Pep determined to fend off Barca interest

English Premier League

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has issued a strong response to FC Barcelona amidst their pursuit to lure defender Eric Garcia back to Camp Nou.

The 19-year-old defender has enjoyed a breakout season at the Etihad under Guardiola after taking advantage of the long-term injury of Aymeric Laporte and the loss of form of John Stones at centre-back.

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Having joined City in 2017 from La Masia in a €1.7-million move, his nine Premier League appearances have convinced the Blaugrana that he could be the potential long-term successor to stalwart Gerard Pique.

However, Guardiola has warned his former side that a similar circumstance of Pique returning to Barcelona after a stint in England with Manchester United won't happen easily due to their desire to keep him on board.

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"If they want him they must call [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] and we'll try to convince him to stay here for many years," Guardiola told reporters after their 5-0 thumping of Newcastle United, as per ESPN.

"I'm confident he will stay but it's his decision. He knows we want him but it was the same with Leroy [Sane] and he didn't want to stay. Eric knows, his agent knows and his family knows we want him."

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The teenager has featured five times for the Spain U-21 national team and has been touted for a call-up to the senior squad since his emergence as a ball-playing centre back with the Citizens.

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