Manchester City to give record goalscorer Sergio Aguero guard of honour before clash with Arsenal
City will also pay tribute to their England under 17 World Cup winners Phil Foden, Curtis Anderson and Joel Latibeaudier
Manchester City will form a guard of honour for record goalscorer Sergio Aguero against Arsenal – and their three members of England’s triumphant Under-17 World Cup side.
Aguero became City’s all-time leading scorer in midweek, his strike in the 4-2 Champions League win away to Napoli taking him clear of Eric Brook on 178 goals for the Blues.
And to pay tribute to the 29-year-old’s record-breaking feat, City have invited their leading goalscorers from seasons past to form a guard on honour for him ahead of tomorrow’s game against Arsenal.
City greats including Colin Bell, Dennis Tueart, Shaun Goater and Paul Dickov will be among those lining up on the pitch to pay tribute to Aguero at the Etihad Stadium before kick-off.
Supporters are urged to take their seats early for the pre-match ceremony, which will also see City’s members of England’s Under-17 World Cup-winning squad honoured for their recent triumph in India.
Midfielder Phil Foden, who scored twice in the final and was voted player of the tournament, goalkeeper Curtis Anderson and skipper Joel Latibeaudiere will also be paraded to City fans to mark their historic feat.
City boss Pep Guardiola said Aguero deserves to be saluted for becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer and said it was only a matter of time before he claimed the record outright.
“It wasn’t relief,” said Guardiola. “I said many times that sooner or later he was going to break it, when he had one or two goals left to get the record.
“He was focused on winning the game, he was focused on doing what we have to do for him, for his team-mates and the club.
“It’s good news for him. It’s a big achievement and he has to be so proud of what he’s done, his family, too.”
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Jamie Redknapp went into the Sky Sports Match Zone to interview the Premier League's hottest player
Kevin De Bruyne.
Jamie Redknapp: Kevin, you look like you're really enjoying your football at the moment?
Kevin De Bruyne: Yes. Since Pep came to the club he plays a style of football that I like so it makes it easier — but this is a style the whole team likes. If everyone buys into a system it's easier to get a team playing like we are. There's a lot of hard work we have to do and there's a lot of trust we have to have in each other to work with this system.
Redknapp: It seems Pep is building a brand of football that is heavily possession-based?
De Bruyne: Yes, but it's possession with a meaning. He hates the word 'possession' where you just play it at the back with a goalkeeper. There is always a passing game to get me and David (Silva) into positions where we can create an attack. Then we need to go forward and be decisive. Pep does not like it where you just pass it to pass it. Only at the end to kill games off. For the rest, there is really something behind it.
Redknapp: Your goal against Chelsea in September summed up what you are saying. You don't look like you're interested, then the ball comes and it's 'bang'.
De Bruyne: Everybody is in place. That is the trust. Everyone needs to be in position to create the openings we have. We like to play a lot where you pass the ball forward and it comes back because it makes it easier for us to attack because the midfielders have to turn round.
Redknapp: You watch City now, with two very wide players and midfield maestros, and it seems reminiscent of Pep's Barcelona. Is that something he is trying to get you to work on?
De Bruyne: Yes, but it changes every game. For the Chelsea game he said to Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling: 'You stay wide until we get the ball in the final third. Then you can do whatever you want.
'In the beginning you need to try to get (Cesar) Azpilicueta and (Marcos) Alonso as deep as possible so we get a man advantage.' It depends every time how the other team sets up and that game it was important they stayed wide.
Redknapp: How important was the goal against Chelsea? Did it have extra meaning because it was your old club?
De Bruyne: Not really. There was a lot of passion in the celebration because it was an important moment for us as a team. Last season we had some big games where we did well but we didn't get any points and this was a very important moment.
We had a feeling like 'now we go on and we're going to win the game'. Also after the Liverpool game (City's 5-0 win at the Etihad on September 9).
It is like a sign to everybody else that we are ready to play a role this year, especially in the big games. We are going to win these important matches.
Redknapp: I first watched you as a teenager with Genk, playing wide left. Did you play as a No 10 as a kid or out wide?
De Bruyne: Mostly as a No 10. When I was really young I played as a striker but I grew a lot when I was 15 or 16.
I had a big (growth spurt), became a bit slower, but I always had a feeling when I was younger it was going to be No 10 or where I am now.
Redknapp: Where is your favourite position?
De Bruyne: Where I am now. These deeper areas, middle of the pitch and to the left. At Genk they asked, 'what position are you thinking?' and I gave three options — on the left in a 4-4-2, at No 10 but I said I think where I'm playing now, this is going to be my best position. I always said the older I get the more I will go backwards and it's true.
Redknapp: That 7-2 win against Stoke last month and in particular the second goal. Is that what you really enjoy, getting the ball off the back four and going forward?
De Bruyne: Yes, it's the main thing that changed. Before I would wait deeper. Now I'm more creating. Fernandinho takes my place and I take his. You swap, but everybody has to be in position again.
Redknapp: It suits you?
De Bruyne: It's just flowing. You see there are a lot of one-two touches. It creates a flow to the way we're playing and everybody's moving gradually. But in the box you can do whatever you want. He (Guardiola) just likes you to finish, shoot or create something.
Redknapp: You've had 24 assists in the Premier League since August 2016. Christian Eriksen is next but he is only on 17 in that time. That must bring you enjoyment?
De Bruyne: A lot of enjoyment because it means you are doing good things. I always like to assist more than scoring.
De Bruyne: Yes! It gives me another feeling. When you score it's a great feeling but to give a great pass means it's something special for me. It's very under-rated what we do. We cannot have these assists if they don't score the goals, but…
What struck me most about my time in the Match Zone with Kevin De Bruyne was his unselfish attitude to football. He is more interested in making goals for the team than scoring them himself.
De Bruyne is a lovely guy. He is intelligent, articulate and very thoughtful about his football. He is eager to share the ball and we could show how he is prepared to take risks in the final third to create chances for this free-scoring Manchester City side.
In the Match Zone, Sky Sports can provide real in-depth analysis into a player's goals, movement and skills. The touch screen means they can get involved in the analysis and for this interview, De Bruyne was able to demonstrate how his position has evolved over his three seasons at the Etihad.
We can take the studio into stadiums and training grounds around the country and I have now interviewed both De Bruyne and Christian Eriksen in the Match Zone. By doing these interviews, we hope youngsters can get great insight into how these players get to the top of their game.
If I were playing now, I would want to appear in our Match Zone to showcase my talents.
Redknapp: Should more credit be given to assists?
De Bruyne: It depends what assist. Sometimes you just square the ball and somebody else shoots, but some assists are so nice and the passing is very important. We creators have a thing with the attackers. If they don't score you think: 'Uh! I did such a great job and you're messing it up.' If we give a bad pass they're going to say: 'What are you doing?'
Redknapp: Have you a picture in your mind before you pass?
De Bruyne: Before I get the ball I try to look up, even if my head is not moving, to see what's happening in front. If I think there's a chance of playing somebody through I will do it.
I think I'm sometimes very direct, sometimes too direct, but I know what's happening before because that's the way we set up. I try to see if they are running and then I trust the team-mates to go. If they don't go it's going to look like a silly pass but if everybody is on it then it looks very, very good.
I'm a big basketball fan. Some players like to play on physicality but I'm a big LeBron (James) fan. He can do whatever he wants but he always tries to make the best play for the team. That's what I like to do. Sometimes it feels like I just want to go for assists but it's about what makes the best play at for the team to score a goal.
Redknapp: There's no Englishman in that top five players with most assists — Cesc Fabregas, Gylfi Sigurdsson and David Silva complete the list. I heard a rumour you could have played for England?
De Bruyne: No. My mother was born in Africa. When she was seven she moved with my grandfather to Ealing, where she went to school.
Redknapp: We tried, Gareth!
De Bruyne: (Laughs) I'm still fully Belgian.
Redknapp: You scored seven goals in all competitions last season and have scored two this year. Do you want to get more goals?
De Bruyne: I try to get more goals, but I'm not particularly looking at that. In my first season at City I scored 16 and I had never done that before. Now it's more difficult. Last season I had a lot that I missed — all the posts and crossbars I hit were from long-range. Then it's more like luck. It happens. I try to chip in, but I also know the amount of goals we're scoring, I don't really care.
Redknapp: How far can this City team go?
De Bruyne: I like it here. It's the perfect environment. From the moment I came there's always been a lot of trust in me. I like the project they are doing. When I came here there was an older team but there have been a lot of transfers, a lot of young players coming in, they're building for the future. I'm really happy and I see myself being here for a long time.
Redknapp: How important has David Silva been?
De Bruyne: He is very under-rated. It's insane how not a lot of people are really talking about him. He plays for Spain more than 100 times. He's won everything he needs to win and gives me the perfect balance.
I learn a lot from him about retaining the ball. When I came here I was more a high-risk player, creating opportunities, taking risks but also losing the ball. Now there's a lot of things I learnt about him. When I came here my pass ratio was more like 70 per cent because I know I take risks.
Redknapp: You still take risks?
De Bruyne: I don't want to lose that. I know I'm like a little puzzle that fits in. Others in the midfield are such good retainers. I'm more like a player who can give a ball in one second and create an opportunity. If it doesn't work it doesn't work but if the ball is high up the pitch I know the team is behind me. I don't want to lose my cutting edge, which makes me important for the team.
Redknapp: You (294) and David Silva (313), the two maestros, are top in the League this season in terms of successful passes in the final third. Guardiola can't have you on the same side in five-a-side because nobody will get the ball!
De Bruyne: We don't play a lot of five-a-side. We always play 'boxes'. It's strange to see a manager be so busy with boxes. I mean 5 v 2 or 6 v 2. For him, that's like being the master of football. If you can do that well you can play well in a game because it's small-based. Normally you just do that when you're warming up. We are not allowed to do backheels or whatever, it's simple passes and he wants the guys in the middle to run. He loves it. It's something that, for him, is very important to put in our game.
Redknapp: In 2015-16 you made 29 forward passes per game. In 2016-17 it was 33 and this season it is 46. A huge difference. It must bring you a lot of enjoyment?
De Bruyne: Yes, but it also shows I'm playing a bit (deeper) because there are more options to play it forward. It also depends on the system we play.
Everybody has to be in position but you can swap. It's about keeping possession and stopping counter-attacks. We know the wingers are the most important.
Redknapp: It's a big game against Arsenal. Looking forward to it?
De Bruyne: Very important. We've got Arsenal, and Manchester United have Chelsea so, if we win, it means somebody else is going to lose points. It's an advantage. It's handy to have more points and put pressure on others.
Redknapp: It's a joy to watch you week-in, week-out, and thank you for your time.
De Bruyne: Thank you.
Sterling rises in Guardiola's esteem
Raheem Sterling has been told that improving his goalscoring record is the key to securing his long-term Manchester City future.
Sterling could have moved to Arsenal in August as City tried to secure the £60million ($78million) signing of Alexis Sanchez, but both deals ended up falling through.
The England winger declared last month he never considered the prospect of moving to Arsenal, and he was determined to make himself a success in Manchester.
Manager Pep Guardiola has made clear Sterling needs to be a regular goalscorer in order to thrive at City.
The message appears to have got through as Sterling is now on course for the best goalscoring season of his career, with the help of City coach Mikel Arteta, a former Arsenal captain.
"I think Raheem is enjoying scoring goals," said Guardiola as his team prepared for Sundays home game against Arsenal.
"He's not scared, he's not afraid to take a risk.
"And now he's seeing how fun, how good it is to score goals. Now he's more focused on that.
"Mikel Arteta is working many, many hours and days after training specifically about the last action on the pitch - that control in the last moment to make the right movement in the final three or four metres.
"Raheem has wanted to stay there on the training pitch, to improve, to practise, to shoot at the goalkeepers."
Goalscoring used to be a problem for Sterling - who often looked nervy when chances came his way, particularly in his early career.
He has never scored more than 11 goals in a season, but has 10 already this term, having hit four in his past five matches.
Guardiola added: I think its mainly because hes decided: I want to score goals. I can do that and Im enjoying that.
His final pass still has to improve he has to do it better. He has got better but he can still do better."
Meanwhile, Guardiola has called for a referendum to resolve the Catalonia independence crisis after describing the jailing of eight politicians as 'scary'.
A Spanish judge sent eight members of the sacked Catalan government to prison on Thursday pending possible charges over last week's declaration of independence.
It follows the decision by the same judge, Carmen Lamela, to imprison two pro-independence leaders for alleged sedition in the run-up to a non-binding public independence referendum on October 1, which was held despite being declared illegal by the courts.
Spain's central government suspended Catalonias autonomy, and called snap elections in the area for December 21, after its regional parliament voted in favour of independence last Friday.
Former Barcelona player and manager Guardiola, who voted in last month's referendum by post, is known as a proud Catalan.
"I wish the 11 politicians that they have put in prison are released soon," he said.
"Im a little bit worried, because what happened to them could happen to us for giving an opinion.
"If it could happen to them, then it could happen to anyone, even to people who don?t think it could happen to them.
"The two persons leading the Catalan organisation were put in prison for asking to vote in a legal referendum.
"I think that the Spanish government and the Catalan government should sit and talk and try to agree a referendum. Until then, its a really difficult situation to be solved.
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Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I cannot accept, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill today because they totally pissed me off
Arsenal rejected Manchester City star David Silva back in 2005
... because of fears over his physicality
Arsenal turned down the chance to sign David Silva in 2005 because they believed he couldn't cope with the physical demands of the Premier League.
The Manchester City playmaker is set to start against the Gunners in Sunday's Premier League showdown - but if history panned out differently the Spaniard could have been lining up for Arsene Wenger's side.
Silva, during his loan spell at Eibar in 2004, was watched extensively by Arsenal's Spanish-based scouting department - led by head of overseas recruitment Francis Cagagio.
Cagagio was responsible for identifying the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin.
Eventually the club decided against pursuing a move for Silva - who was 19 at the time - feeling he didn't possess the physical attributes to be a success in the English top flight.
At the time Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas, Jose Antonio Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg were all vying for attacking midfield roles for Wenger's men.
Instead of joining Arsenal, Silva left Valencia for another loan spell - this time at Celta Vigo - where his performances persuaded his parent club to make him a first-team regular the following season.
Silva eventually joined City in 2010 for £26million and has gone on to become one of English football's best foreign imports, helping the club to two titles, one FA Cup and two League Cups.
Arsenal scouts watched Silva when he was on loan at Eibar from Valencia in 2004
It’s that time again. The Premier League have now issued the finalists for their monthly awards, and Manchester City feature heavily.
Player: DE BRUYNE, SANE - https://potm.easports.com/
Manager: PEP - https://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/barc ... ct-dup-dup
Goal: FERNADINHO, STERLING, SANE (all v Stoke) - https://carlingtap.carling.com/goal-of- ... th/2017-10
If you head to the http://www.premierleague.com/stats/awards website you can vote on all three sections. Manager of the Month, Player of the month and Goal of the month. I just think I should mention now that not a single Manchester United name appears in any of the lists.
The deadline for voting is Monday and so, with City not playing until Sunday, spend your Saturday retweeting your friends. Encourage them to vote, share the links and also, if you are so inclined, remind the United fans on your social media sides to vote for their players!
Juventus alerted as Man City prepare bid for unhappy Liverpool star
Juventus will face stiff competition from Pep Guardiola's Manchester City over Liverpool's German international midfielder Emre Can, Calciomercato.com can reveal.
The current Premier League leaders are preparing an offer to the player that will supercede Juventus contract offer of €4,5 million net per season plus bonuses as well as promising the player an integral role in the squad. This óffer will change things, especially from February when Emre Can is free to negotiate with whomever he wants to given that his contract with Liverpool is set to expire at the end of this coming June.
Despite Manchester City's strong interest, Juventus will not change their strategy in order to sign the player. Unless Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp changes his mind and allows a transfer to be made in January, the Bianconeri will wait until his contract expires and sign him on a free transfer. The reigning Serie A champions are open to raising their contract offer which they presented to the players entourage this past summer. However, with Europe's biggest and richest clubs on high alert, Juventus could be outspent if the Bianconeri's offer to the player is doubled, something that can easily happen.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola fails to rule out a renewed attempt to sign Alexis Sanchez as his side prepare to face Arsenal in the Premier League
Pep Guardiola has left the door open for a renewed attempt to sign Alexis Sanchez after a £60million deal for the Arsenal star collapsed on deadline day.
The two clubs agreed terms in August only for Arsenal to pull the plug when they failed to sign Monaco's Thomas Lemar as a replacement.
Sanchez, who faces City at the Etihad on Sunday, will be a free agent in the summer but a January move to Pep Guardiola's side is not out of the question.
Although Guardiola was reluctant to discuss the Chile international so close to the match, he admitted that he will continue to improve his squad where possible.
'The strikers we have are going to stay next season, hopefully,' he said. 'Add another player? Maybe. We are going to decide that.
'So I think next season we have to shake the team again a little. Not in terms like this season, where it was a lot because the average age was 28 or 29, now we are a young team.
'But we'll buy players. We'll try to analyse well and buy the right players like we did last season and this season.
'You know my opinion on the players I have. Alexis, you know my opinion but he's an Arsenal player so it's not correct to talk about that, especially before we play them.
'The transfer window is closed, so it's not time to talk about that. . I have respect for Arsenal and especially for my own players.
'He (Sanchez) is an Arsenal player, his manager has to speak about him. You know the situation before when the transfer window was open, but now it's closed. Let's not talk about that.
'He is such an important player for them, for the talent he has, and we have to try to control him. Let's just focus on that.'
Guardiola was more comfortable talking about Sanchez's teammate Mesut Ozil, who has come in for criticism in some quarters.
The Spaniard faced the former Real Madrid star during his time in charge at Barcelona, and accepts that sometimes Ozil's demeanour on the pitch encourages his critics.
'I don't have doubts about him first in terms of quality,' he said. 'I enjoy him and have suffered from him at Madrid and here.
'Always he gets criticised when the team loses, a big target when they lose. But I admire him.
'Maybe his body language doesn't help him but sometimes that confuses opinion. I accept your opinions but all players know how tough it is to work out there.
'I don't have doubts. It's good for the Premier League to have players of this talent, but hopefully on Sunday he can play a bad game.'
Raheem Sterling was the City player linked with Arsenal if Guardiola had been successful in signing Sanchez, but the England winger has taken his game to a new level this season. Sterling's strike in the 4-2 win at Napoli in midweek was his 10th goal of the season.
'I think he's enjoying scoring goals,' added Guardiola. 'He's not scared. He's not afraid to take a risk. And now he's seeing how fun, how good it is to score goals. Now he's more focussed on that.
'Mikel Arteta (first-team coach) is working many, many hours and days after training specifically about the last action on the pitch – that control in the last moment to make the right movement in the final three or four metres.
'For himself, Raheem has wanted to stay there, to improve, to practise, to shoot at the goalkeepers. It's part of the mentality he needs. He knows a striker has to score goals and he has to do that if he wants to achieve the next step.
'You won't survive in the high level teams in his position if you don't score goals. Now the confidence is there and the club has new players coming in who can score goals
'His final pass still has to improve. He has to do it better but he can still do better. We can't forget he's 22-years-old. We demand a lot with those kind of players.
'But he is curious and if he will improve he will get it, for sure definitely. He's young and he has time, and we are there to help him.'
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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino: Man City are the best team in Europe
MANCHESTER CITY are the top dogs in Europe, according to Mauricio Pochettino.
Mauricio Pochettino believes Machester City are the most in-form team in Europe
And the Spurs boss reckons Pep Guardiola’s men are really the ones to beat.
The Premier League leaders are unbeaten in 22 games stretching back to last season and have scored a staggering 49 goals already this term.
“They are the best team in Europe today,” said Pochettino.
“Manchester City is doing very well and showing unbelievable performances.
“They are the most in-form team in Europe.”
Despite his glowing verdict, Pochettino still believes his side can make up the eight point gap between them this season.
“There’s a long way to go,” he said
“The challenge is to keep form and be consistent for the whole season.”
Manchester City Yet To Open Contract Talks With The Man In-Charge: Too Late Already?
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are in seriously frightening form. The Citizens are playing the best possible football in Europe at the moment. They are dispatching sides with absolute ease and the fluidity in attack looks unstoppable. The Citizens have scored 44 goals in 13 matches since the market shut and with Aguero returning from a freak injury, it is safe to say that City are yet to hit top gear.
The stylish, fluid attacking football included wins over sides like defending league champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and a 5-0 drubbing of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Amongst the smaller teams, they thrashed Stoke City 7-2 in a match where they could have scored more goals and remain unbeaten in the league. In Europe, they boast a perfect record with 4 wins out of 4 and their latest 4-2 thrashing of Napoli at Naples just went on to show the machine Guardiola is creating at the Etihad.
The team is so heavily armed that the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva have to be content with just playing as substitutes. Although Pep is likely to rotate his squad over the next few weeks again, as he has always been known to be a manager who uses an entire squad to keep players fresh and motivated.
Amongst such joy and class at City, there has been no further talk of Pep extending his current contract, yet. The Spaniard is in the second season of his three-year contract with Manchester City and it is likely that City will want to keep a hold off him unless there is a drastic drop in form.
Pep has assembled a young side with players like Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, John Stones, Benjamin Mendy all having more than 5-6 years of peak football left in them at the least.
It will be tempting for the Spaniard as well to oversee the development of this crop of talented youngsters into world beaters and take on the mantle of the best club in Europe. For Pep to fulfil that wish of his, he would have to extend his stay at Manchester beyond 2019.
It will be interesting to see, when the inevitable does happen of City offering Pep an extension, if he will take up the opportunity or the Spaniard, who has travelled broadly during his managerial tenure, moves on to a new adventure.
Citizens will be keeping their fingers crossed but do you think Guardiola will leave City anytime soon?
WAG OF THE DAY
- Spoiler: Show/Hide
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Real Madrid are ready to compete with Barcelona to sign Liverpool and Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho, 25. (Mundo Deportivo - in Spanish)
Spanish giants Real are also interested in Tottenham's 21-year-old England midfielder Dele Alli. (Marca)
Chelsea and Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas, 30, is set to agree a new contract at Stamford Bridge, ending rumours of a move to Manchester United.(Evening Standard)
Sunderland have contacted ex-Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka over their vacant manager's position. (Sun)
Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah, 25, is proving to be the best Premier League signing of the season, according to the club's former defender Jamie Carragher. (Telegraph)
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has confirmed that Roman Abramovich attended a recent training session amid growing reports the billionaire owner is running out of patience with the Italian. (Metro)
Burnley boss Sean Dyche insists no one at the club is distracted by continued speculation linking him with Everton. (Burnley Express)
Leicester boss Claude Puel says he could sign Paris St-Germain and France midfielder Hatem ben Arfa in January. The 30-year-old played under Puel at Nice in 2015-16. (ESPN, via RMC Radio)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says there is no pressure on Emre Can to sign a new contract, despite the Germany midfielder being linked with a move to Juventus. (Sky Sports)
Newcastle midfielder Jack Colback appears to have no future at the club as manager Rafael Benitez says he is still only allowed to train with the club's under-23 side. (Newcastle Chronicle)
Edinson Cavani's agent has revealed the Paris St-Germain and Uruguay striker, 30, has his heart set on a return to Italian side Napoli. (Sun)
Former Newcastle and Burnley midfielder Joey Barton has suggested Paul Ince's weight is a reason why he does not have a managerial job. (Daily Express)
Tottenham's players will receive a £2m bonus to share between them as a reward for qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League. (Times)
West Brom boss Tony Pulis has responded to criticism from pundits by pointing to their failure as managers. (Express and Star)
Maidenhead full-back Remy Clerima, who will feature for the club against Coventry in the FA Cup first round on Sunday, is also a part-time model. (Sun)
Neymar, Paris St-Germain's world record signing, is "fed up" with manager Unai Emery's methods. (Le Parisien - in French)
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho believes fans of his former club Chelsea still "love" him. (Independent)
Former Everton midfielder Kevin Ratcliffe has called the club's form "frightening" and says he cannot see three worse teams in the Premier League. (Liverpool Echo)
Ousmane Dembele's surgeon says the France winger's hamstring injury may have been caused by pressure on him to succeed following his £135.5m move to Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund. (Mundo Deportivo)
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp believes the club's fans have rallied around out-of-form Croatia defender Dejan Lovren. (Independent)
Barnsley held a treasure hunt around the town centre as they relaunched their website
Real Madrid will make Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino their number one target to replace Zinedine Zidane. (Daily Mail)
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has already decided to sack manager Antonio Conte. (Marca)
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is open to letting left-back Luke Shaw, 22, leave in January, with the pair not on speaking terms. (Sun)
Shaw is keen on a return to former club Southampton, with the south-coast club considering selling defender Ryan Bertrand, 28, to Manchester City. (Daily Mirror)
CENT OF THE DECADE
Always disliked this fella after seeing a clip of him on holiday chanting "n*gger this n*gger that" then two weeks later he goes berserk when Suarez mentions it to him. File under VILE
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ON THIS DAY IN 2014
Fernandinho: The World Cup is history, my focus is on Manchester City
FERNANDINHO has dismissed suggestions he is suffering a hangover from Brazil's World Cup nightmare.
The midfielder has been one of several Manchester City stars yet to recapture last season's form when he played a major part in a Premier League and Capital One Cup double in his debut campaign in England following a £30million move from Ukraine club Shakthar Donestsk.
Compatriot and near-namesake Fernando, a summer arrival from Porto, has increased competition for midfield places and taken his spot in four of the last five games, raising fears Fernandinho is still getting over his country's humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany in July.
But although he admits he was badly hit for a few weeks in the summer by the stunning result - he made the mistake that led to the second goal in Brazil's first-half meltdown - Fernandinho insists it has not had a knock-on effect since he returned to England in August.
"It is in the past already," he said. "I felt very bad for the first month after the World Cup but when I came back to Manchester I just put my head towards the Premier League and Champions League.
"The World Cup is history. Now I just think about City and try to give my best performances and do the same thing as I did last season.
"I am working hard every day we will see what happens in the future. I will try to do my best. Selection is the manager's decision and you have to respect that."
With playmaker David Silva and Frank Lampard both injured, Fernandinho is set to be recalled alongside Fernando for the vital Champions League home clash with CSKA Moscow tonight, allowing Yaya Toure to push forward into Silva's position.
After taking only two points from their first three Group E games, failure to secure victory tonight will mean City's qualification is out of their own hands and they will need wins from their final two games against Bayern Munich (home) and Roma (away) to stand any chance of progress.
Fernandinho added: "This is a very important game for us if we want to continue in the Champions League. If we win this game, it improves our chances of qualifying for the next stage with two games to go. If we play to our best level we can do it."
Toure, however, believes the World Cup is one of the reasons why City have failed to consistently recapture last season's form is because so many of their players did not complete a full pre-season preparation.
But he still believes once City are firing on all cylinders again they have the quality not only to retain their Premier League title but also lift the Champions League for the first time.
Speaking to Nissan, the official automotive sponsor Champions League, as part of his role as the car manufacturer's global ambassador, Toure said: "Last year was a brilliant season because we'd been able to prepare all together from the beginning. For me as a football player the pre-season is very, very important for the players.
"This season is quite difficult at the moment because we had the World Cup, we travelled around in the summer, we did not have a good rest and then we came back again [to our clubs].
"This year has been tough. Also opponents get used to playing against you, they start guarding you very well, they don't let you have space and they don't let you express yourself on the field. They will try to disturb you, to stop you all the time. That's the difficulty of the game and that's why we love it and that's why I love football.
"We know it's difficult to win both competitions. The Premier League is very, very tough and it takes a lot of your energy. In the Champions League you're playing against very clever teams because it's the competition of the champions of Europe. For us, the perfect scenario is to win both, and we'll try to do it."
Aleksandar Kolarov has joined Silva and Lampard on City's injury list. The Serbia left-back will be out for a month after tearing a calf muscle while warming up for the Manchester derby on Sunday.
Manchester United are still debating whether to turn Colombia striker Radamel Falcao's loan move into a permanent deal. The Red Devils could sign the 28-year-old, who has scored one goal in five matches since arriving from Monaco, for £46m in the summer. (Sun - subscription required)
Milner rejects Scholes criticism: No arrogance at Manchester City
The England international dismissed criticism from the Manchester United legend, who suggested the Premier League champions were underestimating their opposition
James Milner has rejected Paul Scholes's assessment that Manchester City's faltering form is down to "arrogance", but admits the players are aware of the need to improve.
The former Manchester United midfielder claimed, ahead of Sunday's derby which City won 1-0, that the Premier League champions were struggling due to underestimating their opposition.
"There is something about them," Scholes said. "You may even call it a touch of arrogance - that they don't have to take their opposition into consideration."
Sunday's 1-0 win was City's first in four games after losses to Newcastle and West Ham, but Milner is confident the squad are better than anyone on their day.
Milner told reporters: "We go out there with a game plan, and if we hit our standards we can beat anyone - we've proved that.
"We've not been at our strongest over the last few weeks, and the players know that. It's down to us to change that, and the derby win will go a long way to changing it.
"We didn't play as well as we can but it was all about the win."
Milner has faith in City's squad and urged critics to assess Manuel Pellegrini & Co. after the upcoming busy festive schedule.
"We can improve performance-wise, but it was all about getting a win and Wednesday is the same. We have to get three points and if we play to our level we will," he added.
"It's a busy period now - we have an international break coming up but then games come thick and fast and Christmas is always a tough time.
"The league table always seems to change dramatically going into December, and again coming out of it.
"So of we can keep getting the results and get one or two boys back from injury, I am sure we can be in a good position going into the end of the season."
I wouldn't join Arsenal for £60m and two Ferraris! - Kompany
Belgian defender rejected a tongue-in-cheek offer on Twitter from Gunners fan Piers Morgan to make the switch to the Emirates Stadium.
Vincent Kompany has insisted he wouldn't consider joining Arsenal even if offered £60m and two Ferrari sports cars.
The City defender received the joke offer from celebrity Gunners fan Piers Morgan on Twitter on Tuesday evening, after Arsene Wenger's side suffered yet another embarrassing collapse.
Arsenal's place in the Champions League knockout stages looked to be sealed as they led Anderlecht 3-0 with half an hour to play at the Emirates Stadium.
But the Belgians capitalised on some poor defending to drag it back to 3-3 thanks to two goals from Anthony Vanden Borre and a 90th-minute header from Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The result prompted former Anderlecht player Kompany to tweet: "OMG Anderlecht!!"
That post caught the attention of Morgan, who went on to make a £50m offer for the defender's services and, when that was rejected, he wrote: "£60m & 2 Ferraris?"
However, his proposition was quickly rejected by the Blues skipper.
Kompany wrote: "Those days have gone Pearsie, I play for glory. "
“@piersmorgan: £60m & 2 Ferraris?" Those days have gone Pearsie, I play for glory.
— Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) November 4, 2014
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Toure: Aguero on a par with Messi
Yaya Toure has suggested Sergio Aguero is on a par with Lionel Messi by saying it is difficult to choose between the two Argentinians.
Toure was a team-mate of Messi at Barcelona, where both were members of the 2009 Champions League-winning side. Now he lines up alongside Aguero, who is the Premier League's top scorer this season, for Manchester City.
While Messi is Barcelona's 363-goal record scorer, has won the Ballon d'Or four times and was named the best player in this summer's World Cup, Toure was reluctant to put him ahead of Aguero.
"I've been able to play with Messi but now I am able to play with Aguero," he told Nissan. "Aguero is a fantastic striker.
"If I have to choose one of them it's quite difficult. Messi is one of the best in the world, definitely, but Aguero as well is strong, clever, he's fast.
"Both strikers are fantastic and I really enjoyed to play with Messi and now to play with Aguero I really enjoy it."
Toure scored a career-best 24 goals last season as City found the back of the net 156 times - and Toure put it all down to Manuel Pellegrini, saying he has thrown off the defensive shackles imposed by Roberto Mancini.
He added: "In the past with Mancini we were a defensive side and with Pellegrini it's totally an offensive side. Any player can enjoy: you have more defensive players and players who prefer more to attack. Every player has his opinion. At the moment with Pellegrini, everybody is very delighted. I think both are fantastic managers."
Mangala happy to fill in for City
Manchester City Eliaquim Mangala is ready to answer the call and play as an emergency left-back for Manchester City in the coming weeks. Manuel Pellegrini's side will be without Aleksandar Kolarov for the next month after he suffered a calf injury prior to Sunday's win over Manchester United. The Citizens still have Gael Clichy to call on but they do not want to risk burning out the Frenchman during a a busy run of fixtures. Mangala, 23, previously played the role on a number of occasions during his time at Porto and is now set to rotate with his countryman. The powerhouse central defender has endured a difficult settling-in period since his much-heralded arrival in the summer. -
Man City loanee Albert Rusnak takes Netherlands by storm at Cambuur
Man City loanee Albert Rusnak has helped Cambuur climb to a respectable fifth in the Eredivisie.
Groningen players completely lost their heads when facing Albert Rusnak in September in a local Northern derby against Cambuur Leeuwarden. After the Slovakian midfielder opened the scoring with a sublime finish at the start of the second half, they understood stopping him would be nearly impossible and started hunting the youngster all over the pitch. Four Groningen players good booked in just two minutes after two nasty tackles on Rusnak, and coach Henk de Jong decided to substitute the star in order to protect him, before Cambuur ran out worthy 3-0 winners.
John Guidetti is the best Manchester City loanee this season and has impressed mightily at Celtic, but Rusnak is not far behind. Cambuur, promoted to Eredivisie in the summer of 2013, are a small club on a tiny budget and constantly searching for affordable young players who will help them survive. The past season, their play was built around Austrian prodigy Marcel Ritzmaier, who joined on loan from PSV Eindhoven and became a local hero. He went back to his club, and Cambuur needed someone to fill the void. Rusnak was chosen, and just a couple weeks into the new season, nobody misses Ritzmaier anymore.
The Slovakian has not only scored three goals and provided two assists in 11 games but also became the lynchpin in midfield, the man who dictates the tempo and runs the show. Cambuur play very attractive football, based on possession and short passing -- one might call them the tiki-taka team of Holland. That style was introduced last season by Canadian-born coach Dwight Lodeweges, who left for local rival Heerenveen in the summer, and his work has been continued and evolved by former assistant de Jong. For Rusnak, who knew next to nothing about the club before signing for them, it is a dream come true.
The youngster joined Manchester City in 2010 as a 16-year-old, when his father, Albert Rusnak Sr., got a scouting job for the club. Two-footed, imaginative, quick-thinking and technically sound, he was soon regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the academy, but his chances of playing for the first team were, naturally, close to zero.
The past season, Rusnak was loaned out, first to Oldham and then to Birmingham City, but the slightly built wizard could hardly fit into such physically demanding surroundings. He played very rarely, and when on the pitch, he usually just watched high balls fly back and forth over his head. Now, at long last, he is with a team that wants the ball at his feet most of the time.
Marcel Keizer, nephew of Ajax great Piet Keizer, who became the technical director at Cambuur in the summer, is the man responsible for the purchase.
"Rusnak was mostly used as a right winger in England, but we saw that he likes to drift to the middle, has technical skills and good vision," Keizer told Voetbal International about the decision to bring in the Slovakian and turn him into a playmaker.
Rusnak was so willing to get some playing time that he agreed to come for trial before signing for Cambuur. He initially started following the Eredivisie when fellow Slovakian Miroslav Stoch starred for Twente on loan from Chelsea and won the title in 2010. Ever since, the Dutch league was appealing to him, and the decision was easy to make when Cambuur came calling. The loan deal was initially signed until January but is now extended until the end of the season, as all parties are more than happy with his development.
The rough nature of the Championship didn't suit Rusnak when he was loaned to Birmingham.
The 20-year-old is firmly the crowd favourite in Leeuwarden. Local press describe him a humble person, even though he drives a sporty Mercedes.
"He is a gift from football heaven," Cambuur general manager Gerald van den Belt said.
"Albert's contribution is crucial. He is the most pleasant surprise, playing even better than Ritzmaier," local journalist Martijn Mooiweer said.
"He is comfortable on the ball, takes quality free kicks, possesses a good shot and adds a lot of flair," said Henk Albers, the NDC Media reporter who follows Cambuur closely.
The team is exceeding all expectations at the start of the season. After finishing 12th the past term, they were unbeaten in their first five games and climbed to third in late October. This past Sunday, another great goal by Rusnak almost gave them three points at Willem II, but they conceded an injury time equaliser and dropped to fifth -- still an extraordinary place for a club whose basic target is to avoid relegation.
Naturally, Rusnak is still relatively inexperienced and prone to lapses of concentration. In the fierce derby at Heerenveen, he lost the ball immediately after kickoff, and the mistake led to the quickest penalty in Dutch history -- after just nine seconds. De Jong was very angry, but Cambuur came back to salvage a 2-2 draw, and the coach eventually praised his protege.
"Albert is a special guy with great qualities," he said. "He finds space between the lines and is good with both feet."
As Rusnak's contract at City ends in the summer of 2015, an important decision will have to be made pretty soon. The midfielder believes the style of Manuel Pellegrini suits him but is aware breaking into the team will be extremely hard.
"There are no players aged 20 who play for City right now," he told De Telegraaf in late October. "They have Samir Nasri and David Silva in my position. Maybe I will have to stay in Holland for three more years."
Will the Sky Blues gamble on Rusnak next season, or will he join the long list of academy players who couldn't find their way through and were forced to leave? We might have to wait a few months to know the answer, but in the meantime, City fans should certainly follow Cambuur very closely. They won't be disappointed.
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Sister of fu
New leisure centre opened at Manchester City training campus
The leisure centre's 70-station gym features equipment from Technogym
A new £9m leisure centre developed by Manchester City Council in partnership with Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) and Sport England has opened its doors to the public.
East Manchester Leisure Centre sits within the Etihad Campus, which includes the City Football Academy – MCFC’s new youth development and training centre – and is part of the ongoing long-term regeneration of east Manchester. One third of the funding for the centre came from the council, with a third from MCFC and a third from Sport England.
Part of the wider Beswick Community Hub, the GLL-operated site is one of three new leisure centres planned for Manchester, with another facility opening at Hough End in spring 2015 and construction due to start on Arcadia in Levenshulme this month.
Designed by architecture firm AHR, East Manchester Leisure Centre features a 35x21m community pool with a moveable floor which allows for depth adjustments. There is also a 70-station gym and dance studio, as well as a number of grass sports pitches outside.
“East Manchester Leisure Centre will provide opportunities and facilities for the community that haven’t been available in the area before,” said Pete Bradshaw, head of corporate responsibility at MCFC.
“It is our shared ambition with Manchester City Council that East Manchester should become a centre of sporting excellence for all – a place of good health and wellbeing and where sport and leisure is widely accessible.”
Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal wants to sign Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar, 29, in January to help solve his defensive problems. (Daily Mirror)
Southampton must pay more than their club-record £15m fee - spent on Italy striker Pablo Osvaldo in 2013 - if they want to sign Palermo's 20-year-old forward Paulo Dybala. (Daily Star)
West Ham fear defender Winston Reid, 26, may leave despite them preparing to offer him a new £23m contract. (Sun)
Unsettled Toronto striker Jermain Defoe, 32, will join Queens Park Rangers in January as Harry Redknapp moves to sign the former Tottenham striker for the third time. (DSSC)
Barcelona forward Luis Suarez, 27, admits he is surprised to be left out of Fifa's 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or - the annual award given to the world's best player. (Guardian)
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho concedes he may have been unfair when he criticised Blues fans for being too quiet at home matches. (Daily Star)
Newcastle midfielder Jonas Gutierrez, 31, wants to return to the Premier League club next month to discuss his future. The Argentina international announced on Monday that he had received a 'medical discharge' after having treatment for testicular cancer. (Daily Mirror)
Newcastle legend Kevin Keegan has praised the club's board for standing by under-fire manager Alan Pardew when some fans were calling for his sacking. (Newcastle Chronicle)
QPR defender Rio Ferdinand, 35, has decided not to appeal against the three-match ban given to him by the Football Association for comments he made on Twitter. (Times)
Talks between Real Sociedad and David Moyes about the La Liga club's vacant coaching position have hit a snag, with the former Everton and Manchester United manager's wage demands considered too high. (Goal)
Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, 26, says he has realised a dream by joining Real Madrid and is determined to prove he deserves to stay at the Bernabeu when his season-long loan deal from Manchester United ends. (ESPN)
QPR boss Harry Redknapp says midfielder Joey Barton, 32, faces a fight to regain his place after being out with a hamstring injury since September. (Sun)
Paris St-Germain did try to sign Angel Di Maria, 26, from Real Madrid in the summer transfer window, despite the Argentina winger saying Manchester United were the only side to come in for him. (LeSport10 )
Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, 25, was one of seven regulars 'rested' for the Champions League match at Real Madrid on Tuesday, much to the disappointment of one-year-old daughter Elena, who travelled to the Bernabeu to watch her dad.
Apoel Nicosia defender John Arne Riise, 34, has voiced his frustration on Instagram at having to miss the Champions League game against Paris St-Germain on Wednesday through injury.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, 32, showcased his skills by posting a video on Twitter of him drumming along to the Foo Fighters' hit Walk.
Tottenham midfielder Nacer Chadli, 25, has posed naked for the December edition of Cosmopolitan, to help raise awareness of male cancer. (London Evening Standard )
Probably no Bollox tmo as I need to get up extra early in order to take my seat early to hail Aguero!
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