Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has dismissed signing another defender in January

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola speaks during a press conference at Manchester City Football Academy on December 02, 2019 in Manchester, England
Pep Guardiola's side have fallen well behind league leaders Liverpool Credit: Getty Images

Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, has dismissed signing another defender in January - and rejected the notion of a major rebuild next summer.

He will instead maintain his faith in Fernandinho at centre back and await the return of Aymeric Laporte after his knee injury during the transfer window.

City have been linked with Leicester City’s Turkey international Caglar Soyuncu as they look to resolve problems in a rearguard shorn of captain Vincent Kompany, following a second successive Premier League title success, and then Laporte in August.

They are now without a clean sheet in seven games - a run deemed “not good enough” by Guardiola - as they head to Burnley on Tuesday, desperate for victory to cut Liverpool’s 11-point lead at the top.

But he said City’s transfer strategy has not changed. “No. Nope. I don’t want any players in January,” said Guardiola.

“If we cannot do it in summer, we cannot do in January. When they come for an incredible opportunity in January for the next four, five, six years, maybe we could think about it, but that is not possible.

“Normally the players we could think it would be interesting to add something for our squad, they are not going to sell it.

“We could not sign a centre-back [in the summer]. Nico [Otamendi] continued and we decided to adapt Fernandinho in this position and that’s all.

“Sometimes the club wants to try to do their best, but we cannot. We have to adapt and adjust with the players that we have and next season we will see.

“We don’t have to rebuild too much. Rebuilding the team is seven or eight players, which we did in the second season when seven finished their contract because 11 players were over 30. Buy two or three players is not rebuild, it’s just substituting positions.”

Even though Otamendi and John Stones are available and may offer more of a physical and aerial presence to combat the Burnley forward pairing of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, Guardiola has retained a preference for the Brazil midfielder Fernandinho at centre back.

“Right now, yes,” he added. “Because I like ‘Dinho playing in that position a lot. That is why he plays.

“Fernandinho is not the reason why we win or lose. When we beat Chelsea everyone said how fantastic Fernandinho was.

“When we don’t win it’s because of Fernandinho. It will be my decision. I like him in that position because of the build up for the fast, for the long balls, many things.”

Fernandinho vies with Newcastle United's Brazilian striker Joelinton Credit: AFP

Guardiola also believes he has an “extraordinary, incredible” group that is coping without the leadership and defensive qualities of Vincent Kompany, who left for Anderlecht.

The loss of Sergio Aguero, the matchwinner in this corresponding fixture last season, with a thigh injury will be felt at Turf Moor and on Saturday when City host neighbours Manchester United.

Guardiola added: “He is not ready for the derby, but after the derby we will see.”

City’s fortunes this week could go a long way to shaping their bid for a third successive title.

But Stones, the England defender, believes the pressure will be on Liverpool.

“It’s very difficult to be out in front and you can sometimes be complacent and not do things you should do, that’s when you can slip up,” he added. “We put a healthy pressure on our shoulders to say we can achieve this, and we can claw back points and close the gap. We’re still the champions and we should have that healthy arrogance about it.”