Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has pledged to fight to keep the “irreplaceable” Kyle Walker after an approach from Bayern Munich.
Walker’s place in the side became less secure in last season’s treble-winning campaign as a new system was introduced which often involved fielding four centre-backs with one stepping into a midfield role in possession.
He still made 39 appearances but did not start the Champions League final win against Inter Milan and speculation soon began about a potential move to the Bundesliga champions.
Guardiola insists he wants to retain the 33-year-old, whose contract expires next summer, saying: “He’s an incredibly important player for us. He has specific qualities, so difficult to find worldwide. His specific qualities are irreplaceable.
“We want him, yes. In the end, I don’t know what will happen. I know we’re in contact, both clubs, we will fight for him like I’m sure Bayern will do it. I don’t know how it will finish.”
By coincidence the two sides will meet each other in a pre-season friendly in Tokyo on Wednesday.
At a pre-match press conference Guardiola was asked whether Walker would play in the game and he added: “He’s our player. We need to play against Bayern, we need the best players, why should he not play?”
After last season’s success there has been a significant change behind the scenes with Guardiola’s two assistant managers Rodolfo Borrell and Enzo Maresca departing.
Long-term lieutenant Borrell joined MLS side Austin FC as sporting director while Maresca has taken over as manager of relegated Leicester.
“We are looking to have some people to help us but I have enough quality in the (backroom) team and so far it is okay,” said Guardiola.
“I have in mind a few people but I cannot say more.”