EPL

Guardiola 'pretty sure' Grealish will return to peak form

By Sports Desk May 27, 2024

Pep Guardiola is "pretty sure" Jack Grealish will return to his form of old in a Manchester City shirt after an underwhelming 2023-24 campaign.

Grealish was one of the poster boys of City's remarkable treble-winning campaign last year, but he struggled for starts this time around.

The 28-year-old was an unused substitute in the FA Cup final loss to Manchester United and did not feature at all in City's final four games.

Jeremy Doku, who joined last August, was instead preferred from the bench at Wembley and scored for City in their 2-1 defeat.

However, Guardiola believes City's club-record signing will return to his best next season.

"He will be back," Guardiola said. "He’s struggled this season and Jeremy has made an incredible step forward as everyone has seen. 

"But Jack will be back at the level of last season, I'm pretty sure."

City became the first club in English football to win four top-flight titles in a row, but they fell short in the Champions League and FA Cup, as well as the EFL Cup.

Star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has just one year to run on his contract, while others - goalkeeper Ederson among them - have been linked with a move away.

The reigning Premier League champions will also no doubt be looking to bring in new players as they prepare to defend their title once again.

"I know some players have to take a decision on whether they stay with us and some players might come," Guardiola said after the defeat to fierce rivals United.

"My sporting director says everything is fine for next year but right now, I don't know what might happen."

Related items

  • Yamal revels in 'dream' Euros bow as Spain crush Croatia Yamal revels in 'dream' Euros bow as Spain crush Croatia

    Lamine Yamal described his historic Euro 2024 bow as a "dream" after Spain hammered Croatia 3-0 in their Group B opener on Saturday.

    Starting at the age of 16 years and 338 days, Yamal became the youngest player to ever feature at the European Championships, and he rewarded Luis de la Fuente's faith with a terrific performance.

    The Barcelona winger saw his inviting cross prodded home by Dani Carvajal for La Roja's third goal, after Alvaro Morata and Fabian Ruiz had put them in control.

    Only fellow youngster Pedri matched his total of three chances created, while he led all players for crosses (three) and saw his three successful dribbles equalled only by Dani Olmo.

    Speaking after the game, Yamal said of Spain's fine display: "We trust ourselves a lot. We went out to give it our all, because three points already does a lot in the group stage.

    "It's a dream. I'm very happy to have played in the European Championship.

    "The team is very confident. Now we have to go all out against Italy. Nothing changes for one game. We go with the same confidence. The work of these last few months has been reflected today."

    Spain are now in the driving seat in a group many regard as the toughest at the tournament ahead of facing Italy and Albania.

    Captain Morata moved to seven European Championship goals with his opener, with only Cristiano Ronaldo (14) and Michel Platini (nine) ever scoring more.

    Morata later seemed to be holding his leg in discomfort when he was withdrawn for Mikel Oyarzabal, but the striker has assured fans he will be fit to face Italy on Thursday.

    "It was important to start like this," Morata said. "We pressed a great team very well. We must go for the games from the start and now think about the next one."

    On the knock he suffered in the second half, he said: "It was just a blow, I was loading other parts of my leg. 

    "The best thing was to go out and have another team-mate play better."

  • Bajrami scores fastest goal in Euros history against Italy Bajrami scores fastest goal in Euros history against Italy

    Nedim Bajrami scored the fastest goal in European Championship history as Albania made a stunning start to their Group B clash with Italy on Saturday.

    Just 23 seconds into the teams' first game at Euro 2024, Bajrami pounced on a terrible throw-in from Italy left-back Federico Dimarco before powering his shot inside Gianluigi Donnarumma's near post.

    The strike – which was just Albania's second at the Euros – was officially timed as the fastest after kick-off in the competition's 64-year history.

    However, Albania's lead lasted just 10 minutes as Alessandro Bastoni equalised, the Inter centre-back heading Lorenzo Pellegrini's cross home at the far post.

    Within another six minutes, Albania were behind as Nicolo Barella lashed home from range to put the Azzurri on top.

  • Kane dreams of Euro 2024 success as England captain aims for 'pinnacle' moment Kane dreams of Euro 2024 success as England captain aims for 'pinnacle' moment

    Harry Kane dreams of winning a major tournament with England to mark "the pinnacle of anyone's career", with the Three Lions star hoping to end his trophy drought at Euro 2024.

    Bayern Munich striker Kane will lead his country out once more when Gareth Southgate's side open their European Championship campaign against Serbia on Sunday.

    Having fallen short in the delayed Euro 2020 final against Italy, as well as World Clup semi-final elimination to Croatia in 2018, Kane is without international glory – and his lack of club success is much discussed, too.

    Kane acknowledged his own shortcomings as the England captain aims for national success in Germany.

    "I love playing for my country," he said at Saturday's pre-match press conference. "It means the world to me every time I step out onto the pitch wearing that shirt.

    "To win a major tournament with England would be the pinnacle of anyone's career. That's the aim.

    "For me personally, the trophies haven't quite happened yet, but it just makes me more determined and more hungry to go out there and do that.

    "It starts with this summer, where we have a good opportunity. We have a lot of hard work in front of us, but that opportunity is there and I'm looking forward to making it happen."

    Kane is England’s record goalscorer overall (63 goals) and their most prolific player at major tournaments (12 goals at World Cup/Euros).

    He scored or assisted in all seven of his starts in qualifying (eight goals, two assists) and heads into this tournament after a fine club season with Bayern.

    The former Tottenham forward scored 36 goals in 32 Bundesliga games for the most prolific debut campaign in the competition's history.

    Yet international success is all that matters over the next month for Kane.

    "Every tournament brings different expectations," Kane added. "We've earned the right to be classed as one of the favourites.

    "In past tournaments, we've done a lot of things well and done the country proud but, ultimately, we're here to win it and there'll be nothing better for us and the nation itself than if we do that."

    As for his own success, individual achievements are far from Kane's priority.

    "Back in 2018, the Golden Boot was an amazing achievement, but that's always a consequence of winning games and trying to win the European Championship, which is what we're trying to do," he said.

    "If I win the Golden Boot along the way, fantastic as I'm helping my team.

    "We have some great goalscorers in the team, players who are on form, who've had fantastic seasons, so now it's about taking that into a major tournament." 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.