Champions Manchester City will begin preparing for the return of the Premier League to Abu Dhabi.
Pep Guardiola and a mix of first-team players and young prospects will touch down in the capital on Monday night and take part in five days of warm-weather training.
It’s a quick return to the nation’s capital for manager Guardiola who signed a new two-year deal while in town for the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
A relaxed Guardiola tried his hand at Yas Marina Circuit as a passenger for Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and also played golf at a charity pro-am alongside Formula 1 driver Lando Norris and longtime friend golfer Tommy Fleetwood.
Superstar Erling Haaland and fellow countryman Riyad Mahrez, whose Norway and Algeria sides missed out on the World Cup in Qatar, will be part of the practice squad.
Pros Scott Carson, Stefan Ortega, Sergio Gomez and Cole Palmer will also be in attendance and among those looking to further impress the manager ahead of the big national departure will be Rico Lewis. The 18-year-old defender has already made three appearances this season and could be in line for more action in the first part of the restart.
Despite their early departures from the World Cup group stage, Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) and Ilkay Gundogan (Germany) will be given time off before returning to training once City return to their quarters General of Manchester.
City will return to action with a League Cup tie against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on December 22, where the two sides are expected to be mixed and considerably under-sized.
The Premier League begins for Guardiola’s men with a short trip to Leeds United on Wednesday, December 28.
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Guardiola admits he has little idea who might be fit, on fire and available for these games and the home game against Everton on December 31 which will close out 2022.
“It’s best not to think about it,” he said. “If we don’t have our international players, then okay let’s bring in the academy – or some physios! “. In Germany, their first match after the World Cup is January 20 – we start on December 22. We will have to wait and see at what stage players leave the tournament, how much they have played and how much rest they need. We will have a lot of games to play in a short time. »
City had sixteen players in Qatar – only Bayern Munich had more – considerably more than title rivals Arsenal (10) and Liverpool (7).
Whichever team he field at Leeds in his Premier League debut, Guardiola and many of his players will be happy to know that his future for the next two seasons is settled and the City boss is certainly not resting. not on its laurels.
“I feel we can still do better,” he said. “That’s why I want to do more – the job is not done. We want more and I want more. »