Angelino is showing the benefits of working under Pep Guardiola after he stole the show in RB Leipzig's 2-0 win over Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League, says Julian Nagelsmann. 

The Spaniard, playing left midfield, scored twice at Red Bull Arena – the first of which was a result of a glorious takedown and spin that Nagelsmann described as "world class". 

Angelino came through the youth ranks at Manchester City and spent time in the first team as well as going out on a spate of loan spells, the latest of which took him to Leipzig in January in a temporary deal that was extended for the 2020-21 season with a purchase option included. 

In total Angelino scored from two of his three shots on goal and provided a key pass, while he also gained possession of the ball six times for a Leipzig side that actually had less possession. 

Nagelsmann was full of praise for Angelino's performance, talking up the influence of City boss Guardiola on his development.

"Angelino is only unpleasant when he doesn't play, which only happened twice this year. That pretty much describes his character," Leipzig coach Nagelsmann said.  

"I think Yussi [Yussuf Poulsen] agrees, that he only wants to win. He is like a child that just wants to play all the time. He is almost as bad as me. I'm always playing around with a ball.  

"But he just always wants to have the ball and you see him constantly shooting it. After training he wants to continue. He has a massive playing instinct and he just wants to win all the time and play around with a ball.  

"I have to admit, he arrived after working under a great manager. I can't just praise myself. He came as a well-developed player.  

"We haven't brought many players in from Pep Guardiola, yet, so we can't draw a comparison. But his adaption time was minimal, as he arrived from a great team and a great manager, who surely taught him something.  

"He is inquisitive, listens and implements things, as he is a great footballer with an instinct to play.  

"He wants to work all the time and Yussi is like that too. So you adapt and show great results. To score his first goal today is world class."

Holders Bayern Munich begin their Champions League defence with the visit of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, in a game that will pit Robert Lewandowski against Luis Suarez.

Liverpool, winners in 2019, travel to Ajax, and Real Madrid host Shakhtar Donetsk, with two of the competition's most successful clubs hoping to avoid some worrying runs of defeats.

Antonio Conte's Inter tackle Borussia Monchengladbach and Manchester City host Porto, a team who boast a rather unfortunate record when it comes to games on English soil.

Here is some of the key Opta data from day two of matchday one.

Ajax v Liverpool: Can Firmino stop the rot?

This will be Liverpool's first meeting with Ajax since the 1966-67 European Cup, when the Dutch side prevailed 7-3 on aggregate in the last 16.

Liverpool's campaign last season ended at the same stage with back-to-back losses to Atletico Madrid. Should they lose in Amsterdam, it will be the first time since Brendan Rodgers was in charge in October to November 2014 that they have suffered three consecutive Champions League defeats.

Perhaps Roberto Firmino is the man to help them. He has been directly involved in 26 goals (15 scored, 11 assisted) in 33 Champions League matches; since his debut in 2017-18, the only other player with 10 or more goals and assists in that time is Kylian Mbappe (13 goals, 13 assists).

 

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid: Lewandowski has history in his sights

Bayern were the first team in history to win every game en route to lifting the trophy last season, and their 11-game winning run is already the longest ever in the competition.

Should Robert Lewandowski score, he will become the first player to do so in 10 Champions League group games in a row. He currently shares the record of nine with Cristiano Ronaldo, who did so from 2012 to 2014.

Atletico have only won twice in their previous 10 group games away from home, but Luis Suarez could give them the boost they need – he has scored five goals in his last five starts in the competition, as many as he managed in his previous 31 starts combined.

 

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk: Zidane puts 100 per cent record on the line

Real Madrid have been in the Champions League group stage 28 times and have never failed to reach the next round. Leeds United, who did so twice, are the only other team to feature in more than one group stage and boast a 100 per cent record.

That said, Madrid lost their final two games last season – both legs of the last-16 tie with Manchester City – and losing to Shakhtar Donetsk would put them on a three-match losing streak in the Champions League or European Cup for the first time since September 1986.

With captain Sergio Ramos injured, Zinedine Zidane will have concerns about his defence. At least the forward line is in capable hands: Karim Benzema has managed four goals and two assists across six consecutive home games in the competition, and Shakhtar have failed to keep a clean sheet in 22 Champions League matches in a row.

Manchester City v Porto: More English misery?

Porto have played 20 away games against English sides in Europe and have failed to win any. In fact, they have lost 17 of those games and have not scored in the previous seven. They do at least go into this contest off a run of just two defeats in 16 Champions League group-stage matches.

City have a pretty strong recent record in the group stage, having gone unbeaten in 11 games since a surprise 2-1 loss to Lyon in September 2018. They also have Raheem Sterling in sharp form: the forward has scored 20 goals in the competition since his debut for City in September 2015, a tally only Harry Kane can match among English players in that time.

 

Other fixtures:

Inter v Borussia Monchengladbach:

9 – Romelu Lukaku has scored nine goals in 11 appearances in European competition for Inter. Since the start of last season, only Robert Lewandowski (15) and Erling Haaland (10) have netted more across the Champions League and Europa League.

8 – Strike partner Lautaro Martinez has scored five in six Champions League starts and eight in 14 in Europe overall for the Nerazzurri.

 

Salzburg v Lokomotiv Moscow:

10 – Since September 2018, Lokomotiv Moscow have lost 10 Champions League games, more than any other club in that time.

16 – Salzburg scored 16 group-stage goals last season but finished third in their group. The only other team to score that many and get knocked out were Chelsea in 2012-13.

 

Midtjylland v Atalanta:

16 – Atalanta have scored at least once in 16 of their previous 17 European games, including nine in three matches in last season's knockouts. Josip Ilicic has nine goals in 13 European appearances for the club.

18 – Midtjylland conceded 18 goals in eight matches in the 2015-16 Europa League, their previous involvement in Europe. No team conceded more that season.

 

Olympiacos v Marseille:

3 – This will be Andre Villas-Boas' first Champions League game since March 2016. He has lost his most recent three matches in the competition.

41 – Steve Mandanda has made 41 appearances in the competition, the most for any Marseille player in history. The goalkeeper accounts for 37 per cent of the total games played by current Marseille players in this tournament.

Pep Guardiola does not believe Manchester City's repeated failures in the Champions League are the result of mental issues and conceded he still feels responsible for last season's shock loss to Lyon.

City have never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the competition during Guardiola's tenure, last reaching the semi-finals under Manuel Pellegrini in 2016.

They start another quest for European glory on Wednesday with a home clash against Porto at the Etihad Stadium.

City saw their dreams of lifting the trophy unexpectedly dashed by a 3-1 defeat to Lyon in Lisbon in August, with Guardiola still bearing the psychological scars from the events at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

"It was a tough moment. I felt so responsible," Guardiola told a media conference. 

"I was not able to drive the club and the players. I feel so responsible. We have to accept the reality, we were not good enough. 

"We didn't play bad, but at the same time we made mistakes and we can't do that in this competition and go through.

"The reality is, every player and manager, not just here, has to dream with high expectations. We have to accept it with humility.

"When we do this it is the best way to improve. This competition is so demanding and the mistakes we commit, I feel so bad for the players. We are going to start tomorrow from zero again.

"I have the feeling we are close. Every season when I analyse when we go out, I have the feeling we are close.

"At the same time, we make mistakes that make you feel we don't deserve to go through. I don't think it is mental. It is about desire and avoiding mistakes.

"Of course, if you are used to being in the latter stages, maybe it would be easier. Being here 10 times is good for us, but I know the reality of this club.

"The next step is making the semi-finals. The things we have done are the past and now it is a new opportunity.

"In this competition in some departments we need to be better. The players know it, five minutes after the game they know. We have the same challenge, a new opportunity. Tomorrow's the first step of many to get really far in this competition."

The omens are good for City ahead of that first step. They are unbeaten in 11 group stage games since losing to Lyon in September 2018 and Porto are winless in their last four opening group stage matches.

Andrea Pirlo described Pep Guardiola as a "model for the whole football movement" and admits he never dreamed he would one day be coaching Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Italy great Pirlo has taken his first steps into coaching with Juventus this season and his side have eight points from his four Serie A games in charge. 

There are some parallels to be drawn with Guardiola, who cut his managerial teeth at Barcelona – initially with Los Cules' B team before going on to oversee one of the greatest sides of any generation with a star-studded cast including Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. 

He consequently went on to coach Bayern Munich before joining Manchester City in 2016 and Pirlo sees Guardiola as an example for any rookie coach. 

"Guardiola is an example for all of us, he is one of the best. He gave a way forward for young coaches who wanted to promote a certain type of offensive football," Pirlo told UEFA.com. 

"Each of us has his own ideas and wants to carry them forward, but he is certainly a model for the whole football movement.  

"I like his style of play: always attacking and influencing the game in order to always manage situations. This must be our goal for the future." 

At Juve, Pirlo has Portugal superstar Ronaldo among his ranks – a player considered one of the greatest of all time. 

During his career, Ronaldo has lifted the Champions League five times, claimed domestic titles in England, Spain and Italy and is a five-time Ballon d'Or winner. 

Pirlo spoke of the pride he feels at working with a player of his calibre. 

"No, I never would have imagined it, but I am happy to have a great football player available and to see him train and play. For me and for the whole team it is a great pleasure," he added.  

"At 35 he works like a young boy, with the same passion and the desire to commit himself every day. He is an example for everyone." 

Sergio Aguero must prove he deserves a new contract at Manchester City, manager Pep Guardiola warned.

Aguero returned following a four-month absence due to a knee injury as City recorded a 1-0 win at home to Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.

But the forward, who is City's all-time leading goalscorer, is out of contract at the end of the season and Guardiola said Aguero had a point to prove if he was to earn a new deal.

"Sergio now has to show, like every one of us, that he deserves to continue here – keep playing well, scoring goals and winning games – and after that the club and I will decide," Guardiola told reporters.

"But if he is playing in his level we don't have any doubts that he is a player to stay until he decides because he is unique. He is important for us, our fans and everyone.

"But he was out four months and he has to start training regularly and start to score goals – this is the most important thing."

Aguero has won four Premier League titles and numerous other domestic trophies since arriving at City from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

Guardiola is unsurprisingly happy to have the 32-year-old – who scored 16 goals in 24 league games last season – back from injury.

"Having Aguero on the pitch, we are better, we are safer," he said.

"We missed him a lot in the important moments at the end part of last season, but now is good news for us that he is back."

Since Aguero arrived at City in 2011, they have a better win percentage without him than with (70.7 to 67.4) in the Premier League, while on average scoring more often (2.4 to 2.3), as per Opta.

Those numbers are amplified since Guardiola took charge in 2016. Since then, City have won 78.6 per cent of Premier League games without Aguero and 71.9 with him, while scoring 2.7 goals per match when the Argentinian has been absent, compared to 2.4 with him.

City begin their Champions League campaign at home to Porto on Wednesday before making the trip to West Ham three days later.

Everton and Liverpool played out a thrilling and controversial Merseyside derby on Saturday, while Pep Guardiola brought up his 500th managerial win.

Mohamed Salah and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both continued their scoring streaks in a dramatic encounter at Goodison Park, which finished 2-2 in contentious fashion.

Manchester City then saw off Mikel Arteta's Arsenal 1-0, after Chelsea had been pegged back to a 3-3 draw by Southampton, with Manchester United bouncing back from their 6-1 defeat to Tottenham with a comprehensive 4-1 win at Newcastle United in the late match.

Here, using Opta data, take a look at the key stats from Saturday's games.

Everton 2-2 Liverpool: Salah reaches century as Calvert-Lewin keeps on scoring

The reigning champions were humbled against Aston Villa before the international break, though Jurgen Klopp's side responded in force at Goodison Park.

Yet their efforts were not enough to claim a win over their rivals, who had Richarlison sent off late on, with Jordan Henderson's late strike contentiously disallowed by VAR.

Salah netted the 100th goal of his Liverpool career in his 159th appearance to put Liverpool 2-1 up – only Roger Hunt and Jack Parkinson have made it to the century in fewer appearances for the club. 

Salah's partner in crime Sadio Mane opened the scoring early on. It was the Reds' fastest ever goal in a Premier League derby, though Everton have done it quicker in the fixture , with Olivier Dacourt scoring after just one minute in April 1999.

Andrew Robertson provided the assist, the full-back's 14th since the start of the 2018-19 season. Only Kevin De Bruyne (21) has managed more in the English top flight, yet the lead did not last for too long, Michael Keane heading in James Rodriguez's delivery, with the Colombian having set up three league goals for the Toffees so far.

Calvert-Lewin got Everton's second and what proved to be the encounter's final goal, with his 12th headed goal in the top flight since the start of last term.

Having also struck on his England debut, the forward continued his fine start to the campaign, becoming the first Everton player to score in the first five league games of a season since Tommy Lawton, way back in 1938-39. 

Chelsea 3-3 Southampton: Walcott back with a bang

Kai Havertz's first Premier League goal looked set to be enough to secure a 3-2 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but Jannik Vestergaard snatched a point for Southampton.

Though Timo Werner and Havertz broke their Premier League ducks, becoming the fifth and sixth Germans to score for Chelsea in the competition in the process, Frank Lampard's defensive issues once again came to the fore.

With Danny Ings and Che Adams having already capitalised on defensive lapses, Theo Walcott, making his first Saints appearance in 14 years and 276 days, lashed in a stoppage-time shot which Vestergaard headed in.

It means Southampton have lost just one of their last eight away Premier League games (W4 D3) after losing two in a row directly before that in February.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have conceded an average of 1.5 goals per game in the Premier League under Lampard (63 in 43 games), the Blues' worst rate under any boss to oversee more than one game in the competition.

In the process of getting off the mark in the Premier League, Werner has now scored 30 league goals since the start of last season – only Robert Lewandowski, Ciro Immobile and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues.

Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal: Sterling brings up Pep's 500th win

Raheem Sterling's fourth goal in his past three games got Manchester City back to winning ways, and sealed a landmark victory for Guardiola in the process.

Sterling sat out England's recent matches with a hamstring issue but was back in action to score midway through the first half in Manchester.

Guardiola has now won 500 games in all competitions as a manager (including Barcelona B), winning 172 as City boss.

City are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League encounters with Arsenal (W8 D2), since a 1-2 loss in December 2015, though Arteta did guide the Gunners to a win in last season's FA Cup semi-final.

Arsenal are winless in their last 29 Premier League away games against "big six" opponents (D10 L19), however, and have lost each of their last seven top-flight games against City, their longest such run against an opponent since losing seven in a row to Ipswich Town between 1974-1977.

Ederson has kept 53 clean sheets in the Premier League since his debut in August 2017; 15 more than any other goalkeeper in this time, while Sterling has been directly involved in each of City's last five goals in all competitions (four goals, one assist).

Newcastle United 1-4 Manchester United: Fernandes strikes again despite penalty miss

After their dismal defeat to Spurs at Old Trafford, United needed a response, though matters looked bleak when Luke Shaw's early own goal put them behind at Newcastle.

However, Harry Maguire – after a tumultuous time with England – struck back, with Bruno Fernandes missing a penalty before scoring a wonderful goal to restore United's lead.

Fernandes' penalty miss was his first for United on what was his 11th spot-kick since his debut on February 1, with those 11 six more than any other Premier League player has taken in that time.

However, with his goal and subsequent assist for Marcus Rashford, who added a fourth after Aaron Wan-Bissaka had made it 3-1 in emphatic fashion, Fernandes has been directly involved in 20 goals in his 18 Premier League appearances for United (11 goals, nine assists).

Newcastle conceded four goals at home in the Premier League for the first time since April 5, 2014, also against the Red Devils.

United enjoyed their 10th comeback win against Newcastle in the Premier League, the most by any side against a single opponent in the competition, while Steve Bruce's side are now without a clean sheet in seven top-flight games, their longest such run without a shut-out on home soil since February 2014.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have been awarded 17 penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season, five more than any other side in the competition (12 scored).

With his brilliant strike, Wan-Bissaka became the 116th different player to score for United in the Premier League in what is his 38th league appearance for the club, as Rashford registered three goal involvements in a top-flight match for the third time.

Will Manchester City land Lionel Messi?

City were reportedly close to luring Messi to the Premier League during the previous transfer window.

Messi remains at Barcelona, but City are believed to be planning another move.

 

TOP STORY – CITY CONTEMPLATING MESSI MOVE

Manchester City are considering an offer to prise Lionel Messi from Barcelona in January, according to the Daily Star.

Messi handed in a transfer request at the start of the season and the Barca captain was tipped to join City before opting to remain at Camp Nou.

Pep Guardiola's City, however, have not given up on Messi as they eye a £15million (€16m) bid for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner – who was also linked to Juventus, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain previously.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Barca are eyeing January moves for Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and City defender Eric Garcia. Lyon captain Memphis Depay has also been linked.

Liverpool and Tottenham are set to battle it out for the signing of Leeds United's £50million midfielder Kalvin Phillips, reports the Mirror.

- The Sun says Manchester United are circling for Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde. United believe a swap deal involving Paul Pogba could be possible due to Valverde's £640m (€705m) release clause.

N'Golo Kante has no intention of leaving Chelsea, according to Le10 Sport. The France international has been linked to Inter and Madrid.

Pep Guardiola felt the manner of Manchester City's 1-0 win over Arsenal will help to rebuild confidence and reserved praise for his defensive unit.

Raheem Sterling scored the only goal after 23 minutes at the Etihad Stadium, converting on the rebound after Bernd Leno blocked Phil Foden's shot.

But City also broke the deadlock in their previous Premier League games against Leicester City and Leeds United, matches that ended in a 5-2 defeat and 1-1 draw respectively.

On Saturday, despite the absence of influential centre-back Aymeric Laporte, Guardiola's side dug in to earn their victory.

Ederson completed a brilliant trio of first-half saves before Arsenal could only manage a solitary shot on target during the second half, when a back three of Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake grew in stature.

"It was a tight game as we expected. It was for our heads, so important this victory, for the problems that we have," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"In the game against Leeds, Ederson made outstanding saves and again today.

"What we have done today, without the ball, defending together. I think Nathan and Ruben were incredible, and Kyle as a central defender.

"We could not train one session on the build-up [with this back three]. We need more time to grow as a team, but it's okay

"I think this game is going to help us to make a step forward."

The result was Guardiola's 500th victory of his coaching career, including his stint in charge of Barcelona B.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was perplexed by how VAR dealt with a penalty claim during his side's 1-0 loss at Manchester City.

Raheem Sterling scored the only goal midway through the first half at the Etihad Stadium, where Arsenal played a full part in an absorbing contest.

Arteta bemoaned a trio of clear-cut chances that went begging before the break, City goalkeeper Ederson standing firm to twice deny Bukayo Saka before saving from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

When defending a corner in first-half stoppage time, Kyle Walker's boot came close to Gabriel's head and Arteta questioned why a more thorough video examination of the incident did not take place.

"That has to be checked," he told Sky Sports.

"They said that they checked, and I said, 'How the hell have you checked if you took two seconds to check that action?'. Obviously, there is something there."

Despite ruing those missed chances, former City assistant Arteta had plenty of praise for how his team approached the match.

"I am upset because I think we deserved more from the game," he said. "I am extremely happy with the performance we put in against a top, top team, to play with the courage we did and to make it as difficult as we did, I cannot demand much more from the players.

"When you have three big chances in this game, you have to score. I think the three of them were really good chances and then the situation we have with Kyle Walker from the corner."

Arteta added: "We've come a long way. I'm extremely happy. I was in that dressing room for four years and I know what it takes for a team to do what we've done here."

Raheem Sterling's fourth goal in his past three games got Manchester City back to winning ways in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal.

Sterling sat out England's games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark with a hamstring niggle but was back in action to score decisively midway through the first half at the Etihad Stadium.

Arsenal, led by Pep Guardiola's former assistant Mikel Arteta, beat City in last season's FA Cup semi-final and again asked plenty of questions of their hosts, for whom goalkeeper Ederson excelled.

But Guardiola's side held on for a timely triumph after taking a solitary point from encounters with Leicester City and Leeds United before the international break.

Riyad Mahrez, stationed on the right of a fluid City attack, was prominently involved in the opening exchanges - firing wide inside the opening minute before digging out a cross for the returning Sergio Aguero to head over.

The former Leicester City favourite's astute in-field pass released Aguero to run at the Arsenal defence in the 23rd minute, with Phil Foden's resulting shot saved by Bernd Leno and tucked home on the rebound by Sterling.

Bukayo Saka danced through the City backline to force a stop from Ederson as Arsenal sought a swift response, although Leno had to be alert to thwart Mahrez at his near post before the half hour and denied Foden after his defence played into trouble.

It was a game to busy both goalkeepers, with Ederson springing into action when Saka and then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang burst into the City box.

Guardiola sent on Ilkay Gundogan, returning after a positive coronavirus test, in place of Aguero in an attempt to shore up midfield with Arsenal in the ascendancy after the break.

Nevertheless, free-kicks from David Luiz and Nicolas Pepe that did not trouble Ederson were the closest they came.

On an increasingly rare foray forward, City wing-back Joao Cancelo almost forced David Luiz to prod into his own net. In the end, Sterling's solitary strike would prove enough.

Sergio Aguero is back in the Manchester City starting line-up to face Arsenal, who have new signing Thomas Partey on the bench at the Etihad Stadium.

Aguero has not featured since suffering a meniscus injury against Burnley in June and will lead a City attack also featuring Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, with Gabriel Jesus remaining sidelined.

Kevin De Bruyne suffered an injury on international duty with Belgium and Pep Guardiola has responded by selecting both Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden alongside holding midfielder Rodri.

Like Aguero, Joao Cancelo makes his first appearance of the season at left-back, with Nathan Ake partnering record signing Ruben Dias at centre-back as Aymeric Laporte is a surprise absentee.

Partey completed a £45million switch to Arsenal from Atletico Madrid on deadline day, although Granit Xhaka partners Dani Ceballos in central midfield for Mikel Arteta's side.

Xhaka is one of three changes from the Gunners 2-1 win over Sheffield United, replacing Mohamed Elneny as defender Rob Holding and winger Nicolas Pepe come in for David Luiz and Eddie Nketiah respectively.

Pep Guardiola is confident Bernardo Silva will enjoy a strong season for Manchester City after a below-par 2019-20.

Silva scored for Portugal against Sweden in the Nations League on Wednesday, and received backing from Guardiola ahead of City's clash with Arsenal.

While the playmaker was directly involved in 13 goals last Premier League season – compared to 14 in 2018-19 – he created fewer chances.

Silva created 71 chances, including assists, in 2018-19 and that number dropped to 51 last season, when he played 824 fewer minutes.

Guardiola said the 26-year-old was exhausted last season, having helped City win four domestic trophies and Portugal clinch the Nations League the campaign prior.

"He was injured in some moments and he didn't reach the levels of previous season, but it happens. I've an opinion that if there's one player I have absolutely no doubts about who he is as a football player, it's Bernardo," the City manager told reporters. 

"He played absolutely incredible all season when we won four domestic titles, incredible, then was the best player with Portugal at the UEFA Nations League Finals.

"He didn't have time to refresh, he was exhausted and his mind was exhausted and he struggled with this. It is not because he didn't want it, it was because we demand a lot of the players and sometimes it is not possible.

"In the NBA – the best league in basketball and we can say the Premier League is one of the best in football – they have three or four months break, they play a lot of games – 70 or 80 – but they have three or four months' break."

Guardiola added: "With Bernardo it was like this – he couldn't refresh mentally and started the season tired mentally.

"But I have a feeling he'll have a very good season this season because he's coming back in many things to what we've seen in the past."

Ahead of hosting Arsenal on Saturday, City are 14th in the table after earning just four points from their opening three games.

Former Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta has retired from football.

The 35-year-old has been without a club since being released by West Ham at the end of June.

"After 18 years as a professional footballer I took the decision to retire from playing football," Zabaleta said in a social media post.

"These have been wonderful years that gave me the opportunity to enjoy unique and unforgettable moments.

"Forever I will thank all the people that shared the journey with me; clubs, team-mates, coaches and in particular my family and all my friends.

"With a lot of emotions I leave behind one of the best stages of my life. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!"

Zabaleta made 594 appearances at club level, starting with San Lorenzo in Argentina before moving to LaLiga with Espanyol.

He joined City in 2008 shortly before the takeover by the Abu Dhabi investment group and went on to become one of the club's most important players in a nine-year spell, popularly known as a 'warrior' figure.

Zabaleta won two Premier League titles, two EFL Cups and the FA Cup and was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year in 2012-13.

He signed for West Ham in 2017 and made a further 73 appearances in England's top flight.

In 303 Premier League games in total, he recorded 953 tackles, the most of any player in the competition since his debut 12 years ago.

A winner of Olympic gold in 2008, Zabaleta won 58 senior caps for Argentina and was part of the side that finished runners-up at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Jurgen Klopp insisted concern for football was at the heart of the Project Big Picture proposals rejected by Premier League clubs this week. 

The Liverpool boss is glad reform was discussed after the Reds and Manchester United led wide-ranging suggestions that were unanimously rejected, though a bailout for League One and League Two teams was agreed at a virtual meeting. 

Changes to Premier League voting rights, a reduction of the top flight to 18 teams, the abolition of the EFL Cup and alterations to existing funding models for lower league clubs and the Football Association (FA) were all up for debate. 

"It is really important we speak about it because I can't remember the last time we did – the space for improvement in football," Klopp said ahead of Liverpool's derby with Everton on Saturday. 

"A lot of times in life there must be a crisis to start talking. I'm happy people are talking. Yes, competitive [football is] positive, no one wants to change that. 

"I am not really involved. I was informed. What I can say, all the people involved are concerned about football. If you want to understand the idea behind it, you listen, if you do not, you just knock it down.  

"There are things to improve in football and that is what these people tried. The process keeps going and the people are talking and that is positive."

The subject was also raised at a host of other managerial news conferences ahead of the weekend's Premier League action. 

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: "It's a definite that we, as one of the bigger clubs, have a responsibility to protect the football pyramid or smaller clubs.  

"We have seen lately the impact this pandemic has had on many smaller clubs. For me, a key thing is that we want to get the fans back into the stadiums, which will help the other clubs.  

"I'm very glad we're looking into trying to help and the talks have started - let's make the powers that be decide how we're going to do that." 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Chelsea's Frank Lampard also had their say on the topic. 

"I want the best for football," said Guardiola. "I didn't listen to the hypothetical suggestions, I'm a big fan of the low categories, but honestly I don't know what the situation is.  

"I remember being with Barcelona and here in England arrived the Premier League. There was an incredible amount of criticism about the Premier League, that it wouldn't be good and what was before should've stayed.  

"And after look what happened with the Premier League, it's now maybe the best league in the world.  

"I just want the best for football, making the Premier League as strong as possible – now it's not possible in this pandemic - but also for the low categories, because the old towns and little villages love their teams and that is the point."  

Lampard, who was asked if it is was a mess at the top of football, said: "I won't use the word 'mess' but I think if you look across society and what COVID has done to the world, we're all in difficult, difficult times, so I don't want to be too critical of that.  

"People are trying to find solutions all the time. With the actual football picture, I haven't paid enough attention to give you details but Chelsea have remained - I think since the lockdown - [doing] some of the great work we did. 

"We're certainly intent on making sure we're involved in conversations around protecting the football pyramid, and grassroots all the way up through the EFL and to the Premier League. 

"We'll be very involved in those conversations when needed, as we always are, and try to do the best."

Kevin De Bruyne is set to miss a number of games for Manchester City due to injury, Pep Guardiola announced on Friday.

Midfield maestro De Bruyne went off in the second half of Belgium's 2-1 loss to England last weekend and sat out their 2-1 victory over Iceland on Wednesday.

Guardiola confirmed ahead of Saturday's meeting with Arsenal that the 29-year-old is set for a spell on the sidelines, though he was unsure exactly how long it will be.

Asked about the condition of his players after they returned from the international break, Guardiola said: "Everyone came back a little bit better than the time before, because the previous time [Joao] Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and other were injured and couldn't play the beginning of the season.

"Unfortunately Kevin is out, but the rest they came back well. I don't think [De Bruyne's injury] is much, but for the next games he will be out."

The City boss acknowledged that injuries are inevitable with the congested schedule and did not blame the international fixtures for the loss of De Bruyne.

"I never complain about the international games. I know how important it is for the players to play for their countries, it's an honour and a privilege," Guardiola said.

"UEFA and FIFA defend their own tournaments. We always want players to come back fit but sometimes they can get injured training with us. I am more of the opinion that players are injured because we demand so much of them after tough seasons.

"That's why there arrives a moment when the body says it's enough and they go down injured.

"Bernardo and the other players, Joao, they could not have a normal pre-season, they were injured, to get rhythm in these games was good for them."

City have been without all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero since June due to a knee injury but he could make his first appearance of the season against Arsenal.

However, Gabriel Jesus, who has missed each of the team's past four matches, will continue to sit out.

"Sergio is training well and we're happy," Guardiola said. "Every team needs a striker, and we played without them in the first days. He's been training well and we're happy to see him back on the pitch after a long, long time.

"[Jesus] was injured. In some muscles you can take a risk and there are others where you cannot. He has an injury in the front part of his leg. If there was another incident we would lose him for a very long time. I don't know [how long he will be out]."

Saturday's game at the Etihad Stadium will see Guardiola go up against his former assistant Mikel Arteta, who has impressed the Catalan with his work in north London.

"Maybe we should clarify who is the master and who is the apprentice?" said Guardiola.

"We didn't have any doubts about what he's doing in a short period. He's settled really well and the way his team is playing right now is perfect for the quality they have.

"He was able to get Arsenal back in the position they were a long, long time ago. He's doing really well in all competitions and he's a competitor, a fighter, [with] clear things on the pitch.

"All the people who love him are more than happy with what he's doing in London."

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