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Pep Guardiola claims he was offered the chance to sign Paul Pogba in January

Manchester City’s manager chose an interesting time to hot back at Mino Raiola.

Manchester City Training and Press Conference Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has responded to weeks-old comments from football super-agent Mino Raiola today in spectacular fashion. Raiola, for not the first time, mouthed off on Guardiola recently calling him “a cowardly dog,” and saying of the City manager: “As a trainer Guardiola is fantastic, as a man he is a zero.” Guardiola, either spiky after City’s humbling mid-week loss or looking for a convenient distraction at a time when his tactics in Europe have been called into question, struck back in Friday’s press conference.

“I don’t understand why I am a so bad guy. I never speak with him so his opinion [about me], I don’t know. But being a guy who two months ago offered me Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us. Why?

“Why he offer? He was interested in Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us? So he has to protect his players and has to know he cannot bring the players to a guy like me, like a dog.”

Oooh, spicy! In hitting back at Raiola’s criticism of him, Guardiola made the claim that he was offered the chance to sign two of Raiola’s clients - Paul Pogba and (the since Arsenal-departed) Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Even if Guardiola is just defending himself against one of the most outspoken agents in the game, Jose Mourinho is not likely to look kindly on an opposing manager talking about one of his players - his most high profile player, at that - ahead of a major derby.

For his part, Pogba shared a dismissive message on social media, likely in response to the bombshell claim. Raiola himself denies speaking to Guardiola, but did not exactly deny offering Pogba to City.

Manchester United would obviously never sanction Pogba’s sale to their hated rivals, but the fact that Raiola was sounding out potential suitors for Pogba halfway through his second season is a worrying sign. Raiola has a history of getting his clients big contracts and signing on fees, but more often than not that has also meant frequent changes in employment.

One to keep an eye on, we suspect.