Rumour Has It: Manchester City open contract talks with Sterling

By Sports Desk November 20, 2019

Manchester City are going to great lengths to keep Raheem Sterling.

Though contracted until 2023, the England international's exceptional form has led to links with Real Madrid.

But it could earn him a fresh extension to his bumper deal at the Etihad Stadium.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SEEK STERLING INSURANCE

Premier League champions City have opened contract talks with star forward Sterling, according to the Mirror.

The 24-year-old agreed a new three-year extension a mere 12 months ago but City are taking no chances with his future amid rumours of interest from LaLiga giants Madrid.

Sterling has scored 14 goals in 17 club appearances this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Corriere dello Sport says Juventus are preparing a €100million offer for Valencia winger Ferran Torres, who has also been linked to Liverpool.

- Bayern Munich are interested in Tottenham teenager Troy Parrott and Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, reports the Daily Mail. Parrott, 17, has caught the eye, while Henderson is on loan at Sheffield United.

- Napoli have offered Fabian Ruiz a contract extension through to 2025, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barcelona and Madrid are rumoured to want the Spain international midfielder.

- According to reports in Spain, Athletic Bilbao want to re-sign Javi Martinez from Bayern Munich. Martinez left the Basque club for Bayern in 2012.

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    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer encouraged Marcus Rashford to maintain his impressive scoring form as he urged Manchester United to show consistency in Saturday's derby.

    United head to the Etihad Stadium with renewed belief following their 2-1 midweek win over Tottenham but will again be without the injured Paul Pogba, who has not played since September.

    Anthony Martial will be available, albeit potentially from the bench, as United seek to make a dent in Manchester City's title aspirations.

    Rashford scored both goals against Spurs and has now been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 games for club and country, having found net the freely since mid-October.

    His pace on the counter will be crucial to United's hopes of breaking down a side that has not kept a clean sheet in eight attempts, and manager Solskjaer backed the England international to continue blossoming as a reliable goalscorer.

    "He's doing that at the moment," said the United boss.

    "How he didn't get the goal against Aston Villa is beyond me but he's consistently scoring now. It's not like four in one and two or three without. It's not just in spurts and that's encouraging.

    "He's consistently getting chances and getting into better positions. On Wednesday he was unbelievable and we want to see that again."

    Solskjaer sought to extract the same response from Rashford's team-mates after United ended a three-match winless streak with the Old Trafford triumph over Tottenham.

    United have not won consecutive Premier League matches since March.

    "We're going away against arguably the best team in England, so of course it's going to be a difficult game but we need consistency," Solskjaer said.

    "I said it before the Tottenham game, everyone was doom and gloom, but it's a chance to turn that doubt into belief and for us, if we can manage to get another performance, the confidence [will grow].

    "The way we played against Tottenham, if we can do that at the Etihad I'm sure we can come out of it with a result.

    "People say: 'Why do you not have better results in other games?' But the Premier League is hard, no matter who you play, it's margins. I think it's a compliment to the league."

    Solskjaer said he hoped midfielder Pogba would return from his long-running ankle injury before the end of December.

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    Pep Guardiola prevailed in his maiden managerial meeting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and would dearly love another win on Saturday to remain in sight of Liverpool.

    Manchester City did that with a routine 4-1 win at Burnley on Tuesday but their bitter rivals and next opponents perhaps took more from the midweek fixtures.

    In overcoming Jose Mourinho's Tottenham, Manchester United shed a poor run of results and laid down some sort of marker for what is possible for a team that was in mid-table.

    But with what Solskjaer described as his side's best display for a "long time" comes the need for another step forward at the Etihad Stadium.

     

    CAN UNITED MAKE IT TWO STEPS FORWARD?

    "We dominated the game and could have, should have finished the game there and then," Solskjaer side of United's first half against Tottenham.

    They eventually completed the job against the Champions League finalists but what lies ahead is a tougher test and a true measure of the Norwegian's tactical acumen.

    Daniel James and Marcus Rashford joined Mason Greenwood in attack on Wednesday and should in theory have the pace to trouble City on the break, much as Wolves did in October.

    Rashford scored twice against Spurs and has now been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 games for club and country, a sharp improvement on his lean start to the season.

    City, meanwhile, were back closer to their best in the convincing victory over Burnley but have failed to keep a clean sheet in eight games in all competitions.

    Can the ageing Fernandinho cope alongside either John Stones, who professes not to know which games he will start, or the error-prone Nicolas Otamendi?

    The man tasked with screening the defence could help, particularly as he faces a key midfield battle.

    HEAD-TO-HEAD: RODRI V SCOTT MCTOMINAY

    Rodri's thunderous strike at Turf Moor will have done wonders for the Spaniard's confidence ahead of his first Manchester derby.

    The 23-year-old close-season recruit has had a bigger part to play in his first Premier League campaign than perhaps even Guardiola would have expected, in part due to Fernandinho's move into defence.

    Rodri's ability on the ball was obvious before his arrival in England and it is of little surprise that his passing accuracy (91.73 per cent) is superior to the man he is set to meet in the centre of the Etihad Stadium pitch, Scott McTominay.

    McTominay's average sits at 78.74 per cent but his importance to United was obvious as he helped the Red Devils end a three-game winless streak when returning from an ankle injury.

    The Scotland international offers more in a box-to-box sense and has scored three goals to Rodri's two from the same number of appearances (13), while attempting 20 shots to his counterpart's seven.

    That, though, is generally where his statistical superiority ends. Despite playing 178 more minutes, McTominay has managed just one more tackle and two more interceptions than Rodri.

    The latter also boasts a better duel success rate (62.41 per cent to 55.74) and has laid on an extra seven scoring chances.

    FORM GUIDE

    City returned to winning ways against the Clarets after drawing on the road at Newcastle United, a result that left them 11 points adrift of Liverpool.

    The club's record over their past 10 top-flight matches now reads seven victories, one draw and two defeats, those coming against Wolves and leaders Liverpool at Anfield.

    United head across town fresh from a morale-boosting reunion with former manager Mourinho but have issues to rectify against fellow 'big six' teams.

    They have won one of their past five away to such opposition and weaknesses were evident in recent trips to Bournemouth and Sheffield United, which reaped a solitary point.

    HISTORY SAYS...

    Guardiola's record in the Manchester derby makes for cheery reading for City supporters.

    The champions prevailed 2-0 at Old Trafford in April, the Catalan's seventh win from 11 meetings with the team across town.

    Another victory would see him become the club's second manager, after Manuel Pellegrini, to notch up three in a row against United in the Premier League.

    The Red Devils do, however, hold the superior head-to-head record: 21 wins to City's 15, with the points split on eight occasions.

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