Raheem Sterling 'going nowhere'; Fernandinho opens new contract talks
MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola insists Raheem Sterling won't be leaving in the January transfer window despite speculation that Arsenal are set to reignite their interest in the England international.
The Gunners asked about Sterling in the summer as part of a swap deal that would see Manchester City sign Chile forward Alexis Sanchez but Guardiola said there was "zero chance" of him leaving.
City will consider making a new move for Sanchez in January but Guardiola again dismissed rumours that Sterling, who scored for a fourth consecutive Premier League game in Saturday's 5-0 win over Crystal Palace, will be allowed to leave.
"Raz [Raheem] is staying here," Guardiola told a news conference. "The club trust him, that is why we have invested a lot of money in him, so the players we have are going to stay. "If they want to leave they are going to leave, but he wants to stay. If players want to leave they have to ask the chairman, but there is no chance of that. He is going nowhere."
Guardiola is trying to build plenty of competition for places and Sterling is not the only player in a rich vein of goal scoring form. Sergio Aguero has six goals in his last four games, while Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane have both netted five goals in their last five appearances.
Behind them Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Bernardo Silva have all been in fine form and Guardiola says the players know that if their performance level drops, then they will be out of the side.
"They know it and they feel it. They know the players alongside them are all playing well, that is the best way," he said. "You are not going to have every player playing three games in a row for 11 months, so we need that [competition]. If the next guy is playing good, they have to play good. They have to keep winning. That's how you get the best performances.
"We need [Ilkay] Gundogan back to put pressure on De Bruyne and David [Silva]. Danilo, the way he played at left-back was outstanding, how aggressive he was in defence and attack. Everybody has to push the other ones."
The club's recent results have pleased Guardiola but he is still not satisfied, as evidenced in the visible signs of frustration he showed during a scoreless opening 44 minutes of Saturday's thumping of Palace. He insists his players must keep gunning for goals.
Guardiola said: "It is the best way to respect the opponent and the fans, everything. We play to do it as much as possible.
"People expected before we arrived [on Saturday] it would be easy, but you know how complicated it was in the first half.
"It's good but the way we play we can improve in many, many things and concepts.''
Meanwhile Fernandinho is hoping to secure a new deal at Manchester City after opening talks with the club.
Fernandinho is out of contract at the end of season and could leave on a free transfer in the summer. But the 32-year-old, who has started all of City's six Premier League games this season including the 5-0 win over Palace, wants to stay at the Etihad Stadium.
"We're talking, we'll see what happens," he told reporters. Asked if he wants to stay, the Brazilian said: "Always," and added that the club is continuing to make progress under Guardiola.
"We've changed since last year," he said. "Then we created so many chances to score goals but didn't score. Now we are creating so many -- and this year we are scoring them. I'm not the specialist to talk about that but I'm so happy that we are scoring them."
City moved clear top of the Premier League on goal difference at the weekend but return to Champions League action against Fernandinho's former team Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday. Both sides won their opening Group F fixtures and Fernandinho says they cannot take the Ukrainian champions lightly.
"The next game is my former team. I am so glad to play against them," he said. "I had great times over there -- with my teammates and the fans. It will be nice to see them all again.
"We all know they play attacking football -- there's a lot of Brazilian players in their squad. Every year they fight for the title over there and in the Champions League they try to play in the same way they play in their domestic league.
"We have to be prepared for that because they are a dangerous team. They're full of good players. They like to play technical football -- so it will be a great game on Tuesday. "
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.