Pep Guardiola does not believe Manchester City need to reflect on previous Champions League exits or their failed Premier League title defence as they prepare for Real Madrid.

City are aiming to triumph in Europe's elite club competition for the first time in 2019-20 but must first get past Madrid, the 13-time winners, who they lead 2-1 after their last-16 first leg.

Recent seasons have seen Guardiola's side thrashed by Liverpool and lose agonisingly to Tottenham in the knockout stages, despite dominating the Premier League.

This term, however, Liverpool streaked clear in the league, leaving City to reflect on an underwhelming domestic campaign in which they also ceded their FA Cup title.

It was put to Guardiola that his team would not be short of motivating factors as they look to finally deliver the European crown, but the Catalan manager insists such contemplation is unnecessary.

"What I want is to do a good game," Guardiola said. "It's absolutely a final. For us, for Madrid, it's a final.

"The plan will be to avoid making mistakes and to play a football game like we [can].

"I think what happened in the past is not going to make you play better. What happened in the past is the past. Sometimes it is what it is. Accept it.

"It's life. It's not perfect, it doesn't work perfect for all of us, in our private lives, in our professional lives either.

"The motivation is to go through, to prove to ourselves we can do a good game and beat Real Madrid. That is the only thing you are able to do.

"What happened in the past will not give you an advantage or something special for the future, for the game against Real Madrid.

"It's only if we play a good game in all departments, with all the issues we have to work on in these two weeks, that is going to give the opportunity to win the game and go through."

Asked if his players have the required hunger, Pep replied with a laugh: "If they don't have it, we will have a problem. We will not go through.

"This game is about the desire. It's Real Madrid. We know the quality they have in all departments. The players know the European leagues, they know.

"They were sitting there watching the last finals of the Champions League when Madrid was there. They know it. It's not necessary to tell them something special.

"We are going to talk a little bit about what we are going to do in this game. It's nothing special from what we've done this season. The tactics are not going to win this game, the tactics or something special.

"It's the energy that we have inside all of us, the club, all of us. That will give us more opportunity to go through - nothing more than this.

"I think with this kind of game, the special games, you know the desire of every single player to try to win."

David Silva signs off as a Premier League star on Sunday with a simple message: I hope you enjoyed the show.

The Spanish playmaker has developed into one of English football's greatest imports, playing an integral role in bringing a new wave of trophy success to Manchester City.

As well as winning the World Cup and two European Championships with his country, Silva has landed four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and five EFL Cups with City.

The former Valencia player has given a spectacular return on the £26million he cost City a decade ago, during the Roberto Mancini era, but his time with the club is coming to an end.

The 34-year-old will face Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, before he and his team-mates turn their focus to the Champions League in August, looking to land the trophy that has eluded them.

Silva said: "I arrived here having just won the World Cup. It was a change in country, league, language and everything was quite tough, but my team-mates welcomed me and really looked after me and after a few months I settled in.

"I have always tried to do my absolute best, to always behave well and I have tried to work very hard too. I hope that people have enjoyed my football for all of these years."

At a club who have brought in some of the world's greatest talents, Silva has been a regular fixture in the side, a player whose creativity has repeatedly prised open opposition defences.

"When I look back at everything I have achieved I could never have imagined it, even in my wildest dreams," Silva said.

"When you are young you don't dream about all of this. You dream about becoming a footballer, a professional footballer, you dream of playing in the top flight. But you never think about all the things that you could possibly achieve."

Speaking on Friday, City boss Pep Guardiola described Silva as an "extraordinary" performer.

Silva has scored 60 goals in 308 Premier League appearances for City.

"The amount of games, the huge quality in the games he played, the titles he helped win... he's alongside five or six others who made this club what it is now," Guardiola said. "This club will always be grateful."

Pep Guardiola hopes to see progress from Manchester City against Norwich City as they prepare for their Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid.

EFL Cup winners City lost their Premier League crown and could not retain the FA Cup but may yet triumph in Europe's elite club competition for the first time.

Guardiola's side lead Madrid 2-1 after the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in February, meaning they need only protect their advantage to reach the eight-team finals tournament in Lisbon.

But the manager was concerned by the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal last weekend and still saw room for improvement in a 4-0 midweek thrashing of Watford as he considers his Champions League team selection.

With City on 97 league goals ahead of the Norwich game on the final day, Guardiola told reporters: "It's nice to score goals, but we cannot deny it is not enough to finish [higher].

"We are 18 points behind Liverpool, so we have to analyse what happened and every game must be a target. Maybe scoring 100 goals will help to win the game.

"Then we will see the players preparing the game against Madrid; this game against Norwich and the way they train this week, we are going to pay attention to prepare to play against Madrid.

"Every day will be an exam for me to see who is ready to play this game. I would say against Arsenal we were not ready. Against Watford, it was a little bit better, but we still need to improve."

Sergio Aguero has been a doubt for the Madrid game following knee surgery, yet Guardiola appeared to provide a boost as he named no injury absentees for that match.

"Everyone will be fit for Madrid, hopefully - except [Benjamin] Mendy who is suspended," said Guardiola, making no mention of City's record goalscorer.

Pep Guardiola offered glowing praise of Kevin De Bruyne but congratulated Jordan Henderson, the man who pipped the Manchester City midfielder to the Football Writers' Association's (FWA) Footballer of the Year award.

Henderson captained Liverpool to the Premier League title and earned more than a quarter of the FWA votes as a result.

De Bruyne - enjoying another sterling campaign at City - was among the closest contenders, and his contributions were acknowledged by Guardiola in a news conference ahead of the campaing-closing clash with Norwich City.

"[De Bruyne] speaks for himself with what he gives to our team and to the Premier League," the manager said. "It is not necessary to say what a fantastic player he is.

"At the same time, congratulations to the Liverpool captain for the award - he is a really good player."

De Bruyne could catch Thierry Henry's season record of 20 Premier League assists on Sunday, a tally he stands one shy of as things stand.

Guardiola added: "He enjoys to make assists. I would love for Kevin to score goals but he enjoys making assists too.

"I think in the last period he is enjoying taking free-kicks and penalties and taking this responsibility.

"The numbers are incredible - not just this season but also the year when we won 100 points. He was incredible and I will never forget how he played when we achieved this incredible milestone."

De Bruyne has been a key figure at the Etihad Stadium since his 2015 arrival, but he may need to be even more influential next season as captain David Silva departs.

"We will see [if he becomes the leader]," Guardiola said. "The players make these roles on and off the pitch - it depends on what they want, not the manager.

"I think these things are won with the respect on and off the pitch. You can't assign these roles. It comes naturally."

Silva is set to make his final Premier League appearance, and Guardiola said of his skipper: "[He is] extraordinary, the amount of games, the huge quality he's played with, the titles he helped [to win].

"He is another player alongside six or seven players who made this club what it is now."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits resurgent Manchester United must "step it up even more" next season if they hope to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City.

United are battling for third place and Champions League qualification heading into their final Premier League game of the season at Leicester City on Sunday.

Although finishing third would be a positive outcome given it appeared a distant prospect earlier this year, United's standards have generally been set much higher during the Premier League era.

Given it is arch-rivals Liverpool and neighbours City who have been sweeping all before them, any United celebrations at the end of this campaign are bound to be on the quiet side.

A 13-match unbeaten run in the top flight has taken United to the precipice of a Champions League return next season, but Solskjaer sounded a wary note. His side sit a hefty 33 points behind Liverpool after 37 games and 15 adrift of City.

"We've not ended up anywhere yet, so it's one more game to show we've become a better team," he said. "If we get a result against Leicester, I think people would say this journey has been a good one.

"But then again, this is not the end of the journey. If you get there, it's not like 'breathe and relax'. It's 'go again, go to the next one'.

"We know that there are two teams too far ahead of us, so we have to step it up even more."

United's recent league form has suggested they could be plausible challengers in 2020-21, but Solskjaer's former Red Devils team-mate Gary Neville has claimed they will need to recruit well, signing three or four top players, just to be in the hunt for a top-three finish next term.

Asked about Neville's comments, Solskjaer told a news conference: "There's no point now discussing what we need for next season. We need to just focus on the game against Leicester."

As for whether third place was good enough for a club of United's stature, Solskjaer was non-committal, indicating he would rather enter that debate after his team wrap up their Premier League and Europa League campaigns.

"Let's get this game out the way and get the third position and continue the growth and the journey this team's on," he said.

"Of course we've had some hard times this season, some setbacks, but we've shown and we've proven this is a team going places.

"And if we can finish this season with a trophy in Europe and third position, we can discuss that then."

Former Manchester City and Barcelona star Yaya Toure trained with League Two side Leyton Orient on Friday.

Photos of Toure wearing Orient training gear were posted on the London club's official social media account.

The Ivory Coast great, who won the Premier League three times with City and two LaLiga titles and the Champions League at Barcelona, is reportedly training with the team to get fit ahead of the new season.

After a stint at Olympiacos, Toure joined Chinese League One side Qingdao Huanghai last year and helped them earn promotion to the Super League.

Toure has been heavily linked with a move to Brazilian side Vasco da Gama and appeared in a campaign video alongside presidential candidate Luiz Roberto Leven Siano.

Leven Siano has claimed the 35-year-old signed a contract that will run from January 2021 until December 2022.

Borussia Dortmund are reportedly ready to let Jadon Sancho leave this close season, while Barcelona are eager to re-sign Ansu Fati.

Sancho, 20, has continually been linked with a move away from the Bundesliga club amid reported interest from several European giants.

And Dortmund may be prepared to let the attacker go.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WILLING TO SELL SANCHO

Borussia Dortmund are prepared to sell Sancho to Manchester United for the right price, according to The Independent.

However, the report says United's qualification for the Champions League remains a huge factor.

Ahead of a trip to Leicester City on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are third in the table, a point clear of their fifth-placed hosts.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are eager to re-sign Fati, according to the cover of Sport. The report says the LaLiga giants are keen to extend the teenager's deal amid interest from United, lifting the forward's release clause to €300million.

- Sport also reports that Inter are pressing to re-sign Lautaro Martinez, who has been linked to Barcelona. Martinez is coming out of contract in 2023.

- Manchester City are said to be getting close to agreeing a deal for Valencia star Ferran Torres. Cadena SER claims City want to include Yangel Herrera, who is on loan at Granada, in the deal to lower the cost.

- After struggling in his first season at Real Madrid, Luka Jovic has been linked with a move. The Shields Gazette reports Newcastle United are planning a £60m (€65.9m) loan move for the forward.

- Linked with more moves after signing Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, Chelsea could strengthen their defence. The Telegraph says the Premier League club have scouted Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez.

- Arsenal have received a boost in their apparent pursuit of Joelson Fernandes. TSF reports the 17-year-old is further away from re-signing with Sporting CP and Arsenal will move forward with a £41m (€45m) offer for the forward.

Sergio Ramos has been the face of Real Madrid, especially since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure in 2018.

Ramos highlighted his importance as Madrid dethroned Barcelona in LaLiga this season.

As the 34-year-old's current deal winds down, talks are reportedly underway to prolong his stay.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS REVEALS RENEWAL PLANS

Real Madrid captain Ramos wants €17million to renew his contract with the LaLiga champions, according to Diario Sport.

Ramos is out of contract in 2021 and there have been question marks as to whether the Spain skipper will sign a new deal at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The defender has called Madrid home since arriving from Sevilla in 2005.

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Thursday's Diario Sport claims Barcelona are determined to sign Manchester City defender Eric Garcia. The 19-year-old left Barca for City in 2017. It comes as Premier League outfit City push for a swap deal involving full-back Joao Cancelo and Barca's Nelson Semedo.

- Could Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic reunite with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at Milan? According to reports, Fali Ramadani – agent to both Jovic and Rebic – met with Milan directors Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara on Wednesday. Jovic has struggled since leaving Eintracht for Madrid at the start of the season, with the Serbia international linked to Milan, Napoli, Leicester City and Chelsea among others. Rebic, meanwhile, is on a two-season loan from Eintracht.

Manchester United are interested in signing Adrien Rabiot from Juventus, claims Calciomercato. Fellow Premier League teams Everton and Newcastle United are also reportedly interested.

- Sky Sport Italia and Sportitalia report Victor Osimhen is set to be presented as a Napoli player on Friday. The Lille forward had previously been the subject of reported interest from the likes of Liverpool and United. Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano also says talks are ongoing for Napoli to sign Jeremie Boga from Sassuolo.

- According to RAC1 journalist Gerard Romero, Barca are eyeing Villarreal defender Pau Torres. The 23-year-old – also linked to City – reportedly has a €50m release clause.

City have offered Yangel Herrera to Valencia in an attempt to lure winger Ferran Torres to Manchester, says Gols Media. City are looking to replace Leroy Sane following his Bayern Munich switch.

Milan have contacted the agent of Brescia star Sandro Tonali, claims Sportmediaset. While Inter remain the frontrunners, their city rivals are not giving up on the Italy midfielder.

- Mundo Deportivo says Chelsea are dreaming of signing Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen amid doubts over current number one Kepa Arrizabalaga. Chelsea have also been linked to Atletico Madrid star Jan Oblak.

Leroy Sane insists he retains a solid relationship with Pep Guardiola despite leaving Manchester City for Bayern Munich.

Germany winger Sane moved to Bayern for an €49million (£44.5m) earlier this month, as opposed to remaining in Manchester for the conclusion of City's Premier League and Champions League campaigns.

He only featured once during "Project Restart", making an 11-minute substitute cameo in a 5-0 win over Burnley on June 22 - only his second appearance in an injury-plagued campaign.

Indeed, despite scoring pivotal goals in wins over Liverpool and Manchester United last season, Sane struggled to hold down a regular starting place during City's triumphant 2018-19 run-in, with Guardiola often challenging the player to improve.

Nevertheless, the 24-year-old maintains there are no hard feelings between himself and his former boss.

"Our relationship is good," he told Sport Bild. "There was never a point when one was tired of the other. 

"I am grateful for everything he taught me. Pep Guardiola helped me to a very high level. 

"He is very meticulous and wants to advance the players every day. He is persistent when it comes to his tactics - but that's positive, it helped me. 

"We even lived in the same building [in Manchester], so we saw each other often."

Sane concedes he could even run into similar problems at Bayern, with Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry excelling in the wide attacking roles under Hansi Flick.

Nevertheless, he views such stellar competition for places as a positive.

"Of course I want to play, but I don't demand a regular place in every game," he said.

"No player in the world can play every game and reach their highest level. I have my goals, but I'm zero point zero against rotation. 

"This helps the team to get a good freshness. Serge, King and I - that sounds very good to me."

Sane had been heavily linked with a move to Bayern before a cruciate knee ligament injury during City's Community Shield triumph over Liverpool last August put those plans on ice.

The former Schalke youngster expressed his gratitude to Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic for keeping the deal on track over those difficult months of recovery.

"He was behind the transfer from the first moment and was not put off by anything. I'm grateful for that," Sane added.

"He showed me how the club works, which team it has in mind, the way looks. 

"I immediately noticed: I know a lot of boys here, I fit in very well here. And I wanted to be part of the successful Bayern path."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still waiting for Barcelona, while Manchester City could be set to sign an attacker.

Aubameyang's future at Arsenal is uncertain, with the star forward out of contract next year.

And the Gabon international seems to be biding his time.

 

TOP STORY – AUBAMEYANG WAITS FOR BARCELONA OFFER

Aubameyang is prepared to wait for an offer from Barcelona amid their apparent interest in Arsenal's top scorer, according to Sky Sport and Sport.

Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo reports the 31-year-old is considered an alternative if Barca cannot land Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

Aubameyang has scored 25 goals in 42 games for Arsenal this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Valencia attacker Ferran Torres looks like he has decided on his next move. Sport Bild reports the 20-year-old has agreed to join Manchester City over Borussia Dortmund. The report says the Bundesliga club considered Torres as a potential replacement for Jadon Sancho, who is linked with a move away.

- Following some less-than-convincing performances from Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea are apparently eyeing a goalkeeper this close season. The Manchester Evening News reports Chelsea are prepared to more than double Dean Henderson's Manchester United wages, with the shot-stopper having impressed on loan at Sheffield United this season. The Daily Mail says Henderson is set for talks with Manchester United next week.

- Atalanta star Duvan Zapata could be set for a move. CalcioMercato reports Juventus are interested in the striker, who it says was the subject of a €50million offer from a foreign club.

- Liverpool and Manchester City are reportedly interested in Sevilla defender Diego Carlos. Goal reports the LaLiga club have received two offers from England for the 27-year-old, although from which clubs remains unknown.

- Loris Karius seems set to make a permanent exit from Liverpool. Goal says the Premier League champions want €6.6m (£6m) for the goalkeeper amid interest from Marseille.

- Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is on track for a move from Southampton. The Telegraph reports Everton's bid of around £25m for the midfielder has been accepted, but Tottenham have also submitted an offer.

Pep Guardiola admits he is bewildered by Manchester City's inconsistency this season, making it hard for him to lavish praise on the club's top performers.

Within minutes of the 4-0 win at Watford on Tuesday, a grim-faced Guardiola made it clear he was still irked by the FA Cup semi-final loss to Arsenal.

He accused City of playing at walking pace for the first half of the Arsenal game, and over the course of a number of interviews his consistent message was that the display at Watford met the "minimum" standard he expected in terms of effort.

The showing against Arsenal clearly did not, and Guardiola is flummoxed by why City have lost the dominant edge of their 2017-18 and 2018-19 championship-winning seasons.

Beating Watford gave City a fourth successive Premier League win, but that represents their best run in the competition this season, a far cry from the sequences they have been used to stringing together.

And although Raheem Sterling has scored 19 Premier League goals from the wing this term, Guardiola was cautious about lavishing the England star with great praise, given that collectively City have fallen so far short.

Pressed on Sterling's achievements, Guardiola told a news conference: "I don't have any complaints. I love when the players can achieve their desires and score goals and have this commitment to score goals.

"But Raheem has to know, like all of us have to know, that we are far away from Liverpool.

"I think it's the first time we've been able to win four games in a row in the Premier League.

"And we were able two seasons ago to make 18 [successive wins], last season make 14. This was the first time we were able to streak four games in a row winning.

"That means how poor was our consistency this season because we are the same people, we are the same guys.

"And it's happened because something was wrong and I have to discover what for next season."

Guardiola told BBC Sport that the player of the season awards should go to Liverpool players this term, rather than his own stars, such as Kevin De Bruyne.

Although the gap to Liverpool came down to 15 points after City's win, Guardiola's team were trounced in the title race and their Catalan manager knows it.

"It's the business of all of us, not just one player or 11 players. I never point at one player. I trust a lot with the courage, with the commitment for all the team," Guardiola said.

"It would be easy for the manager to say, 'Okay, we lost because of this player', I put it out, but this is not the situation, this is not the reality."

Pep Guardiola was relieved to see the hunger back in his Manchester City team as they won 4-0 at Watford in the Premier League. 

Losing on Saturday to Arsenal in their FA Cup semi-final came as a major blow to City, with Guardiola unhappy with the performance, particularly the first-half showing at Wembley. 

After that game, Guardiola said it was "the way we lost" that hurt him more than the result, questioning the appetite among his players for the battle. 

He was more satisfied with the display at Watford, though, as two goals from Raheem Sterling were followed by Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte getting on the scoresheet. 

Guardiola told BBC Radio Five Live: "The minimum, we did it today." 

The City manager explained what he demands of his players, saying: "We can win and we can lose. In your career as a football player, you lose more games than you win, but also always you have to finish a game and go into a locker room and say, 'I did everything to win the game. I'm exhausted and I did everything to win the game'.

"And when this doesn't happen, we cannot be proud of ourselves."

Guardiola stressed even Sterling, after another outstanding season individually, would not be finishing the league campaign with a great sense of accomplishment. 

"He's quality. The personal achievements have always related to how we have done in the Premier League and we've finished second, far away from the champions," Guardiola said. "So that's why not even Raheem must be happy with the season we have done in the Premier League." 

Guardiola also said the Professional Footballers' Association's player of the year award must go to a Liverpool star this season, ruling out City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne as a serious contender for the honour. 

Foden, who stroked home City's third goal at Watford from close range, said: "We weren't like ourselves against Arsenal. I don't think the energy was there from minute one and we were disappointed and we wanted to be back on track today. 

"I think we did that well. You could see we were pressing from the front and back to our normal selves. 

"I feel good at the moment. I'm performing quite well. I just want to keep going and improving. 

"There's still a far way to go for me to be a regular starter. I'm going to try and take it into the rest of this year and keep going from there."

Raheem Sterling and Manchester City found the perfect hangover cure as they shook off their Wembley frustrations to beat Watford 4-0 and equal a Premier League record.

A double from Sterling and second-half goals from Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte made it a Vicarage Road rout as City threw darts at Watford's goal, just as they did when winning 8-0 against the same opponents in September.

The outcome meant City matched a Premier League record for the most goals against a single opponent in the same season, equalling the 12 that Blackburn Rovers put past Nottingham Forest in 1995-96 and that Tottenham plundered against Wigan in the 2009-10 campaign.

And three days after losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals, it was a reminder that City's season is far from over, with manager Pep Guardiola no doubt telling his players he expects performances from them leading into next month's Champions League resumption.

When these teams last met, City sped 5-0 ahead inside the first 20 minutes, giving newly reappointed Hornets boss Quique Sanchez Flores, in his second spell at the club, plenty to chew over.

Flores was sacked in December, his successor Nigel Pearson was dismissed on Sunday, and it was former West Ham and Crystal Palace midfielder Hayden Mullins picking the team for this reunion with City as an interim head coach.

Watford, three points clear of the relegation zone going into the final week of the season, must have approached the City game with modest ambitions, given they also lost 6-0 to Guardiola's team in last year's FA Cup final.

Sterling made the breakthrough in the 31st minute, given far too much freedom in the Watford penalty area to smash high into the left corner beyond Ben Foster.

The England forward grabbed his second in the 40th minute, winning a penalty when Will Hughes lunged in and then tucking home the rebound after his spot-kick was skilfully parried by Foster.

Gabriel Jesus looked like stretching the lead inside 30 seconds of the second half but failed to beat Foster after running clear, before the goalkeeper, Watford's most impressive performer by far, kept out a thumping drive from Sterling.

City had won their last 12 games against Watford across all competitions by a 46-6 aggregate, and Foster needed to save well on the hour to deny Kevin De Bruyne when the Belgian's free-kick looked destined for the left corner.

But Foster continued to be left exposed and despite parrying well from Sterling when City came forward again, the ball bounced out for Foden to roll home.

Laporte headed in the fourth from De Bruyne's free-kick, before City took their foot off the gas, sparing their hosts further embarrassment and damage in the goal-difference column, which could be key in Watford's fight against relegation.

City thought they had a last-gasp fifth goal but Jesus was fractionally offside when he headed home, meaning there would be no outright Premier League record.

Manchester City are set to make a splash in the transfer market and defence is the area in the spotlight.

City struggled defensively in the absence of injured star Aymeric Laporte following Vincent Kompany's exit, while there are doubts over John Stones' future in Manchester.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake are reportedly high on Pep Guardiola's wish list as he attempts to strengthen his squad after watching Liverpool coast to the Premier League title.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOTIFY NAPOLI OF KOULIBALY INTENT

Manchester City have informed Napoli they are ready to make an offer for star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Pep Guardiola has set his sights on Koulibaly, who has also been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

City are willing to bid €65million (£58m) but Napoli are still holding out for €100m (£90m).

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying in Manchester and Sky Sports says City are in talks with Bournemouth over the signing of another defender – Nathan Ake. The Guardian claims City are poised to beat neighbours United and Chelsea to the Netherlands international.

- Sky Germany reports Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has agreed terms with Chelsea as he moves closer to arriving at Stamford Bridge. Havertz has been linked to Madrid, United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona but he appears set to join Chelsea. Win Sports TV journalist Pipe Sierra, meanwhile, claims Chelsea and Leverkusen have agreed an €85m (£77m) fee plus €15m (£13.5m) in bonuses.

Juventus are eyeing former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino as a possible replacement for head coach Maurizio Sarri, according to La Stampa.

- The Daily Mail says Southampton are set to sign Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu. The 21-year-old has reportedly attracted interest from United and Atletico Madrid.

Theo Hernandez has no plans to leave Milan amid interest from Ligue 1 champions PSG, reports Calciomercato. Hernandez is enjoying a fine season with a resurgent Rossoneri team under Stefano Pioli.

- Gianluca Di Marzio claims there is a €60m agreement between Napoli and Lille for Victor Osimhen but the Serie A outfit still has to resolve matters with the forward's new agent.

Pep Guardiola fired a barb at the Arsenal hierarchy as the Manchester City manager's irritation with other Premier League clubs showed little sign of abating.

In the aftermath of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturning City's two-season ban from UEFA competitions last week, Guardiola gave an impassioned address during which he accused other clubs in England's top-flight of "whispering" about his own.

He specifically took aim at eight Premier League clubs - Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Leicester, Wolves and Burnley – who are understood to have written to CAS urging a speedy decision so that City's appeal did not carry over into next season, given the knock-on implications it would have had for anyone aiming to seal European qualification.

City were beaten 2-0 on the field by Arsenal in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, a triumph masterminded by his former assistant Mikel Arteta that Guardiola was happy to pay due credit to at a news conference to preview Tuesday's trip to Watford.

However, amid a report by the Daily Mail claiming City believe Arsenal to be the ringleaders among that dissenting group, the former Barcelona boss hinted at a feud that could be set to rumble on behind the scenes.

"I said after Arsenal, we didn't play first half against Arsenal like the second," he said, with the Gunners having persuaded Arteta to leave City and succeed Unai Emery last December.

"That was the only regret. We wanted to play 90 minutes like the second half. But after we were beaten, we shake hands.

"The opponents always deserve my respect and credit. And Arsenal I have all the respect for what they are on the pitch - not much off the pitch, but on the pitch a lot. Congratulations to them and good luck in the final."

City being cleared to compete in the Champions League next season has only accelerated the rumour mill around an expected close-season rebuild, with a substantial gap to Premier League winners Liverpool needing to be bridged.

Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake and Valencia winger Ferran Torres head the list of those linked with moves to the Etihad Stadium, while Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and Oleksandr Zinchenko could be among those dispatched to pastures new.

Nevertheless, Guardiola expects the vast majority of his squad to be in situ for next season.

"It depends on the players we'll have next season, it depends on the way we adapt, the way we attack and defend," he said when pondering his capacity to refresh when taking charge of a fifth season at the same club for the first time.

"All of us have to freshen up our minds and bodies to continue to be competitive in all the competitions. If you bring in eight or nine players, which is impossible, you change a lot, the mentality, the way you want to play.

"I think 80 or 85 or 90 per cent of the team will be the same, but it depends on the people who are here."

Those whose futures are in the balance might have matters decided one way or another by City's Champions League campaign, which resumes on August 7 when Real Madrid visit Manchester aiming to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit and reach the quarter-finals in Lisbon.

Following their concluding Premier League game against Norwich City next Sunday, Guardiola will oversee a period of intensive preparation for a season-defining assignment – where a suspension for Los Blancos' talismanic skipper Sergio Ramos could yet prove key

"We are to going to train in a specific way to play against Real Madrid, we are going to try to maintain our rhythm in our training sessions," he said.

"We are going to remember what Madrid is, see the games they've played after the lockdown. They are going to play without Sergio Ramos, so we are going look at how Eder Militao and [Raphael] Varane joined up in the games they were together.

"Are they going to play [Eden] Hazard or Vinicius, or play [Luka] Modric? Play [Marco] Asensio, or [Federico] Valverde on the right side? We are going to see the way they play and prepare the game, with the advantage we have the time to prepare specific things about them."

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