The Guardian

Held meetings to say: Kyle, you can’t leave’

Pep Guardiola

Will Unwin

Pep Guardiola has thanked his Manchester City players for convincing Kyle Walker to stay at the club after summer interest from Bayern Munich.

The right-back signed a two-year extension to his City contract this week, tying him to the club until 2026.

In a window that saw Ilkay Gündogan, Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte leave, it was important to maintain Walker’s experience within the squad. The England defender has captained City in recent weeks and is set to have the armband for the trip to West Ham today.

“When Bayern Munich call you it is a big, big, big opportunity, there are no doubts about that,” Guardiola said. “We did our job to try to convince him to stay and the benefits to stay, and I promise you, because it was not just me, the club did too but especially it was his mates. They made a lot of meetings, saying: ‘Kyle you cannot leave,’ and they made him feel how much he is beloved by everyone and in the end he decided to stay.”

Guardiola will return to the dugout at the London Stadium after missing the past two matches while he recovered from back surgery. “He has an incredible heart,” Guardiola said of Walker. “When players are injured he calls – he called me twice. [He] takes care of staff. This counts a lot, people say how good the players are, the reason why we have success is we have quality humans. This is the reason why.”

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