Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero hailed new signing John Stones as a “f***ing player” after he made his debut in the 2-1 victory against Sunderland on Saturday.
Caballero was chosen ahead of traditional City No.1 Joe Hart for the club’s Premier League opener, with coach Pep Guardiola favouring the Argentine’s ability to build up play from the back.
Guardiola also highlighted Stones as a priority target in this summer’s transfer window for his skill in possession, and the young England defender was handed his first start just four days after clinching a £47.5 million move from Everton.
There were a couple of suspect moments for both players in an overall positive display, but Caballero is certain that the team will improve given time – especially if new boy Stones continues to impress.
“This is a very important change,” Caballero said of Guardiola’s demands on playing out from the back. “Sometimes we are taking risks when we pass the ball in our backline and my first pass was really really complicated because they could have scored, but after that we played [much] better from the back and we can start playing as the boss wants, but we need minutes. We need minutes together.
“Two or three players have arrived in the last week. John played today like a f***ing player, he plays as he has has been here from the last three or four years. It’s important to play together. We need games and minutes together to have experience together and to have rhythm and to play more better if we can.”
Guardiola’s decision to select Caballero instead of Hart took many by surprise an hour ahead of kick-off, although it has long been suspected that the Englishman’s place could be under threat.
Claudio Bravo is keen to link up with Guardiola and it is thought that personal terms have already been agreed.
Caballero expected to leave the club earlier this summer, but while City are expected to pursue a new keeper before the end of the transfer window, it could now be Hart who is moved on.
And the Argentine says Guardiola has had plenty of discussions with Hart in the past few weeks.
“I think he spoke with Joe a lot of times, but with me, I just trained every day in the whole of pre-season, and I realised in the last day that I am going to start.”
He insists, however, that the current scenario is difficult for everybody involved: “Yeah, it is. For sure, it’s very tough in this situation for me, for Joe, for the fans, for everything, but I just tried to think and enjoy this opportunity and the most important thing is that we won as well.
“It doesn’t matter who played and when Joe has the opportunity, I think he will enjoy it as well as me.”
Caballero, though, says he has not tried to replicate the success of any of Guardiola’s former goalkeepers in a bid to impress his new manager.
“No, I try to adapt my way to play as he wants,” he added. “Manuel Neuer is the No.1 in the world, Victor Valdes, it doesn’t matter about the other teams. I try to be Willy Caballero, to do my best performance in every single game. I know it is a new style, but I know from myself I can prove I can do it.”