Belfast Telegraph

Man City move for Barcelona's Claudio Bravo as Pep Guardiola hails his boys' fast start

By Robert Jones

Barcelona have revealed they have "the beginning of an agreement with Manchester City for Claudio Bravo".

City manager Pep Guardiola, who coached Barcelona from 2008-2012, has reportedly been on the lookout for a new goalkeeper, having started the first two Premier League games of his reign with Willy Caballero between the posts ahead of England international Joe Hart.

Barca's other goalkeeper, Marc-Andre ter-Stegen, has also been linked with a switch to the Etihad Stadium.

Chile international Bravo (33), was twice beaten by Real Betis in the Catalan club's 6-2 LaLiga victory at the Nou Camp on Saturday evening, and, speaking afterwards, technical secretary Robert Fernandez - quoted on Barcelona's official Twitter account - said: "We have the beginning of an agreement with Manchester City for Claudio Bravo.

"We are awaiting events this week. When Claudio leaves, we hope to have a new keeper".

Guardiola, meanwhile, admits he has been surprised how quickly City's players have adopted his methods after a 4-1 victory over Stoke continued the Spaniard's 100 per cent start.

After last Saturday's 2-1 win over Sunderland, City have scored nine times in their past two games, with Sergio Aguero and substitute Nolito both claiming doubles in Staffordshire four days on from their 5-0 rout of Steaua Bucharest.

It was thought that a fixture at the bet365 Stadium would present a big test for the embryonic Guardiola regime following Stoke's 2-0 victory here last year and, after Aguero's first-half double, the Potters hit back through a Bojan Krkic penalty.

However, two late Nolito goals gave Guardiola a third win on the bounce and he anticipates there is even more to come.

"It is impossible to say what is our target or what we can achieve," the Spaniard said. "But in the short time together my players show me how intelligent they are. They are really good players, they have a lot of quality.

"I am a little bit surprised, in the short time, with the level we played here and in Bucharest. We have scored nine goals in two games. It was a nice week for us."

The talking points from the fixture centred around the awarding of two penalties by referee Mike Dean for either side which may have been allowed to slide in previous campaigns.

City benefited in the first half when Ryan Shawcross' grab of Nicolas Otamendi's arm saw Dean put his whistle to his mouth and Raheem Sterling was adjudged to have impeded Shawcross in the second half.

"We have to be really careful," added Guardiola. "I like to defend zonal marking, not man-to-man, just attack the ball. It was a little bit strange but I think Mark Hughes can say the same.

"You will realise the manager of Manchester City is going to speak few, few times about the decisions of the referees. I'm not a guy who likes to complain."

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