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New Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says the club may be priced out of the market for English players.
Premier League clubs are allowed a maximum of 25 players in their squad, of which eight must be 'home-grown' and have come through an English academy.
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola says the rule in practice mean that Premier League clubs must pay a premium to buy English players.
City, who have signed German international Ilkay Gundogan, Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Zinchenko and Spanish forward Nolito so far this summer, are thought to be keen on buying Everton defender John Stones but may be put off by the Toffees' £45m asking price for the 22-year-old.
"We’ve seen with Raheem Sterling [who cost City £49m from Liverpool last year]," he said.
"Sterling is a young guy. You cannot expect you won’t pay a lot of money with a market like this for English players.
"You go for English players and they ask you for £20m more than a Spanish player or German player or Italian player.
"You have to deal with it to try and find what you need."
Guardiola, who has already spoken with Sterling by telephone, says the 21-year-old has the ability to become a major player at the Etihad Stadium.
"The problem is recovering confidence when a player has no quality, that is a big problem," the Spaniard said.
"Then I cannot help him. But Sterling has the quality. He just has to focus on his life, his profession and I’m pretty sure he will play good."
Guardiola, who conducted his first press conference as City manager on Friday, also played down speculation that he was looking to replace Joe Hart with a goalkeeper with better distribution skills.
Asked if the 29-year-old would still be his first choice, Guardiola said: "At the moment, there's no doubt about that. He's number one."