Have Barcelona found their new Dani Alves?

According to reports in Spain, the Blagurana have identified Ajax teenager Sergino Dest as the long-term solution to their problematic right-back spot.

Despite his inexperience, it seems the 19-year-old could command a sizeable eight-figure sum.

 

TOP STORY – DEST THE BEST FOR BARCA

Nelson Semedo's proposed move to either Manchester City or Juventus looks set to pave the way for Barca to bring in a highly rated new right-back.

And the Catalan club know exactly what it will take to land their preferred target: €20million.

That is the fee Spanish newspaper Sport suggests will be enough to secure United States defender Dest when the transfer window reopens.

The Dutch-born full-back, who spurned Netherlands' interest in his international future, only recently graduated from Ajax's youth setup, making 15 Eredivisie starts before the coronavirus pandemic curtailed his breakthrough 2019-20 campaign.

 

ROUND-UP

- AC Milan are interested in Freiburg centre-back Robin Koch but the Rossoneri could face competition from Serie A rivals Napoli, claims CalcioMercato.

- Heading across town and Inter appear more interested in attacking reinforcements amid the uncertainty surrounding Lautaro Martinez. La Repubblica suggests the Nerazzurri are on the cusp of agreeing personal terms with Napoli forward Dries Mertens, who will become a free agent on June 30.

- Is a transfer battle brewing in Manchester? The Sun claims City boss Pep Guardiola wants to beat crosstown rivals United to Argentine attacking midfielder Thiago Almada, the promising Velez product said to be viewed as the successor to David Silva.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United could encounter more transfer frustration if Aston Villa continue to stand firm over their Jack Grealish valuation. According to the Mirror, relegation-threatened Villa are not prepared to budge on their £80m asking price.

- Ligue 1 heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain could move for experienced former Arsenal right-back Mathieu Debuchy, now of Saint-Etienne, to replace the out-of-contract Thomas Meunier, reports Le10Sport.

Liverpool are apparently looking at a Brazilian teenager who has drawn comparisons to Neymar, while Leroy Sane is set for a Manchester City exit.

Premier League leaders Liverpool are reportedly keen to strengthen this close season, albeit without spending huge amounts.

Sane, meanwhile, has been linked with Bayern Munich, and that move could be getting closer to reality.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL TARGET NEXT NEYMAR

Liverpool are targeting Vasco da Gama forward Talles Magno, according to the Mirror.

Talles, 17, has previously been likened to Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and is a Brazil youth international.

The teenager has already made 22 senior appearances for Vasco da Gama.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with Bayern Munich, Sane could get a move. The Evening Standard reports Manchester City are prepared to sell the Germany international if he refuses to sign an extension, with his contract expiring next year.

- Adrien Rabiot appears set for a Juventus exit. L'Equipe reports the midfielder wants to join Premier League outfit Everton.

- Manchester United and Wolves seemingly know what they will need to pay if they want Carlos Vinicius. The Mirror reports Benfica have told the Premier League clubs they must pay at least £89.4million (€100m) for the striker.

- On loan at Newcastle United from Inter, Valentino Lazaro could be set for a longer stay. The Sun reports Newcastle are in talks over a £21.25m (€23.8m) deal for the midfielder.

- Jeremy Sarmiento is catching the eye. The Sun reports the England youth and Benfica forward is a target for several clubs in Europe's top five leagues.

It is 35 years since Michael Jordan was named NBA Rookie of the Year and England claimed an elusive first major one-day trophy on this day a decade ago.

Jordan has been in the headlines with "The Last Dance" documentary going down a storm 35 years after he was named best rookie in the league.

May 16 was also a day England cricket lovers can reflect on with great memories, having beaten fierce rivals Australia to win the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 final in Bridgetown, Barbados.

It has also been a day of great significance for former Italy striker Roberto Baggio.

 

1985 - A sign of things to come from magnificent Jordan 

Making the step up to the NBA was no problem for Jordan, who lit the league up in his rookie season.

He finished third in the scoring charts and fourth with his tally of steals, steering the Chicago Bulls into the playoffs for the first time in four years.

In the first 35 games of his NBA career Jordan scored a total of 918 points; Elvin Hayes is the only rookie since 1963-64 with more (1,052).

Jordan averaged 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.39 steals in his debut season, so there was really only going to be one man landing the gong. 

 

2004 - Please don't go, Baggio 

It was on this day 16 years ago that the classy Baggio played the last match of his magnificent career.

The majestic playmaker was unable to celebrate a fitting winning finale, his Brescia side losing 4-2 at Milan.

A packed San Siro gave the ex-Italy maestro an emotional send-off, though, rising to give Baggio a standing ovation when he was substituted late on.

Both sets of players also stopped to applaud the 37-year-old, who had been among the best players in the world when in his prime.

 

2010 - England conquer in the Caribbean

It was England's day at the Kensington Oval, where they won the third edition of the men's T20 World Cup by seven wickets.

Australia posted 147-6 after Paul Collingwood put them in, Ryan Sidebottom taking 2-26 and David Hussey top scoring with 59.

England cruised to victory following a blistering second-wicket stand of 111 between Craig Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen. 

Kieswetter was named man of the match after smashing 63 from 49 balls, with Pietersen's swashbuckling 47 coming off just 31 deliveries before Collingwood and Eoin Morgan put Australia out of their misery.

Bernardo Silva paid tribute to Pep Guardiola, labelling the Manchester City boss "one of the best managers ever".

Guardiola has led City to two Premier League titles, three EFL Cups, an FA Cup and two Community Shield crowns since his arrival in 2016.

The Spaniard, who has also enjoyed success at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, is widely regarded as one of the best managers of all-time.

Silva lauded the 49-year-old for his impact at the Premier League club, saying: "Personally, I have learned a lot not only from him, but all my team-mates, since I arrived at Manchester City.

"He is one of the best managers ever. It is great to have him with us."

Silva also praised Guardiola for transforming City's playing style, with his side earning 100 points to win the 2017-18 Premier League title in record-breaking fashion.

"I know my team-mates, the influence that he has since he arrived at Manchester City is huge," the Portugal international said.

"You could see it with the results, with the titles in the last three seasons. Since I have arrived, we have won plenty of trophies.

"It is not just that, it is the way we play. We think that we make our fans enjoy the way we play – offensive football, creating chances, scoring goals, [playing] attractive football."

Arsenal's 2003-04 Premier League Invincibles remain one of the most celebrated teams in the history of European football.

For all the impressive numbers they racked up – from Thierry Henry's 30 goals to a hefty haul of 90 points – the most celebrated remains a zero.

As Arsene Wenger forecasted a season earlier, his glorious Gunners managed to conquer a top-flight season without a defeat on their record.

It was the first time the feat had been accomplished since Preston North End dominated the inaugural Football League season, although their triumphant jaunt across Victorian England was comprised of a mere 22 games.

There was little doubt Wenger's Arsenal set a new standard, one that the big hitters in a competition boasting increasingly lavish wealth were soon ready to try and meet.

Here, we look at how the Invincibles measure up to the finest teams to have tried to follow in their footsteps.

MOURINHO, RONALDO AND PORTUGUESE PERFECTION

After the swaggering French revolution Wenger oversaw in north London, the two most charismatic and dominant figures to grace the Premier League for the remainder of the decade hailed from another of Europe's former imperial powers.

Jose Mourinho took over at Chelsea and ended Arsenal's reign in his first season, racking up a Premier League-record 95 points – five more than the Gunners managed when drawing 12 of their 38 games unbeaten.

Chelsea did lose once – 1-0 to a Nicolas Anelka penalty at Manchester City – but won 29 matches to Arsenal's 26.

Mourinho's men scored one fewer with 72 but their defensive record was exceptional as they were breached only 15 times, compared to the still-laudable 26 Wenger's backline conceded in 2003-04.

Henry's efforts in his last title-winning season at Highbury were supplemented by six assists, a remarkable return many expected to be as untouchable as his team's feat over the coming years.

Nevertheless, Cristiano Ronaldo set up as many goals and scored one more as Manchester United romped to the second of three consecutive titles in 2007-08, when they also won the Champions League for good measure.

Arsenal's historic achievement was quickly off the table as Alex Ferguson's men laboured to two points from their first three matches, but they were electrifying from that point as Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez accompanied Ronaldo in a lethal front three.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner averaged 74 minutes per goal involvement, bettering Henry's 93 minutes and boasted a slightly sharper conversion rate of 17.8 per cent set against 15.7 per cent.

United's 27 victories edged the Invincibles, although five defeats meant a points tally of 87.

GUARDIOLA, KLOPP AND THE NEW NORMAL

The idea that Arsenal's 90 points from 2003-04 would not be enough to win a league title seemed fanciful back then, with Chelsea's 95-point season feeling like a bit of a glitch owed to the Mourinho golden years.

In 2018-19, Liverpool amassed 97 points, the third highest total in Premier League history, and came second. In fact, it was the highest points total ever by a team not managed by Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City claimed their own landmark title win a year earlier, reaching 100 points on the final day of the season at Southampton as Gabriel Jesus netted their 106th goal, before Jurgen Klopp's Reds forced them to back it up with 98 to retain the crown. They won 32 out of 38 matches each time

Those two phenomenal teams have made stockpiling victories the new normal. Before the COVID-19 pandemic brought a halt to the league, Liverpool were set to join and surpass City in reaching three figures. A scarcely credible 27 victories from 29 outings amounts to a win percentage of 93.1.

City's 2017-18 team conceded at a rate of 0.71 goals per game and this year's Liverpool at 0.72, making them both slightly more porous than the Arsenal, Chelsea and United teams of the previous decade.

Klopp's current vintage are remarkably clinical, with their 15.59 shots per game lower than any of the teams discussed since Wenger's Arsenal (14.18). However, both City (2.79 per game) and Liverpool (2.28 per game) scored goals at a phenomenal rate. None of the other three averaged more than Arsenal's 1.92.

The returns being posted in this new reality dwarf all that has come before but, ultimately, that only heightens the appeal and allure of the Premier League's most famous zero.

As City entered January 2018 and Liverpool approached March this year without a defeat to their name, Invincibles talk inevitably bubbled away. That frontier only once crossed still matters. It is the ultimate tightrope act.

City and Liverpool sides making mincemeat of the competition still lost – Guardiola's men twice after the turn of the year and Klopp's stunningly at relegation-threatened Watford. Arsenal did not, in a division where the competitive balance was not quite as skewed as today. The modern heavyweights have only underlined the unlikeliness of the accomplishment.

Teams in their wake scored more goals, conceded fewer and won more games. As the Premier League's best continue to stack up dizzying numbers, Arsenal's last title winners slip a little further down the all-time standings. And yet, it is that nought that continues to define them and their successors. The nothing that still means everything.

In the history of Blackburn Rovers, May 14 is a momentous sporting date.

Twenty-five years ago today, Blackburn sealed the Premier League title on a dramatic afternoon at Anfield.

This date also represents the 14-year anniversary of a famous day in the history of Spanish motorsport, achieved by Formula One great Fernando Alonso.

Here we look back at some of the top moments to occur on May 14 in the world of sport.

 

1995 - Blackburn secure dramatic Premier League title

Blackburn were crowned Premier League champions at Anfield in the most dramatic of circumstances in 1995.

Rovers came into the final day of the season leading title rivals Manchester United, who were playing at West Ham, by two points.

When Alan Shearer scored his 34th league goal of a remarkable season, everything appeared to be going to plan.

However, Liverpool goals from John Barnes and a last-gasp winner from Jamie Redknapp had Rovers fearing their chance of a first English top-flight championship since 1914 had passed them by.

United were piling on the pressure in their match but were unable to snatch a late winner against West Ham that would have seen them win the title, as they were held to a 1-1 draw.

Following the full-time whistle, it took several nervous moments before Blackburn boss Kenny Dalglish and his players got confirmation that the title was theirs, prompting ecstatic scenes.

Given Dalglish's history with Liverpool and the fact their rivals United had been denied, home fans were pretty happy with the outcome as well.

Rovers finished a disappointing seventh when defending their title, after which the departure of the magnificent Shearer to Newcastle United ended their hopes of competing again.

Shearer went on to become the Premier League's record goalscorer but this league title remained the only one he won in his career.

 

2006 - Alonso makes Spanish Grand Prix history

Cheered on by King Juan Carlos and a 130,000-strong crowd at Circuit de Catalunya, Alonso became the first home driver to win the Spanish Grand Prix in 2006.

The Renault star, who would go to win his second Formula One world title that year, qualified in pole position, with team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella joining him on the front row.

Alonso had been forced to settle for second in the previous year's race, but he was not to be denied this time around, building a strong lead and ultimately cruising home ahead of title rival Michael Schumacher.

It was a key moment in the championship battle, given Schumacher had won the previous two grands prix.

"To finish first in front of my people, my supporters, I think was my best feeling so far in a Formula One car," said Alonso, who was then 24.

"The Brazilian Grand Prix where I won the championship [in 2005] - I didn't enjoy it as much as I did here."

Alonso went on to claim one further win at his home race, triumphing in 2013 with Ferrari, as well as winning the 2012 European Grand Prix on home soil in Valencia.

 

2011 - Man City claim FA Cup glory

Manchester City have won 11 major trophies since they were taken over by their Abu Dhabi owners in 2008.

Their four Premier League crowns in that time are the biggest of those, but City fans will fondly remember the first – their 2011 FA Cup crown.

Yaya Toure scored the winner with a powerful strike 16 minutes from time to give City a 1-0 victory over Stoke City at Wembley, with Mario Balotelli named man of the match.

It was the team's first trophy in 35 years, their last having come in the EFL Cup way back in 1976.

This success under Roberto Mancini set them up to win their first Premier League title the following season.

Luring Lautaro Martinez from Inter to Barcelona appears complicated.

Barca are reportedly determined to sign Martinez as the Spanish giants look to bring in a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

But, Barca reportedly need some help from other clubs to get the deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – TRIO KEY TO LAUTARO DEAL

Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City are set for a three-way swap involving Inter star Lautaro Martinez, according to Sport.

Martinez has been tipped to swap Inter for Barcelona but the LaLiga champions are trying to drive down the price.

The proposed exchange deal would see Nelson Semedo leave Barca for City, allowing Joao Cancelo to return to Inter as Martinez moves to Camp Nou.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have agreed a £62million (€70m) deal for Lyon striker Moussa Dembele, reports TodoFichajes. Dembele has been linked with United, Chelsea and Barca.

- The Telegraph says Bundesliga titleholders Bayern Munich are preparing a €56m (£50m) bid for City star Leroy Sane, who is set to return to Germany.

- Could Houssem Aouar replace Miralem Pjanic at Juventus? Pjanic is reportedly set to sign for Barca despite interest from United and Le10Sport claims Juve are eyeing Lyon star Aouar.

- Exchange deals might be needed for Juve to have a chance of completing their dream transfers. Linked to former star and United midfielder Paul Pogba, Il Bianconero says Douglas Costa, Adrien Rabiot and Federico Bernardeschi could be used to tempt the Red Devils. An exchange deal with Chelsea could also see Douglas Costa and Aaron Ramsey, and Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri, trade places.

Dries Mertens prefers a move to Inter over Chelsea should he leave Napoli, according to Sky Sport Italia. The Belgium international is set to become a free agent.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are focused on bringing Brescia and Italy sensation Sandro Tonali to San Siro.

Gary Neville has slammed Carlos Tevez for his behaviour and professionalism towards the end of his second season at Manchester United, adding he "couldn't stand" it.

Tevez won two Premier League titles in as many seasons with United between 2007 and 2009, as well as the Champions League.

He acrimoniously left the club for rivals Manchester City after his two-year loan stint at Old Trafford came to an end.

While many United fans were angry at the Argentine for joining City, it was his deteriorating attitude after a stellar debut campaign at United that irritated Neville.

"What annoyed me about Tevez was that he downed tools in his second season," former United captain Neville told Sky Sports.

"He started sitting on the treatment table, started coming out late for training, started messing around.

"He was playing the club and I couldn't stand that, particularly being how I was at the time, which was a ferocious Manchester United person who never thought of anything else in my life.

"I understood that he had circumstances, but his people were in his ear all the time and he was so led by his people. It was always going to come to an end like it did.

"I felt disappointed that, as a professional, he didn't act the right way.

"The problem that I had with Tevez wasn't that he went to play for Manchester City. That wasn't the main issue for me. It was the way it played out in those last few months. I didn't like it."

Cristiano Ronaldo, who also departed at the end of the 2008-09 season, was an example of a player who left United in the right way, according to Neville.

"I never had a problem with people leaving the club," he said. "David Beckham left the club, Cristiano Ronaldo left the club, Ruud van Nistelrooy left the club. Great, great players.

"But there was a way to leave the club and the way to behave while you're there."

Neville was keen to stress he was an admirer of Tevez's ability, as he formed a devastating front three with Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

He added: "Let's be clear here, Tevez, for a year, with Ronaldo and Rooney, was just breathtaking.

"It was out of this world, not just because of the quality of the players, but because there was a real selfish, horrible, nasty determination to those three.

"Ronaldo in a different way on the pitch, in the sense that he wouldn't go around kicking people, hassling people and hustling.

"He was just immense in terms of his performance levels. But Rooney and Tevez were street fighters, with unbelievable ability. 

"We talk about the best front threes in the Premier League - you'll never beat those three for me."

Pep Guardiola improved Douglas Luiz by "70 per cent" despite the Brazilian working with the coach for just a few months across his time at Manchester City.

Douglas Luiz joined City from Vasco da Gama as a teenager in 2017 but was swiftly sent out on loan to Girona for the 2017-18 season, before returning to the Spanish side for the following campaign.

Those temporary moves came either side of a full pre-season Douglas Luiz spent with Guardiola and the City senior squad, while he also teamed up with them briefly ahead of his permanent move to Aston Villa last July.

Although Douglas Luiz's exposure to Guardiola's coaching methods was limited, he was still able to appreciate just how good the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich tactician is.

"I have no words to explain him," Douglas Luiz told Vasco TV. "He's a guy who is focused on football, his life is football.

"For me, he is the best coach in the world. In two months, the guy managed to evolve more than 70 per cent of my potential.

"I have a lot of affection for him, I thank him so much for everything he did. I feel very honoured to have this affection from a great coach, who for me is the best, for my football."

Despite a promising second season with Girona and training with City's first team, when an offer reportedly worth £15million arrived from Villa, Douglas Luiz's days at Etihad Stadium were over.

It came as a surprise to the midfielder and, while City inserted a buy-back clause in the deal, at Villa he feels he has found a home not too dissimilar to Vasco.

"I didn't expect to be sold, but I think God knows everything," he said. "I am very happy in this great club that, for me, is like Vasco.

"It has its 'cauldron' [stadium], it has a very passionate crowd for the club. It is a club that is recognised throughout the country, and I'm sure the club is very happy.

"There is a clause that Manchester City can buy me in those first two years."

Gabriel Jesus' goal deep into stoppage time at Southampton gave Manchester City a 1-0 win on the final day two years ago and brought up another landmark in the Premier League champions' stunning 2017-18 season.

Pep Guardiola leapt on to the St Mary's turf jubilantly to join the celebrations, in the knowledge his team had become the first in English top-flight history to reach 100 points in a single campaign.

City made a habit of breaking new statistical ground while turning what had promised to be a captivating title race into a procession – although a similarly dominant performance from Liverpool this time around means some of those best marks will be under threat as and when the Premier League resumes.

Here, we have a look at some of the most astonishing numbers from what proved to be the first of back-to-back title triumphs.

100 – City passed Chelsea's previous Premier League best of 95 points by beating Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 in their penultimate match. Adjusting Liverpool's efforts in the 1978-79 season to three points for a win, the overall record stood at 98 - a number City matched in 2018-19 when pipping Jurgen Klopp's Reds to retain the title by a point.

100 – Despite winning six previous league titles across spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola reached 100 points in a season for the first time in his career - surpassing 99 with Barca in 2009-10.

32 – No English team has won more games in a top-flight season than City in 2017-18. Their 16 away wins also represented a competition best. Liverpool's tilt at the latter mark might be ruled out by any Premier League restart at neutral venues this term, although six wins from their remaining nine games would take them to 33 victories.

18 – Beginning with a 2-1 win at Bournemouth on August 26, 2017, and concluded by a 1-0 triumph at Newcastle on December 27, 2017, City set a Premier League best of 18 consecutive victories. Liverpool matched this streak before losing 3-0 at Watford in February.

106 – Jesus' goal concluded the most prolific team season in Premier League history. Tottenham's 1962-63 Division One winners scored 111 times.

– City won the Premier League with five games to spare, equalling the efforts of Manchester United (1907-08 and 2000-01) and Everton (1984-85). This is a record Klopp's men were on course to surpass when this season's action paused.

1 – Guardiola was the first Spanish manager to win the Premier League.

19 – The gap between first and second in the final standings has never been bigger than the 19-point gap between City and Jose Mourinho's United. At present, City trail Liverpool by 25 points with a game in hand.

79 -  No Premier League side has ever had a larger positive goal difference.

A little over two minutes before the moment that will forever define his career, Manchester City hero Sergio Aguero showed sharpness in the Queens Park Rangers goalmouth that would not have been out of place at Old Trafford.

Old Trafford cricket ground that is, just down the road from City's bitter rivals and their home of the same name.

As Edin Dzeko's equaliser from David Silva's right-wing corner bounced back off the netting, Aguero pounced, snaffling it like a quicksilver short-leg fielder and darting back to the centre circle for City's final tilt at the improbable.

There was certainly nothing wrong with the striker's movement after Joey Barton brazenly tried to dead leg him – one of many surreal and key incidents that fed into a frenzied and famous race against the clock on May 13, 2012.

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The whole story is now as well worn as any in football history.

On the cusp of a first top-flight title for 44 years, Robert Mancini's Manchester City faced relegation-threatened QPR on the final day of the season. In their previous 18 Premier League home matches that season, they had won 17 and drawn the other – the most recent of those a 1-0 win over United that tipped a titanic Mancunian tussle back towards the blue side of town.

City simply needed to match United's result at Sunderland and led 1-0 at the interval thanks to Pablo Zabaleta, only for second-half goals from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie to turn the contest on its head.

It remained 2-1 heading into stoppage time despite QPR operating with 10 men. City youth product Barton was dismissed for tussling with Carlos Tevez and responded to Mike Dean's red card by thumping his knee into Aguero's thigh before aiming a headbutt at Vincent Kompany. Fireworks enthusiast Mario Balotelli poured some petrol on this particular bonfire by confronting the combustible Scouser as he stomped towards the tunnel.

Aside from that significant blemish, QPR's discipline was otherwise impeccable. Despite ceding 81.3 possession overall and 84.1 per cent during the second half, they only made seven fouls. Stoppages were infrequent as City thrashed and flailed with increasing desperation and diminishing artistry around the opposition penalty area.

Without Barton's meltdown, there is little chance five minutes of stoppage time - or the three minutes and 20 seconds they ultimately required - would have been signalled. It was time City desperately needed and time they could put to good use with their top scorer's fast-twitch fibres bristling.

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Barton was not the only QPR man with City connections. His team-mates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Nedum Onuoha had also graduated through Jim Cassell's Platt Lane youth system, while Rangers boss Mark Hughes was Mancini's immediate predecessor, having been axed shortly before Christmas in 2009.

Hughes, of course, also played for United with distinction across two spells, and those loyalties struck a chord as news came through Bolton Wanderers had failed to beat Stoke City, meaning the Londoners were safe irrespective of the outcome at the Etihad Stadium.

"[City] got back on level terms and I always remember, at that point, I knew we were safe because the other result came in," he told the Coaches Voice earlier this year.

"I'm thinking, 'I wouldn't mind United winning, if I'm honest'. It's 2-2 and Jay Bothroyd looked over, asking what we wanted them to do [from the restart]. The players understood the [Bolton] game was over and we'd stayed up. We just said kick it as far as you can, right in the corner and the game's over."

Hughes' recollections from that point credit City with a poise they absolutely lacked. Rarely can a team have scored twice in this space of two minutes and – save for a crucial few seconds – played so shambolically.

Bothroyd's hoof found touch and scampering Joe Hart ran out of his goal to take the throw-in. The England goalkeeper almost missed the pitch.

Gael Clichy carried the ball down the flank, only for his attempted cross to turn into a block tackle with Mackie. Samir Nasri's aimless, floated effort that followed did little more than give Clint Hill a ninth successful clearance of the afternoon.

Nasri then excelled himself by shepherding the ball out for a QPR throw-in. Just 40 seconds before that explosion of ecstasy there was fury and anguish in the stands. Aguero watched it all from roughly the QPR penalty spot. Apparently he'd seen quite enough.

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Now 31 and City's all-time top scorer, Aguero honed his lethal skills playing against bigger boys in Buenos Aires on the neighbourhood potrero – the hard gravel and mud neighbourhood pitches that football purists in Argentina bemoan are a diminishing presence.

"When you play you have to think fast. Who to take on, who not," Aguero said when recalling those days in a 2018 documentary for City's in-house television channel. "You know who is going to play dirty, who isn't.

"You start to realise what you can do on the pitch and what you can't."

Reflecting further in the 2019 book 'Pep's City' by Pol Ballus and Lu Martin, he further explained the proving ground that readied him for Barton and others.

"Getting kicked black and blue was all part of the game," he said. "You held on to the ball any way you could.

"Running with the ball was a whole different concept for us. I'd be up against big, tough boys and I was always the smallest. But I learned how to survive."

Aguero remembered those matches were played for the prize of a peso, which would garner one of his favourite sweet treats, an alfajor or dulce de leche.

As United's players took in full-time and three points at the Stadium of Light, and Nigel de Jong brought the ball forward in Manchester to the soundtrack of QPR celebrations – their fans aware of Bolton's fate – the stakes were somewhat higher.

Vacating his spot in a penalty area already crowded by substitutes Dzeko and Balotelli, along with a marauding Kompany, Aguero took possession from De Jong 30 yards from goal.

He faced up to a compact QPR back four, with the visitors' four midfielders all in his immediate vicinity.

"You start to realise what you can do on the pitch and what you can't."

A shuffling touch to his left engineered space outside Shaun Derry, but Aguero needed help. Ideally from someone reliable, given the complete lack of any margin for error.

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Balotelli was on the pitch in a Manchester City shirt for the first time in over a month.

Mancini had not trusted his wayward protege since a brainless red card in a 1-0 Easter Sunday defeat at Arsenal left City eight points behind United with six games to play. Tevez, who had spent the bulk of the campaign AWOL playing golf in Argentina, represented a far more dependable option.

But with nowhere left to turn, he dared and prayed for Mario to be super. However briefly.

Introduced in the 76th minute, Balotelli gave the impression he had not just been banished from Premier League arenas, but football pitches altogether since his previous game.

The Italy striker managed to run through seven attempts – two on target, five blocked – during a frenzied cameo. It was probably as well Aguero found him with his back to goal, inside the D and grappling with Anton Ferdinand.

"I tried to control the ball and I had a contact from the defender and the ball went a little bit far from my foot," Balotelli told City TV five years on. "I thought in that half second there is maybe going to be a little bit of space for Sergio."

If Balotelli had stayed upright, the likelihood is QPR would have seen through their final piece of dogged tireless defending. In being forced on to his backside for the only assist of his Premier League career, he created opportunity and chaos.

Facing his own goal, Derry had to hurdle a prone Balotelli, while Wright-Phillips' route back to defend was also compromised. With his centre-back partner grounded, Hill held his position square on, while Kompany's haring towards the six-yard box dragged left-back Taye Taiwo with him.

A pocket of space opened up. A spot of turf Balotelli was able to locate from his sedentary position. As limbs flailed around him and a tight defence scattered, Aguero was thinking fast. The law of the porteno.

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Argentina's aforementioned tradition of tough, uncompromising neighbourhood football goes hand in hand with the mystique and mythology that cloaks the country's national sport.

A playing style grounded in skill and improvisation - La Nuestra, which translates as "our way" – was locked into the collective consciousness during the first half of the 20th century. The preeminent football magazine El Grafico, served to deepen this romantic attachment, with depictions of the pibe – literally a kid or urchin, whose rough and ready footballing techinique combined street smarts and skill and was something of an archetype. Typically they would dribble in the gambeta style, a description that implies close control, cunning and deceit of opponents.

The idea that the likes of Diego Maradona, Ariel Ortega, Lionel Messi and all those other squat, explosive and technically brilliant attackers from Argentina immersed themselves in the yellowed pages of El Grafico archive is far-fetched, but the style is unquestionably embedded. Think of the amount of barrelling, dribbling goals such players have produced – close control, small pauses and faints as thighs piston their way through defences.

As the walls were closing in on City's title bid, Aguero showed himself to be a proud product of this lineage. When Balotelli began his battle against gravity, he deftly checked his run behind and around Wright-Phillips to open up a path to the penalty area.

Letting the pass roll, he shaped to shoot, drawing a scampering Taiwo, who left his Kompany decoy a little too late to remain in control. Aguero did not actually touch Balotelli's return pass until his body position persuaded a rash slide tackle that he nudged beyond with the outside of his right boot.

With Taiwo suitably gambeta'd, there came one last stroke of fortune.

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"I touched it again and saw I was close to the goal, so I said 'I'll shoot'. The worst thing was that I wanted to shoot hard across goal and it went to the near post, I don't know what happened" Aguero told TyC Sports last month – the latter sentiment at least aligning him with every soul inside the Etihad Stadium that day.

"After watching it back, I realised that if I had shot across goal a defender could have blocked it. I celebrated the goal and told everybody, 'I hit it so well!'."

Goal 23 of a personal Premier League tally that now reads 180, one of 127 with Aguero's ferocious right boot, understandably left an indelible impression on the suddenly defeated Hughes.

"Of all the games I've been involved in, that noise at that moment when that goal went in is different to anything I've ever heard before or since.

"It was just unbelievable sound – different sound to a football crowd. It was a mixture of screaming and noise. It was just an unbelievable moment."

That racket has since been replayed thousands of times across the world. A goal on a tightrope that altered the course of English football, which began with gifting the opposition a 92nd-minute throw-in and ended thanks to a miscue after the main protagonist's strike partner fell over.

It is the Premier League's most famous goal - a moment as synonymous with Manchester as cotton mills and the Hacienda, and yet Argentinian to its very bones.

Giuseppe Farina won the first ever Formula One race on this day in 1950 and much more recently May 13 was a historic day for Manchester City.

Farina put his name in the record books with victory in the British Grand Prix 70 years ago.

Sergio Aguero scored a last-gasp winner against QPR to snatch a first Premier League title for City on an afternoon of high drama in Manchester eight years ago.

It was also Arsene Wenger's last game in charge of Arsenal and there was a tennis first on this day.

 

1950 - Flying Farina storms to Silverstone victory

Italian Farina dominated the inaugural F1 race at Silverstone after starting from pole position.

With King George VI among an estimated crowd of up to 120,000, Alfa Romeo driver Farina took the chequered flag ahead of team-mates Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell.

The great Juan Manuel Fangio retired from the race, also titled as the Grand Prix d'Europe, due to engine trouble. 

Farina went on to win the title after such a strong start.

 

1973 - Riggs beats Court in 'Battle of the Sexes' opener

Former world number one Bobby Riggs and the legendary Margaret Court contested the first 'Battle of the Sexes' match on this day in 1973.

Riggs had stated he could beat any top female player at the age of 55 and after Billie Jean King declined his challenge, Court stepped forward to take him on.

Court, the best female player in the world at the time, was soundly beaten 6-2, 6-1 at the San Vincente Country Club in Ramona, California.

Riggs then challenged King once again and she accepted on this occasion, beating him in straight-sets four months later, with the $100,000 winnings donated to charity.

 

2012 - Aguero puts City in dreamland

City looked set to miss out on being crowned champions of England for the first time in 1968 when they trailed 10-man QPR on the final day of the 2011-12 season.

Manchester United were minutes from popping the champagne corks, but neighbours City staged a remarkable fightback at the Etihad Stadium.

Edin Dzeko equalised after 92 minutes and the lethal Aguero rifled home a couple of minutes later, with time almost up, as City sensationally snatched a 3-2 victory to win the title on goal difference.

QPR had played much of the second half a man down after Joey Barton's dismissal.

 

2018 - 1-0 to the Arsenal for Wenger farewell

There was not a dry eye in the away end when Arsene Wenger's long reign as Arsenal manager ended with a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town two years ago.

Wenger went over to salute the Gunners faithful before kick-off in West Yorkshire, with the Frenchman also taking a bow.

There was a standing ovation for the departing Arsenal boss after 22 minutes to celebrate the number of years he had been charge of the London club.

Banners were flown over the ground before the visitors took all three points in a game with nothing at stake other than pride, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the only goal.

Barcelona and Juventus are getting close to an incredible exchange deal.

Miralem Pjanic has continued to be linked with a move to Camp Nou, although there has been uncertainty over how, and if, Barcelona could get a transfer done.

It seems they are on the verge of sealing a deal for the midfielder.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA, JUVENTUS CLOSE TO AGREEING EXCHANGE DEAL

Barcelona and Juventus are close to agreeing an exchange deal involving four players, according to Sport.

It says Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio will join Barca, with Jean-Clair Todibo – who is on loan at Schalke this season – and Arturo Vidal or Ivan Rakitic heading to Turin.

Barcelona have also been linked with moves for Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar.

ROUND-UP

- Kingsley Coman is wanted by three of Europe's biggest clubs. Sky reports Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City are interested in the Bayern Munich attacker.

- Linked with a move away from Tottenham, Tanguy Ndombele may be going nowhere. The Mirror says Spurs will not allow the midfielder, reportedly a target for Barcelona, to leave this close season.

- Another Spurs player, however, could leave. Tottenham defender Juan Foyth, who is contracted at the club until 2022, is being eyed by Barca, according to the Mirror.

- It seems Angel Gomes is leaving Manchester United. The Mirror claims Chelsea feel they are close to landing the midfielder, whose deal at Old Trafford expires at the end of June.

- Real Betis and Portugal midfielder William Carvalho is drawing plenty of attention. Diario de Sevilla reports Wolves are the latest club to join the race for Carvalho, who has been linked to Tottenham, Monaco, Leicester City and Watford previously.

Joan Laporta plans to enter the Barcelona presidential elections next year and wants Pep Guardiola to return if he is successful.

Laporta spent seven years as Barca president before stepping down in 2010.

A decade after relinquishing power at Camp Nou, the 57-year-old has set his sights on succeeding Josep Maria Bartomeu in 2021.

Laporta promoted an inexperienced Guardiola to the role of first-team coach in 2008 and that proved to be a masterstroke.

If Laporta has his way, the Manchester City boss will return to Catalonia.

He told Catalan station TV3: "I'm working to introduce myself as a presidential candidate.

"I've been president before and I'm excited to be back. The situation in 2021 will be dramatic and we'll have to reverse it. I'm working with people I trust."

He added: "I would very much like Guardiola to come back, but now he is at City and it is a decision that Pep should take. He is a benchmark for Barcelona and many Catalans would like him to train Barca again.

"At the right time, I will speak to the person we think should be a Barca coach from 2021."

Laporta suggested it may be too early for Xavi to take the Barca hotseat, which was only filled by Quique Setien in January.

He said: "Xavi is already a coach, he lives by football and it is he who must decide what his moment is.

"In 2021 there will still be players [at Barca] who were Xavi's team-mates, and he must think if he is prepared to lead former team-mates, which is not an easy thing."

Laporta added of the former Spain midfielder: "He is an honest man, he knows a lot about football and he will make the right decision, he will know what his time is to train Barca. I have not talked about Xavi on these issues."

Lommel SK have become the latest club to be acquired by the City Football Group (CFG).

CFG, headed by Abu Dhabi United, was founded in 2014 after Sheikh Mansour took over Manchester City in 2008.

Since completing that acquisition and turning City into the dominant force in the Premier League, CFG has taken over Melbourne City, Montevideo City Torque, New York City, Mumbai City and Girona.

Additionally, CFG also has stakes in Sichuan Jiuniu and Yokohama F. Marinos.

The Group has now expanded into Belgium, taking over the second-tier club renowned for a "strong academy and focus on youth development".

Ferran Soriano, CFG's chief executive, said: "We are excited to welcome Lommel SK to City Football Group and to work together with the fans and the city to develop the club.

"Belgium is one of Europe's best football countries as demonstrated by the success of the national team and the development of world-class players, some of whom we know very well, like Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany.

"This investment is part of our long-term strategy to be present in key football countries, play beautiful football and develop talent.

"We were attracted to Lommel's culture, training facilities and commitment to youth development and we look forward to learning from their approach and helping the club to evolve in the months and years ahead."

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