Guardiola had not heard of Stefan Ortega before Manchester City move

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Stefan Ortega;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Stefan Ortega</a> made vital saves against Tottenham.</span><span>Photograph: Rob Newell/CameraSport/Getty Images</span>

Pep Guardiola admits he had no knowledge of Stefan Ortega before Manchester City signed the goalkeeper who has been influential in their push for an historic fourth straight Premier League title.

Ortega will start for City, who are two points clear of Arsenal, on Sunday against West Ham, with a win guaranteeing the championship once more. The German replaces Ederson after the first-choice keeper suffered a fractured eye socket in the midweek win over Tottenham, where Ortega came on to make a vital save from Son Heung-min to prevent the hosts equalising.

Guardiola had not heard of Ortega before his free transfer from Arminia Bielefeld in 2022: “No. It’s the keepers’ department.”

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The goalkeeper coach, Xabi Mancisidor, is the man Guardiola has to thank for spotting Ortega despite his team being relegated in his final Bundesliga season. “In the past, we sat down and he introduced two or three keepers and he [Mancisidor] said: ‘I think this is the man,’ so I said: ‘Let’s go.’ I am not an expert in goalkeepers, that’s why we have a trainer for that and, as always, Xabi had a good eye and he’s done really well.”

Ortega has been required to step in frequently, featuring eight times. We cannot define a period without Eddy, it is impossible, but of course it was a strange season for Eddy, four times he came back and four times injured,” Guardiola said. “A keeper injured four times with incredible knocks? I have never seen that.

“Today we have to have two proper good keepers. Everyone knows Ederson is the first keeper but the distance [in quality] is small because you need it, there are a lot of games, injuries happen and you need a good second keeper. You have four central defenders who are top-class, you have to have two or three very good keepers, otherwise when the distance is too big, the team cannot compete.”

City have the opportunity to win the Double, with a trip to Wembley to face Manchester United in the FA Cup final next Saturday. Winning the next two matches would earn Guardiola his 17th and 18th major trophies since arriving in England eight years ago, leaving some to question if he has the hunger to continue. “I have a contract, I want to be here next season,” Guardiola said.

Kevin De Bruyne is one of six City players aiming to collect a sixth Premier League winner’s medal on Sunday. “When you have that taste of success it’s something you want to experience over and over again,” the Belgian said. “That’s what drives us every day to be the best and to work so hard to fight for trophies every season. We know how much it means to our fans and that’s something that pushes us.”