Pep Guardiola has not ruled out the possibility of Manchester City signing Kylian Mbappe this summer, insisting that "anything can happen" as the Premier League title contenders lock horns with Real Madrid in the race to land the AS Monaco sensation.
Los Blancos were believed to have beaten a host of clubs including City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain to the signing of Mbappe, with Marca reporting on Tuesday (25 July) that they had reached an agreement in principle over a world-record transfer worth a total of €180m (£160.5m, $209.5m) and hoped to wrap up negotiations over the coming days.
However, the long-running saga took a fresh twist overnight with the Manchester Evening News claiming that City, stepping up their interest, had formally opened negotiations with Monaco and were willing to pay £143m.
It was suggested that the club hoped to jump ahead of rivals Real, who they believe may yet need to sell another high-profile player - potentially long-term Manchester United target Gareth Bale - in order to finance such a lucrative deal.
Mbappe emerged as one of the best and most coveted young players in world football in 2016-17 after scoring 26 goals in 44 appearances across all competitions to help Monaco claim their first Ligue 1 title for 17 years and also reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.
When asked about Mbappe during a press conference held in Los Angeles before City's International Champions Cup clash with Real at the LA Coliseum on Wednesday (26 July), Guardiola said: "The player is still at Monaco. "Anything can happen. We are still looking at a lot of other players, but he is still on that team. We have the two exceptional forwards in Gabriel [Jesus] and Sergio [Aguero]. We will see. The market finishes on 31 August, which is not good for the managers.
"The [Premier League] starts on the 12 August and the market is still open. That is not good for all the clubs. We will see until the end of the transfer window."
City have invested heavily in their playing personnel since being taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group back in 2008 and have already spent in excess of £200m this summer on the additions of Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy. Guardiola was eager to stress that Real Madrid are not superior in that regard.
"Madrid doesn't have more than Manchester City have," he said. "There's a lot of teams that are playing in the Champions League that are in the Premier League. Players are very important and we always try to get the best players possible.
"Abu Dhabi came in and invested in the team. Over the past five or six years we climbed to the top and we're now in the top three or four. In order to get to the level of Madrid or Barcelona we just need time."