Manchester City are reportedly ready to give up two players in a deal for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move from Naples, with several of Europe's biggest clubs apparently keen to land the centre-back.

And City may know who they are ready to offer up as part of a deal.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARED TO GIVE UP TWO PLAYERS FOR KOULIBALY

Manchester City could use Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deal for Napoli star Koulibaly, according to The Sun.

The report says the Serie A club have already contacted City about Otamendi and Zinchenko.

Napoli are said to want €100million for Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara over recent weeks. However, ESPN reports the Premier League champions will not pursue a deal for the former Barcelona star.

- Speculation around Eric Garcia's future continues. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Manchester City defender is motivated to return to Barcelona, but the Premier League club have offered the 19-year-old a bumper contract, with his current deal expiring in 2022.

- Jonathan Ikone is seemingly attracting some interest. Le 10 Sport reports Chelsea and Inter are interested in the Lille forward. Ikone scored three goals and provided six assists in 28 Ligue 1 games in 2019-20.

- Will Roma get a deal done for Chris Smalling? Gianluca Di Marzio says Roma are in negotiations with Manchester United to make the defender's move permanent. The report says Roma's offer of €3m (£2.7m) to extend the loan for a season before a €15m (£13.4m) offer to make the move permanent has been deemed too low.

- Mesut Ozil wants to see out his contract at Arsenal, with his deal expiring in 2021. The Sun reports the attacker has told friends he will only consider playing in MLS or the Turkish Super Lig after he leaves Arsenal.

- Paris Saint-Germain could be looking to strengthen while weakening one of their Ligue 1 rivals. Foot Mercato reports PSG are interested in Lyon and France defender Leo Dubois.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri agreed with Pep Guardiola's assessment that facing Atalanta was "like going to the dentist".

Sarri's side face a huge test on Saturday when they host Atalanta, who are third in Serie A and nine points behind leaders Juve with seven games remaining.

Manchester City manager Guardiola compared playing Atalanta to going to the dentist, having beaten and drawn with the Italian side in the Champions League group stage.

Sarri agreed with Guardiola's description as he expects a difficult clash against Gian Piero Gasperini's men.

"It's an important moment of the season. Atalanta are not a surprise. They have done really well throughout the season, particularly away from home," he told a news conference. 

"They are a really difficult opponent. Atalanta have been a difficult opponent for everyone for a long time now.

"Guardiola gave the best description of them. It's like going to the dentist. You can end up well but you feel the pain. It's a really difficult team to face."

Sarri will come up against Guardiola in the Champions League quarter-finals if their respective teams get through their last-16 ties.

But the Italian said his focus was on Serie A before a clash with Lyon, who won the first leg of their tie 1-0 in France.

"I am not interested. We have only one goal now – the league. And after the league we have Lyon," Sarri said.

"It's really far away now so we don't have to waste any energy [thinking about it]."

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to fight for the Champions League "until the last effort they have in their bodies" after Friday's draw mapped out a devilishly tough route to glory.

The deposed Premier League champions hold a 2-1 last-16 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the August 7 return at the Etihad Stadium.

The winners of that tie will take on the victors of Lyon versus Juventus – the Ligue 1 outfit 1-0 to the good at the midway point – at UEFA's mini-tournament to decide the coronavirus-impacted Champions League in Lisbon on August 15.

Whichever team progresses from that quarter-final will meet the team remaining from Barcelona or Napoli and Bayern Munich or Chelsea.

"All of us want to try, to be ourselves in the game against Real Madrid, to try to defend really well and suffer the bad moments," Guardiola said ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

"Try to impose our game and our football, try to score our goals and defend the game against Real Madrid. It is incredible what [Madrid] have done in this competition, nobody has done it."

If City finally claim the prize Madrid have lifted on a record 13 occasions, they will do so in unique circumstances heightened by the reality of a trying season on and off the field.

Guardiola's team could be facing up to their final European game for two years next month, if the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides to uphold a two-season ban for contravening UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules. A verdict in the case is due on Monday.

The Champions League, along with the FA Cup, offers the chance to triumphantly salvage a campaign where they meekly surrendered the Premier League title to Liverpool.

This crescendo of events is something Guardiola believes has got through to his players.

"I feel the motivation," he said. "I have the feeling from my players and the club that we have, in the next four weeks, something that is not coming back again.

"Of course, we have the chance to fight but the situation that we have is not coming back again.

"I think the big clubs don't miss these chances to try until the last effort they have in their bodies."

The situation will certainly not come back for club great David Silva.

City's veteran playmaker is set to leave at the end of his contract and, as a World Cup and two-time European Championship winner with Spain, he is seeking the biggest honour to have eluded him over the course of a decorated career.

"David has won everything," Guardiola said. "The World Cup, European Championships with Spain, the Premier League and all the titles you can achieve except the Champions League.

"All of the players want to try but the younger ones, maybe they think they have more chances.

"Maybe David might go back to Europe with another top club and have another chance. But I'm pretty sure after one decade in this club, he will try."

With a top-four place in the Premier League now guaranteed – whatever that comes to mean – Guardiola's main challenge for the rest of the campaign is getting Silva and the rest to next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal and the Madrid match in prime condition.

He concedes this is a balancing act but will not shirk from giving Premier League minutes to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, even if sight of the star midfielder receiving a heavy knock during the closing stages of Wednesday's 5-0 win over Newcastle United caused understandable disquiet among the City faithful.

"That's part of football. The important thing is they are fit," he added.

"We cannot say one or two games, don't play and then come back. Sometimes the players who play regularly are in better condition for the important games.

"Arsenal is an important point but it's important to keep momentum and rhythm to the way we play."

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed it will announce a decision on Manchester City and their appeal against a Champions League ban on July 13.

The Switzerland-based body will confirm the verdict at 10:30 local time (08:30 GMT) on Monday, it said in a statement on Friday.

City's hearing at CAS began on June 8 and concluded two days later, with proceedings having been conducted by video call.

The Premier League club are seeking to overturn UEFA's decision to ban them from European competition for the next two seasons and fine them €30million (£27.2m) after finding them guilty of "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

City have persistently denied wrongdoing in relation to the matter, which stemmed from a series of articles published by Der Spiegel in November 2018, drawing on information purportedly obtained by the whistleblower Football Leaks.

"The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position," read a statement at the time from City, who UEFA said had "failed to cooperate" with the investigation.

Speaking on Friday, City manager Pep Guardiola said he had faith in the club's chances of success in their appeal.

"I'm so confident because I saw the arguments of the club that next season we will be there [in Champions League]," he said.

In an interview with HLN, star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne suggested he might be happy to stay at City in the event of a reduction to a one-year ban, although a two-year Champions League absence would force him to consider his options.

"I'm just waiting," he said. "The club told us they are going to appeal, and they are almost 100 per cent sure they are right. That's why I'm waiting to see what will happen. I trust my team.

"Once the decision is made, I will review everything. Two years would be long, but in the case of one year I might see."

Pep Guardiola still feels Bernardo Silva is one of the most special footballers he has ever coached despite the midfielder's dip in form this season – something for which the Manchester City boss takes his share of responsibility. 

Silva was voted City's player of the season as he and his team-mates swept to a domestic treble in 2018-19, but his performances this time around have been indicative of a general malaise, with Liverpool storming clear of their rivals to claim the Premier League title. 

The Portugal international has featured infrequently in the right-sided attacking midfield position he occupied for a chunk of last term, with Kevin De Bruyne back to full fitness and in prime form. 

Similarly adept on the right-hand side of attack, Silva has found his path blocked by Riyad Mahrez and, more recently, Phil Foden. 

The previous campaign concluded with the former Monaco man being named player of the tournament as Portugal claimed the inaugural Nations League title, and fatigue has not been difficult to spot in his work at times. 

A Football Association ban for tweeting a racially insensitive cartoon to team-mate Benjamin Mendy placed Silva in hot water off the field and, speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, Guardiola conceded a downturn from the playmaker has been obvious. 

"That's true maybe he didn't play as much as last season," he said. 

"This season, maybe it was my fault or maybe Phil was more involved and Riyad maintained his level and the other players played good too. 

"They know the competition they have with each other, but my admiration, respect, especially my opinion about him, nothing has changed. 

"He's a special player for me. One of the most special players I had in my career as a manager, the relationship I have with him." 

Guardiola is particularly impressed by Silva's acceptance of his situation – a stark contrast to when his manager said the City team last season was "Bernardo plus 10" – and is confident the 25-year-old knows what he must do to turn things around.

"He's a guy who doesn’t change his mood whether he plays or doesn't play," he said. "There are players that just are happy when they play and they smile at me and smile at the backroom staff when they play. 

"When they don't play, they make you feel they are not happy and they behave like a little, little child. 

"Bernardo is completely opposite. He's a mature man. He's a man who knows exactly what has happened, how this moment is and always he's the same person. 

"That's why he is an incredible person for me to work with and always I will be grateful. 

"In the time we spend together, the only thing I want is to help him to come back at his best level. If there is one player in this team who I would give help and support, it's Bernardo Silva. He's the first on the list." 

Mahrez scored his 10th Premier League goal of the season during Wednesday's 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United and Friday marked the two-year anniversary of his £60million arrival from Leicester City. 

Guardiola is impressed by the Algeria international's performances but suggested he could sometimes use some of Silva's good grace. 

"He's an incredible player, fantastic self-confidence," he added. "He is a guy who always creates something special, in assists and goals. 

"We are delighted to have him and hopefully he can help us when he plays and when he doesn't play. Hopefully I can help him to improve this detail." 

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will not recover from his knee injury in time to face Real Madrid in the Champions League, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

Aguero sustained meniscus damage during last month's 5-0 Premier League win over Burnley and was operated on by Guardiola's preferred surgeon, Dr Ramon Cugat.

A four-to-six-week recovery period appeared to place Aguero in contention for the August 7 second leg with Madrid, which UEFA this week announced was clear to take place behind closed doors at the Etihad Stadium.

City hold a 2-1 advantage over the 13-time European champions but, after Friday's draw paired the winner of their last-16 tie against Lyon or Juventus, they will have to try and seal a place at the final stages in Lisbon without their all-time record goalscorer.

"I told you many times no. [Defintely] no," Guardiola told a news conference when asked about Aguero's prospects.

Friday's draw mapped out City's potential route to glory, with prospective semi-final opponents coming from a quarter-final between Napoli or Barcelona and Chelsea or Bayern Munich. 

Nevertheless, Guardiola insists City must not look past an in-form Madrid who appear set to wrest LaLiga from his beloved Barca's grasp. 

"We play against Real Madrid," he said. "If we think about the next step the kings of this competition, Real Madrid, will put us out.

"There is not one person who knows Real Madrid better than me, their potential and history, and we have to play this game.

"I saw the draw maybe two or three hours after it was made. I’ve got Brighton [in the Premier League on Saturday] and continue to prepare for Arsenal [in the semi-finals of the FA Cup].

"After that, we have two games and a potential [FA Cup] final to prepare for Real Madrid. That's all I have in my mind." 

City's bid for an elusive Champions League crown might be thrown into sharper focus on Monday if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) uphold their two-season ban from UEFA competitions for violating Financial Fair Play regulations.

Guardiola reiterated his belief that City will be cleared by CAS and, irrespective of the verdict, he does not feel events in a Swiss court room will fuel his players.

"The intention is every season to play in the Champions League as best as possible, it's not about Monday," he said.

"On Monday, I'm so confident because I know and hear the arguments of the club. Next season we will be there and after I will give my opinion and the club will give a statement."

City head to Brighton and Hove Albion looking to snap a run of three successive away defeats in the Premier League.

Guardiola could once again call upon Benjamin Mendy after revealing the left-back sat out matches against Southampton and Newcastle United over the past week due to "muscular issues". 

Real Madrid could face a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo before a Clasico showdown with Barcelona after Friday's draw mapped out the final stages of this season's Champions League.

There are plenty of pieces to fall into place before that scenario is possible, with Madrid nursing a 2-1 deficit ahead of their last-16 return against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium next month.

The winner of the City-Madrid tie will face the victor from Lyon versus Juventus when the reformatted one-off final stages begin in Lisbon from August 12.

Ronaldo and his team-mates are 1-0 down following the away leg against their Ligue 1 opponents.

Those teams will do battle for a spot in quarter-final one, the winner of which will take on the team to emerge from quarter-final three, which was drawn as Napoli or Barcelona versus Chelsea or Bayern Munich.

Fresh from their domestic double, Bayern are strongly placed having won 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in the initial match, although Lionel Messi and his colleagues have their encounter on a knife edge following a 1-1 draw at Stadio San Paolo.

The other quarter-finals comprise teams who have already booked their spots in Lisbon.

PSG overturned a first-leg deficit to knockout Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 and face the similarly free-scoring Atalanta.

The winner of that tie will take on RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid, who overcame respective Premier League opposition in the form of Tottenham and holders Liverpool in the previous stage.

Champions League quarter-final draw in full:

QF1) Real Madrid or Manchester City v Lyon or Juventus
QF2) RB Leipzig v Atletico Madrid
QF3) Napoli or Barcelona v Chelsea or Bayern Munich
QF4) Atalanta v PSG

Champions League semi-finals

Winner QF1 v Winner QF3
Winner QF 2 v Winner QF4

Carl Robinson hopes Wolves keep star duo Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez, but the former midfielder knows the Premier League club may have to sell in order to improve their squad. 

Traore and Jimenez are reportedly attracting plenty of interest as Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves continue to challenge the Premier League's elite since their return to the top flight in 2018-19. 

Wolves, who finished seventh last season, are sixth through 34 matches this term and flirting with another European berth thanks to Traore, Jimenez and a star-studded squad, including Portugal internationals Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio. 

Jimenez – linked to Manchester United and Juventus – has scored 15 Premier League goals and tallied six assists in 2019-20, while reported Liverpool, Manchester City and Barcelona target Traore has set up nine goals and netted four of his own. 

While Traore and Jimenez could leave Molineux in big-money deals, Robinson insisted how Wolves reinvest transfer funds would be crucial in the club's bid to maintain their position and crack the Premier League's top five.

"The reality is, they've played fantastically well for Wolves this season, so there is going to be top clubs sniffing around them," Robinson, who made over 150 appearances for Wolves between 1995 and 2002, told Stats Perform News. 

"Wolves' decision will be: can they afford to keep them, can they afford to turn down these huge transfer fees and if they do and say we're going to turn down £70million for Traore, how can they invest and build the squad from where they are at the moment? 

"If they can't, they might have to look at the £70m and Nuno will ask the question, how much of that £70m can I have invested in the football squad because our starting point is lower than where we are today. That's why sometimes, unfortunately, managers lose jobs because their starting point is a lot lower, but expectations go higher based upon the club getting £70m and Nuno is spending £20m. 

"I hope they keep those players at Wolves because if they don't, there will be two major gaping holes. But I also understand football is a business and if they get £150m for two players, I'm not sure too many teams could turn that down. 

"You could bring in four or five £30m players. If you look at your squad, sometimes you have to go sideways, or backwards, to go forwards. But do it for the right reasons, do it because you're selling one of your key players knowing you have a youngster coming through in maybe 12 months.  

"That's an understandable plan you have as a club. That's why the executives and big boys are paid the big money, because they have to make major decisions. The buck stops with them. If they get it wrong, they lose their jobs." 

Wolves have come a long way since Chinese conglomerate group Fosun International purchased the club in 2016 – progressing from a mid-table side in the Championship to FA Cup semi-finalists last season and Europa League participants in 2019-20. 

Santo's side are six points adrift of fifth-placed Manchester United with four Premier League matches remaining, while Wolves – back in Europe for the first time since 1980 – are preparing to resume their Europa League last 16-tie against Olympiacos next month after the competition was suspended in March due to coronavirus following the 1-1 draw in Greece. 

"When you have Mexico's number nine, when you have three Portuguese international players, the Portugal international goalkeeper in your team, when you have four or five other players who cost you £10-15m each, when you have Adama Traore, who you've managed to buy and develop and now maybe possibly on the verge of a move to Liverpool for £70-80m, you have a standard of players that are of high quality," Robinson, now head coach of Australian team Newcastle Jets, said.  

"When you have better players, they are able to win you games in moments where games are tight. Games are tight in the Premier League especially. The investment has been fantastic, not only on the field but off it.

"They've tried to regain some of what Wolverhampton is about – it's a good old honest, working men's town. It's not the city, the bright lights of London, it's Wolverhampton. When you go there, you see it and you're proud to play for Wolves. But you're only proud to play for them if you understand what they're about. 

"They've managed to be successful and compete at the top half of the Premier League. That's very important and it's great, it's got the interest back in Wolves. It's good when they see their rivals – Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom especially – languishing.

"Their issue now, and it's a good issue to have, is to maintain where they are and keep up with the big boys, they need to invest at the minimum level to what they've already invested. We see football clubs sometimes going out of business and drop. Hopefully Wolves will never be at the stage because of the continued investment. 

"Most clubs in football are feeder clubs and I'll say this with the greatest respect to other than four or five teams, and even Premier League champions Liverpool had to sell Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho. They might have to sell either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah because there are clubs bigger that can pay the money.

"As a club, you know if you're successful you will lose your key players. How you replace them is key. 

"Wolves are in a great place. Hopefully they can stabilise where they are for the next three, four or five years and then continually try to crack the top five or six, which won't be easy." 

Manchester City are reportedly eager to sign Valencia star Ferran Torres, while there is set to be further movement at Chelsea.

Torres, 20, has been linked to numerous European giants after impressing at Valencia, where he came through the youth system.

City are seeking to replace Leroy Sane, who has joined Bayern Munich, and may have found their man.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY EAGER TO SIGN TORRES

Manchester City have made signing Valencia star Torres a priority, according to Cadena SER.

Contracted at Valencia until 2021, Torres has been linked with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.

Torres has scored six goals and provided seven assists in 41 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner set to arrive, Chelsea could be set for further moves. Sport Bild reports defender Antonio Rudiger is in contact with Germany team-mate Kai Havertz as he tries to convince the Bayer Leverkusen star to head to Stamford Bridge.

- Staying at Chelsea and the Daily Express says Frank Lampard is looking to sell numerous players. It claims midfielder N'Golo Kante is among them and Real Madrid are eyeing the Frenchman.

- Emerson Palmieri and Olivier Giroud could also be set for Chelsea exits. Goal reports Inter are ready to offer €22million (£19m) plus add-ons for Emerson, while they are also interested in Giroud.

- With Luka Jovic seemingly set for a Real Madrid exit, the interest is apparently growing in the forward. The Daily Star claims Leicester City have joined the race for the forward, who is said to be a target for Chelsea.

- Back at San Siro and Inter have decided to put Matias Vecino on the transfer list, according to CalcioMercato. Vecino, 28, arrived at Inter from Fiorentina in 2017.

Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona will have home advantage for the crucial second legs of their Champions League last-16 ties after a UEFA ruling on Thursday.

Their respective clashes against Real Madrid, Lyon and Napoli are all on a knife edge after tight first games.

There had been talk of the return games possibly being played on neutral territory, as European football's governing body deals with how to finish its 2019-20 competitions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Champions League will be played to a conclusion in Portugal from the quarter-final stage onwards, and the Europa League will conclude similarly with its final rounds being played in Germany, with each competition aiming to complete by the end of August.

UEFA said it considered the "principle of sporting fairness" in reaching its decision regarding the last-16 ties that had started but were unresolved in each competition.

That means Manchester City will defend their 2-1 lead over Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium, Juventus will welcome Lyon to Turin, chasing a deficit after losing 1-0 to the French side in the first game, and Barcelona and Napoli will play again at Camp Nou after a 1-1 draw in Italy.

Bayern Munich, who lead Chelsea 3-0 after a successful trip to London, will take on Frank Lampard's side at the Allianz Arena.

The same rule will apply in the Europa League, although two last-16 ties in that competition have yet to begin and have been moved to Germany, where they will be played as single-leg fixtures, with Inter facing Getafe and Sevilla playing Roma.

UEFA said in a statement: "Consistent with the principle of sporting fairness and considering that current conditions - all clubs due to play at home the return leg of the round of 16 are currently playing the remaining matches of their domestic leagues in their own stadiums and that travelling is possible without restrictions for the visiting clubs – the UEFA executive committee decided that the remaining UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League round of 16 second-leg matches will be played at the home teams' stadiums.

"UEFA will continue to monitor the situation and reserves the right to reassign any such matches to the venues of the final tournament of the relevant competition should new events occur that would make it impossible to play one or more matches at the original venues."

UEFA said it would announce fixture details after Friday's quarter-final draws at its Swiss headquarters.

The governing body also said all its matches would be played behind closed doors until further notice.

"UEFA will monitor the evolution of the situation and advise on any full or partial lifting of restrictions at the appropriate time," its statement added.

David Silva's legacy at Manchester City will be to have changed the club, according to director of football Txiki Begiristain.

Veteran playmaker Silva is set to leave City at the end of this season, following a decorated 10-year stint that has yielded four Premier League titles, five EFL Cups and two FA Cups – the first of which in 2011 ended a 35-year trophy drought.

He offered a reminder of his enduring qualities with a masterful display in Wednesday's 5-0 routing of Newcastle United.

Silva supplied his 120th and 121st assists in City colours by setting up Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, while he also dispatched a 65th-minute free-kick – the 76th goal of his time in England.

Begiristain feels Silva holds a special place in City history, along with club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero and the recently departed Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany.

"He's been unbelievable in football in the world - especially here," he told the club's official website. "He's spent 10 wonderful years, winning trophies and changing the dynamic of the club.

"He's been one of the leaders – with Vincent, with Yaya and Kun [Aguero]. No one will forget what they've done for this football club.

"Not only the way David plays football but helping us be a successful club.

"David is always going to be remembered because of that."

Brazil forward Jesus opened the scoring with his 11th Premier League goal of the season – ending a nine-match drought that stretched back to February's 2-1 Champions League win at Real Madrid.

Echoing the sentiments of Pep Guardiola, Begiristain praised Jesus' selfless work for the team during a period of personal toil.

"His work rate, he's unbelievable," he said. "He helps a lot by creating space for the midfielders.

"He's the number nine and he likes to score and [against Newcastle] he could. We are always happy with the work rate."

Pep Guardiola is confident Eric Garcia will stay at Manchester City amid reported interest from Barcelona.

Garcia, 19, has been linked with a return to the LaLiga club, the outfit he left to join City in 2017.

The Spain youth international has made nine Premier League appearances this season, but was an unused substitute in Wednesday's 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United.

City manager Guardiola said he would try to convince Garcia to stay at the club for "many, many, many years".

"I am confident he will stay but in the end it is his decision," he told a news conference.

"He knows we want him but it was the same with Leroy [Sane, who has joined Bayern Munich]. We want him but if he doesn't want to stay we cannot do anything else.

"He knows, his agent knows, his family knows that we want him. And if Barcelona want him, they have to call Txiki [Begiristain, City director of football]."

City are away to Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola claimed he has never seen a player like David Silva following the midfielder's performance in Manchester City's 5-0 hammering of Newcastle United.

Silva set up goals for Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling and scored a fine free-kick as City made light work of Steve Bruce's men in Wednesday's Premier League clash.

The Spain playmaker now has 121 assists in his City career and has reached 10 in all competitions in each of his 10 seasons with the club.

Silva will have just two more home league games before leaving City at the end of the season, with his farewell dampened by the fact supporters cannot attend games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Manager Guardiola still expects a packed house for Silva's planned testimonial, though, as he believes the 34-year-old is a player unlike any other.

"The level he is having I think is the best of this season," Guardiola told BT Sport. "He's playing really, really good. Okay, the fans are not here, but he's coming back to make the farewell game in front of the fans.

"He's an incredible legend. He's a huge competitor. In small spaces, in the pockets, I never saw a player like him."

City's resounding win came after their shock 1-0 loss to Southampton, their ninth in the league this season.

Guardiola was happy with his side's clinical edge given he felt they created better chances in the defeat at St Mary's Stadium, with his main focus now on the coming FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal and the Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid in August.

"We played good, the same level of the last game," he said. "It was a good performance and today we scored the goals that we missed in the last game.

"We created more chances in the game against Southampton but we could not convert. We are preparing for the games against Arsenal and Madrid.

"Everyone wants to play. I try to let them play as much as possible all the time. They deserve it. I don't just want to select 11 players. We try to convince them that all of us are going to achieve what's ahead this season."

David Silva’s sublime display against Newcastle United saw him lay on a 10th assist of the season, a tally he has reached in all 10 campaigns for Manchester City.

The departing Silva set up the first and last goals, scored by Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, in City's 5-0 home Premier League thrashing of Steve Bruce's side on Wednesday.

He also netted a 25-yard free-kick as he continues to sparkle prior to his exit at the end of the season, though surprisingly this was the first game in which the midfielder had both scored and assisted a goal in since January 2016.

Silva, 34, has racked up a total of 121 assists for City in his decade at the club since signing from Valencia in 2010.

Federico Fernandez scored an own goal, while Riyad Mahrez also notched to ensure City became the first team in Premier League history to have five different players score at least 10 goals in a single season.

Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero have all reached double figures in 2019-20.

The match was also notable for City completing an astonishing 93.7 per cent of their passes (787 out of 840 attempts), the highest level recorded since Opta began gathering data in the 2003-04 season.

Manchester City put their defeat to Southampton behind them with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Newcastle United on Wednesday.

The 1-0 loss at St Mary's Stadium was City's ninth of the Premier League season and left them a demoralising 23 points behind new champions Liverpool at the top.

That gap was closed back to 20 - while the distance to Chelsea in third was stretched to nine - as Pep Guardiola's side brushed aside Newcastle through goals from Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and a Federico Fernandez own goal.

Newcastle were happy to cede possession and keep their defensive block in place, but the game plan was undone just 10 minutes in when Jesus finished from David Silva's cut-back after some slack marking.

The visitors were unable to cope with City's high press and, when they lost the ball again 35 yards out, De Bruyne ran onto Phil Foden's simple pass and squared for Mahrez to side-foot home.

That goal meant City became the first team to have five players hit 10 goals in a single Premier League season and there should have been another when Jonjo Shelvey gave up possession but Foden shot wide.

Foden somehow prodded wide with the goal gaping soon after the restart, but City had only to wait until the 58th minute for their third goal, Matt Ritchie kicking the ball in off Fernandez while trying to stop Jesus.

Silva made it 4-0 with a precise free-kick from 25 yards out, the disjointed Newcastle wall summing up the Magpies' scant overall resistance, and the Spaniard set up substitute Sterling for a simple fifth after intercepting a pass.

What does it mean? City consolidate second... and wonder why

City's latest goalscoring record took them to 86 in the league this season, 14 more than leaders Liverpool, but did little more than make finishing second almost certain.

The kind of attacking interplay and unshakeable dominance of the game against Newcastle only adds to the bemusement as to how they have lost nine times and let Jurgen Klopp's side have such a simple time of things in the title race.

It was a first league loss for Steve Bruce's side since February 22, keeping them six points outside of the top eight but comfortably 16 clear of the drop zone.

Silva still shining as City clock winds down

Silva got his ninth and 10th assists of the season in all competitions and a sublime goal to cap a typically creative, stylish performance. Surprisingly, it was the first time he had scored and set up a goal in a league match since January 2016.

He has just two more home league games to come as a City player. It is a shame they will be held without the crowd ovation he deserves.

Krafth work strikes a sour note

Newcastle's 4-5-1 shape was never likely to work if the players were so quick to lose focus. The first-half goals both came from the position Emil Krafth should have been occupying, although he was given next to no protection out wide by DeAndre Yedlin and Valentino Lazaro.

What's next?

City head to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, the same day Newcastle face a Watford side still fighting for Premier League survival.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.