Pep Guardiola has assured Manchester City fans Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompnay WILL stay at the Etihad next season.
But as City trailed home 15 points behind champions Chelsea, he warned it would be “decades” before they catch up with Real Madrid and Barcelona as superpowers in European football.
Aguero scored twice, to finish his most prolific season at City with 33 goals, in the 5-0 romp at Vicarage Road which sealed third place and sent Guardiola straight into the main Champions League draw in August.
And 24 hours after Real sealed a £38 million deal for 16-year-old Brazilian boy wonder Vinicius Jr, the City boss tempered the news about top scorer Aguero and skipper Kompany staying.
Guardiola said: “They will be at Man City next season. They improved a lot, Vincent playing eight or nine games in a row and we saw something special with him, so I can imagine when City won the league, one of the major reasons was Vincent.
“But we finished 15 points behind Chelsea. Sergio helped us a lot, now we have to find him a better solution and not just depend on Sergio to score goals.
“We are satisfied because we are in the Champions League, and tomorrow we will think about what we need to do next season, when the pressure will be the same.
“Next season we will be better, and as a coach I am better than the year before, but it is not simple.
“Real Madrid have just bought one player 16 years old for 46 million euros, so you can imagine the market.
“To compete with Barca and Real we need time, we need decades to be there. Money is not enough – when Real and Barca want a player, other teams cannot compete.
“Before we were never in the Champions League and now we have been there six or seven times in a row. But to achieve the next step, although the gap is shorter, it is more difficult.
“To close the gap you need time, and in our world time doesn’t exist, it’s not allowed.”
Guardiola is more optimistic about catching Chelsea and Tottenham, the two clubs who finished above them on the home front, in 2017-18, adding: “We were not good enough but we want to play better to reduce that gap next season and fight to the end.
“Not work, not tackle, but play better. This year it was how I expected – big teams, I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
“Knowing Chelsea are playing only one game a week, how strong they are. Tottenham were second and they played some of the best football in the world.
“The gap is like this, but we will be better next season.”