times he hasn't converted too many of them so we'd probably have a conversation about it. I'd expect him to look over to the bench to see if he could take it.''


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