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.

                                                                *********************

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.

                                                                *********************

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.

                                                                *********************

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.

                                                                *********************

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.

                                                                *********************

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.

                                                                *********************

"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."

Thibaut Courtois showed safe hands behind the steering wheel as he got the better of Sergio Aguero in Formula One's Virtual Spanish Grand Prix.

Victory at a simulated Circuit de Catalunya went to Britain's George Russell, racing for the Williams team, who fended off Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in a gripping finish.

The battle of the footballers went the way of Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois though, with the Belgian's Alfa Romeo placing 12th after the 33-lap contest.

Manchester City striker Aguero marked his debut in the eSport with a solid 14th place, having been battling with golf's Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter at one stage, and the Argentinian said his debut was "not bad".

Poulter ended up 18th for Renault, one place better off than Barcelona midfielder Arthur Melo, whose Haas finished last of the cars that completed the race.

McLaren's Lando Norris pulled out midway through.

Russell started on pole and wound up in a battle over the closing laps with Leclerc, when it became clear they were the class cars in the field.

Victory looked set to go to Leclerc when Russell picked up a three-second penalty, but Monte Carlo driver Leclerc collected the same punishment himself on the penultimate lap, the pair both penalised for cutting corners.

That let 22-year-old Russell cruise to the finish line, celebrating what he said was a first motor racing win for him since 2018, when he was competing in Formula Two.

"I am feeling ecstatic. I'm not used to this winning thing," Russell told Sky Sports. "I've not done it for a long, long time."

He said he was "almost wetting my pants" when news came through of Leclerc's penalty late in the race, having been "angry" about his earlier sanction.

Leclerc felt "very disappointed" to have a likely victory taken away but praised Russell's performance, describing the Englishman, who fell from pole to fifth place in the early stages, as "extremely quick" when it mattered most.

“When he showed his real pace towards the end he was just too quick for me,” Leclerc said.

David Moyes was appointed as Manchester United boss seven years ago on Saturday and Kerry Packer shook up the cricketing establishment back in 1977.

A day on from Alex Ferguson announcing his retirement after a long, glorious reign at Old Trafford, Everton manager Moyes was introduced as his successor.

Australian media mogul Packer was making waves 43 years ago with the birth of the World Series Cricket.

Free-scoring Manchester City's record-breaking Premier League exploits are fresher in the memory, while Michael Schumacher claimed a record-equalling victory on May 9, 2004.

We look back at those most memorable sporting moments.

 

1977 - Packer starts a revolution

The impact Packer's intervention had upon cricket at the highest level is still felt to this day.

He signed up dozens of the best players in the world for a breakaway tournament, christened World Series Cricket, to be staged in opposition to established international series. 

Packer had becoming increasingly frustrated at seeing attempts to secure TV rights for his Channel Nine network dismissed by the Australian Cricket Board.

On this day in 1977, it emerged that 13 Australians who were set to feature in the Ashes had signed for Packer along with the likes of Tony Greig, who was sacked as England captain as a result.

Players were lured by better financial packages and Packer not only ruffled a few feathers but is credited with heralding a watershed moment for the sport.

 

2004 - Schumacher's record-equalling high five

The great Schumacher did not have one of his better races at the Circuit de Catalunya but he was able to celebrate making it five wins out of five in a dream start to the 2004 Formula One season.

In doing so, Schumacher matched the record set by Nigel Mansell 12 years earlier.

Ferrari's rivals were unable to take advantage of what was certainly not a flawless weekend for the Scuderia, with Schumacher hampered by a defective exhaust.

His start had not got to plan in Barcelona either, but the seven-time world champion was not to be denied.

 

2013 - Moyes is the man for United

United fans were still digesting the huge announcement that Ferguson would quit at the end of the 2012-13 season when Moyes was named as the man to take the hotseat.

Moyes had impressed the United board during his tenure with the Toffees and was handed a six-year deal.

Ferguson said: "David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. I've admired his work for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of assistant manager here. There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this club."

It was always going to be a tough task taking over from his fellow Scot and Moyes was sacked after just 10 months in the role.

 

2018 - Relentless City make history 

Pep Guardiola's City made history on this day two years ago by setting a record Premier League points tally.

City eased to a 3-1 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion to surpass the previous best mark of 95 points set by Chelsea in the 2004-05 campaign.

The newly crowned champions were not finished there, reaching 100 points when Gabriel Jesus sealed a last-gasp 1-0 win at Southampton on the final day.

City were a mammoth 19 points better off than second-placed neighbours United when the season came to an end, having lost just twice.

In 2018-19, City and Liverpool registered the second and third biggest points totals in Premier League history, with Guardiola's men racking up 98 to retain the title by a point.

Barcelona's pursuit of Lautaro Martinez continues – and they are reportedly offering up six players as part of the deal.

The LaLiga giants continue to be linked with a move for the Inter star, although reports suggest they are likely to struggle to get a deal done.

The latest report shows just how much difficulty they are facing.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA OFFER INTER CHOICE OF SIX PLAYERS FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are offering Inter a list of six players for Martinez, according to Sport.

It says Barca would hope to offload two of the six players plus €60million to get a deal done.

Arturo Vidal, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo, Junior Firpo, Rafinha and Jean-Clair Todibo are the players they are reportedly prepared to offer.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United continue to be linked with a move for Jack Grealish. The Sun reports the Premier League giants are stepping up their pursuit of the Aston Villa star in a £50m move.

- Staying at Old Trafford and Sport reports Marc Jurado has rejected a contract renewal from Barcelona and will instead join Manchester United.

- Talk around Philippe Coutinho continues. With Newcastle United potentially being taken over, Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the top job and Mundo Deportivo reports one of the Argentine coach's first wishes would be signing Coutinho from Barcelona.

- Manchester City are reportedly looking to strengthen their defence during the upcoming close season. Sport reports the Premier League side are willing to pay £30.6m (€35m) for Marseille defender Boubacar Kamara.

- Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng could be set for Bayern Munich exits. Kicker reports Bayern are preparing to sell the duo this close season, with both coming out of contract in 2021.

- Are Newcastle United looking for a new goalkeeper? Sport 24 reports they are looking at Benfica and Greece goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos, with the Primeira Liga club wanting £17.5m (€20m) for the shot-stopper.

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker believes he is being "harassed" after a report said he broke several lockdown rules.

Walker, 29, committed three breaches in 24 hours, The Sun reported, just weeks after apologising for hosting a party.

While the England defender took responsibility for his actions, Walker feels he is being hassled.

In a lengthy statement posted on Twitter on Thursday, Walker wrote: "I feel as though I have stayed silent for long enough.

"In light of the most recent article published about me and my family, I feel as though I have no choice but to address things publicly. I have recently gone through one of the toughest periods of my life, which I take full responsibility for.

"However, I now feel as though I am being harassed. This is no longer solely affecting me, but affecting the health of my family and my young children too.

"In relation to the events on Wednesday, I travelled to Sheffield to give my sister a birthday card and present, but also to speak to one of the few people I believe I can trust in my life. She hugged me to remind me how much she cares and that I am loved. What am I meant to do – push her away?

"I then travelled to my parents' house to pick up some home-cooked meals. Again it's been an extremely tough couple of months for them: everything I've gone through in my life they have gone through with me.

"What have my parents and sister done to deserve their privacy being invaded by photographers following me to their homes? I constantly feel as though I'm being followed.

"I don't even feel safe in the confines of my own home – why should they have to feel like that too? Who deserves that? I am in a privileged position as a role model and a professional athlete, and can assure you from my upbringing I do not take it for granted. But, at what stage do my feelings get taken into consideration?

"My family has been torn apart, this has been dragged through the press, and I ask: when is enough enough? At a time when the focus is understandably on Covid19, at what point does mental health get taken into consideration, an illness which affects every sufferer differently? I am a human being, with feelings of pain and upset just like everybody else.

"Being in the public eye as a professional athlete does not make you immune to this. It is sad, but I feel as though my life is being scrutinised without any context. I understand if people are upset or angry with me, but it was important for people to have a better understanding of my life. Thank you for taking the time to hear my feelings."

More than 270,700 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll in the United Kingdom exceeding 30,600.

Manchester City's record signing Rodri has been picking the brains of Pep Guardiola as he seeks to get to grips with the Premier League.

The 23-year-old Spain international has been a mainstay for Guardiola's men since joining City from Atletico Madrid last year, making 39 appearances in all competitions.

An elegant operator at the base of the midfield, Rodri has chipped in with some valuable goals – most notably a blistering strike from the edge of the box in a 4-1 win at Burnley and header that ultimately proved decisive in the 2-1 EFL Cup final win over Aston Villa.

However, the former Villarreal player has sometimes appeared ill at ease with the pace of the play around him, with Liverpool storming into a 25-point lead that left them on the brink of ending City's two-season reign as champions when the Premier League went on hiatus.

Whenever a resumption comes, Rodri feels he is working under the best man to learn and improve.

"To me, he is the best coach in the world. His success speaks for himself. Everything that he's won with all the clubs he's been at," he said.

"I have learnt lots of things from him, I couldn't say only one. He has lots of experience as a player and as a coach. It helps me a lot that he played in the same position as me.

"It's not easy for me as a young player, coming from LaLiga, to fit in the Premier League with such competition, [where it's] so strong physically, with great teams, but it has been an amazing experience this first season.

"I try to learn every day from him [Guardiola]. He has helped me a lot, especially tactically. It's been the first time I played alone as a holding midfielder, so I have to adapt to the new situation. I'm happy because I fit very well with the team and the club. I feel I'm growing every day."

When it comes to teething problems in the Premier League, Rodri cites a familiar problem for new imports.

"It's another style of football. You can't take a breath or relax during the 90 minutes, not even for one second," he said.

"I realised straight away that in this league you need to think really quickly. I tried to adapt my game in the first games of the season.

"When I got the pace of the Premier League, I also started adapting my game and my skills to the team.

"It wasn't easy, because we have lots of attacking players, but we need to defend as well. One of my biggest responsibilities in the team is specifically that part."

Rodri is playing a role in which Fernandinho has excelled under Guardiola.

However, form and fitness issues for specialists in the position have left the veteran Brazil international operating exclusively at centre-back this season.

"He has helped me a lot," Rodri said of Fernandinho. "He is now playing more often as a centre-back so that he can have a bigger picture of the game.

"He has helped me a lot from the back, [telling me] where to find the spaces.

"What I learnt the most from him is the experience he has. He's 35 years old, he has been at the club for seven seasons now. So I listen to him a lot and try to learn a lot from him."

He is used to accelerating away from defenders, but this weekend Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will be looking to speed past virtual Formula One cars instead.

The Argentinian, who is City's all-time record scorer, is the latest man to get behind the wheel for F1's Esports series, which has featured current drivers, other sports stars and celebrities.

Aguero will line up on the grid at Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix in a Red Bull, with Alex Albon, who won the Virtual Dutch Grand Prix last weekend, his team-mate.

"Motorsport is a great passion of mine, so to be given the opportunity to take part in the Virtual Spanish GP is very exciting for me," Aguero said.

"I have travelled to watch F1 races and test myself at track days, which have been exhilarating experiences.

"But this takes it to the next level and gives me the opportunity to race and compete against real F1 drivers. I can't wait."

Aguero follows England cricketers Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad, singer Liam Payne, Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and golfer Ian Poulter in taking part in the series.

There have been four races so far in a series set up to fill the void left by the absence of any actual F1 races due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Champions League delivered drama in droves last season.

With the 2019-20 competition on hold for now, it is the perfect opportunity to remember just how crazy Europe's premier competition became 12 months ago.

In a run of games from early March to early May, the Champions League churned out a succession of classic contests that will live long in the memory.

Here we look back at three months where Europe's grown-up football tournament started behaving like a devil-may-care teenager and was all the better for it.

March 5, 2019: Real Madrid 1 Ajax 4 (3-5 agg)

Ajax's team of fearless young stars produced one of the great Champions League campaigns.

Despite their impressive display in a 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Erik ten Hag's side could turn things around in the last 16 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated to their fearless and thrilling opponents.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

March 6, 2019: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Manchester United 3 (3-3 agg, United won on away goals)

A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, Manchester United made history at the Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

April 17, 2019: Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 (4-4 agg, Spurs win on away goals)

Tottenham scored through Son Heung-min in a tense, frenetic first leg. Crucially, as it turned out, City did not. They were not about to make the same mistake as Raheem Sterling thrashed an early opener past Hugo Lloris at the Eithad Stadium.

Son responded with two superb finishes of his own, leaving Pep Guardiola's side with a mountain to climb. They duly began to scale it. Bernardo Silva scored, Sterling scored again. There had only been 21 minutes played.

Something faintly resembling a normal football match broke out and Sergio Aguero finished emphatically to give City the lead in the tie for the first time in the 59th minute.

In a sight Ajax are now familiar with, Spurs looked spent until Fernando Llorente bundled them back into the lead on away goals. That advantage ultimately remained, but only after Sterling thought he had completed his hat-trick. Bedlam ensued until VAR showed Aguero was fractionally offside during the build-up.

May 7, 2019: Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg)

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute. Still, overturning the 3-0 advantage Barca had brought to Merseyside looked a tall order.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andy Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen.

May 8, Ajax 2 Tottenham 3 (3-3 agg, Spurs win on away goals)

As they did at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Ajax made a smooth start and led through their inspirational captain Matthijs de Ligt in the fifth minute.

Ziyech emphatically made it 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate, but Lucas changed the complexion of the contest as he was supported by Dele Alli's intelligent running from midfield and Llorente's robust accompaniment in attack.

Ziyech hit the post and Spurs centre-back Jan Vertonghen hit the bar. Amsterdam held its breath and Lucas proved to be the coolest man in the stadium in the 96th minute, sending his side through to face Liverpool in Madrid, where the Reds ultimately prevailed.

Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to swap Inter for Barcelona.

Martinez, though, has emerged as a target for Paris Saint-Germain.

But, LaLiga champions Barca reportedly remain calm about the situation.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA DON'T FEAR PSG AMID LAUTARO PURSUIT

Barcelona remain confident in their bid to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Martinez has been heavily linked with a move to the LaLiga champions, who view the Argentina international as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

Recent reports have claimed Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain have emerged as suitors but Barca believe Martinez is committed to moving to Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato says Milan have contacted Real Madrid about signing Luka Jovic. The Serbia forward has struggled since arriving from Eintracht Frankfurt at the start of 2019-20. The report claims Milan are ready to spend €40million, while a two-year loan deal with a redemption obligation could happen. Meanwhile, Tuttomercato says Milan are eyeing a €20m move for Lyon star Memphis Depay, who is out of contract in June 2021.

Mauricio Pochettino is poised to become Newcastle United's next manager, according to Le10Sport. The former Tottenham boss has been linked amid Newcastle's prospective takeover.

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City and Bayern Munich are set to clash over Leroy Sane. The Germany international has reportedly agreed to join the Bundesliga champions, however, City are insulted by the £35m (€39.9m) valuation.

Juventus have opened talks with Jorginho as Maurizio Sarri looks to reunite with the Chelsea midfielder in Turin, says ESPN.

Manchester United are considering the prospect of delaying their move for Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Mirror.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.