Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola regrets not buying a striker in the last transfer window after confirming Sergio Aguero could be missing for up to a month.

Aguero sustained a hamstring injury in City's 1-1 draw with West Ham last weekend and will not be involved in their Champions League Group C clash with Marseille on Tuesday.

With Gabriel Jesus also absent, recovering from a muscle injury he picked up on the opening day of the Premier League season, City are short of striking options.

When asked if he regretted not strengthening his forward line before the window shut, Guardiola acknowledged it would have been preferable but that they were unable to free up funds.

"Maybe, yes. We considered it, we thought about it, but we could not," Guardiola said at a news conference on the eve of City's match in the south of France.

"If you decide to buy a striker, it has to be a striker in the league of Gabriel and Sergio, but we cannot afford it.

"I am not saying the club didn't want to do it in terms of strikers, they want to make as strong a team as possible. Sergio is back [out injured], and I didn't expect Gabriel to be injured. Sometimes it happens."

Guardiola could not give an exact time frame on Argentina international Aguero's return but revealed City's all-time leading goalscorer could be facing up to a month on the sidelines.

The City boss also dismissed suggestions Aguero was rushed back too quickly following surgery on a knee problem before the new season started.

He continued: "Sergio was injured last game. And you know, when you're four or five months out with knee problems, you are at risk.

"We didn't rush him back. We were incredibly patient, didn't force the doctors. Of course, we knew he was not in the best condition.

"But he was important against West Ham for 55, 60 minutes. Unfortunately, one action in the first half, he was unlucky, went to stop a long pass and he felt something. Hopefully, he recovers as well as possible.

"We tried to manage it as good as possible, but it was not enough to maintain it. We hope he will be back as soon as possible.

"I don't know long; it depends on the injury. The minimum is 10-15 days, a little longer. It could be a month."

Guardiola, meanwhile, would again not be drawn on whether the club has started to open talks with Aguero over a new contract.

The 32-year-old's deal is set to expire at the end of the season but recent injury problems have cast doubt over his City future.

"I don't know, I don't want to talk about it because I am not involved with this," Guardiola added.

"If I should be involved in contracts, maybe the day should be 48 hours, not 24! What I want is for Sergio to be fit, what I want is Sergio [to] come back again, be ready as much as possible.

"We miss him a lot. What he has done for this club is outstanding, [he] will be a legend of this club, we want to enjoy him before but it depends on his physicality and his physical condition."

Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City are doing "absolutely everything" in tough circumstances as they fell further off the pace in the Premier League with a 1-1 draw against West Ham. 

Phil Foden came off the bench to cancel out Michail Antonio's brilliant overhead kick but City were unable to force a winner as Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez spurned late chances. 

A return of eight points from five matches is the club's worst start to a campaign since 2014-15, when they struggled as defending Premier League champions under Manuel Pellegrini. 

Foden entered the action in place of Sergio Aguero, who sustained a hamstring injury having started three games in a week on his return from meniscus surgery. 

Aguero was pressed into such frequent action due to Gabriel Jesus being sidelined, while left-sided defenders Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake and Benjamin Mendy were all unavailable at London Stadium. 

Fernandinho is set to miss the next six weeks after pulling up during the closing stages of Wednesday's 3-1 Champions League win over Porto, while Laporte, Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan have all tested positive for coronavirus this season. 

Guardiola was able to give Kevin De Bruyne a return from the bench but concedes the compressed nature of this season after reaching the final stages of the Champions League in August is taking a toll. 

"I would prefer to have results, but I have to analyse the situation we're in," he told a post-match news conference. 

"We struggle for the many injuries, the lack of preparation and no recovery time between the incredibly tough games we've played so far. 

"The players did absolutely everything, gave everything on the pitch. They fought and were incredibly tired at the end." 

Guardiola accepted the depth of talent in his squad means sympathy will be in short supply. 

He continued: "Of course, there is plenty of quality. I'm not complaining about that. I could complain about the first goal of West Ham [Tomas Soucek appeared to handle in the build-up] but I did not say anything. 

"We struggled with just one or two weeks for preparation, we had guys with COVID, we did not have enough regeneration for the players. 

"Our striker [Jesus] was injured in the first game against Wolves, could not play more. Sergio came back after four or five months, Kevin was injured, Gundo this was the first time he could play 90 minutes. 

"To play three competitions every three days, you need all the squad. If you don't have all the squad it is more difficult. 

"This year we finished and started later than usual. They needed a break. I'm not saying this is the reason why, I'm just putting on the table what our situation is. 

"It's time to struggle, we knew it. Don't drop many points and continue. This is the reality." 

Opposite number David Moyes, who lost his own striker Antonio to a hamstring complaint during the second period, acknowledged Guardiola is in a tricky spot. 

"I think that Manchester City are probably slightly different to us, as they went to the quarter-finals of the Champions League," he said. 

"We were having some sort of holiday time. We had a mini pre-season if you want to call it that. Manchester City haven't. 

"With the international players having to play three games a week ago and three games coming up and the amount of club games coming up at the moment, it's going to take its toll somewhere along the line. 

"In the Championship you become immune to it, but I think for the Premier League players, with the speed and the tempo of the games, I do think they're liable to be injuries if we're not careful." 

Antonio will have a scan to assess his problem, which also hindered him during last weekend's dramatic 3-3 draw at Tottenham. 

Sergio Aguero is set for another spell on the sidelines, adding to Manchester City's ongoing injury woes.

Aguero was replaced at half-time during Saturday's 1-1 Premier League draw at West Ham, a result that leaves Pep Guardiola's side languishing in 12th place with eight points from five matches.

The Argentina international did not suffer a recurrence of the knee injury that required surgery in June, but a hamstring strain means Guardiola is again set to be without a specialist senior striker amid a hectic schedule as Gabriel Jesus steps up his recovery from a muscular complaint.

"He's injured. A different problem. I don't know if it's serious," he told BT Sport, before confirming the precise nature of the 32-year-old's complaint at a post-match news conference.

The game at London Stadium was the first of three on the road this week for City, with a midweek trip to Marseille in the Champions League preceding a Bramall Lane meeting with Sheffield United next Saturday.

Phil Foden replaced Aguero and had a swift impact, lifting City from a tepid first-half display and clipping home a 51st-minute equaliser.

"As always, he gave us something extra," said Guardiola, who was brevity personified after seeing Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez spurn late chances for the win.

Foden offered a fuller appraisal and praised his manager's more pointed words inside the dressing room at half-time.

"I think we stated slow in the first half, weren't passing quick enough round the back and didn't have a good tempo," Foden told BT Sport.

"The manager spoke well at half-time and we came out and played better football."

The England midfielder added: "I like to arrive there and score goals. Long may it continue.

"It's nice to be playing as much as possible because I love this club and love playing for them."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has reiterated his defence of Sergio Aguero over an incident that saw the Argentina striker put his arm around assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis.

Aguero placed a hand on the female official during City's 1-0 win over Arsenal last week and drew widespread criticism on social media and from pundits.

Match of the Day analysts Alan Shearer and Ian Wright were among those to condemn the action, while ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville called on Aguero to apologise.

Guardiola defended Aguero in the aftermath of the game and once again backed his striker, who he said would have said sorry had Massey-Ellis complained.

"I didn't speak to Sergio about this, but I'm pretty sure if she felt bad, he will apologise without a problem," Guardiola said.

"All the people looking from outside judge, but I know the intention from Sergio. Sergio put his hands in a normal way, like he does many times to me, on or off the pitch.

"Or when I hug him, when there is a substitution, or when sometimes he touches the referee as well or an opponent.

"If I'd seen some aggression, maybe. But I think it was normal as I know him perfectly. He's been a huge star in the world, but he's humble, one of the nicest people I've met.

"What is important is his intention, and his intention was normal, to talk to her in a normal way. It was not a bad word, it was just normal."

Guardiola likened the reaction to the one Bernardo Silva received for a controversial social media post involving team-mate Benjamin Mendy last year.

Silva apologised after posting a picture of a cartoon character promoting a chocolate brand in Spain next to a photo of Mendy with a caption reading: "Guess who?"

The apparent reference to Mendy's race led to a one-match ban and a £50,000 fine, while Silva was ordered to undergo educational training.

"It's the same with what happened with Bernardo. I know him perfectly well, it was a joke and this was a normal situation," Guardiola added.

"I know perfectly, it's like Bernardo and what he had with Mendy. They are brothers and he was suspended."

Substitute Ferran Torres was among the scorers as Manchester City earned a 3-1 comeback win against Porto in Wednesday's Champions League opener after Luis Diaz's impressive solo strike.

City were eliminated at the quarter-final stage for the third year running last season and their latest attempt at winning the competition got off to a somewhat shaky start at the Etihad Stadium.

Diaz profited from some poor defending to race through and open the scoring but the Portuguese champions were pegged back after Pepe gave away a penalty from which Sergio Aguero converted, ending his longest goalscoring drought of 231 days.

Ilkay Gundogan scored a set-piece of his own with a dipping free-kick and close-seasonTorres netted five minutes after being brought off the bench as City turned the game on its head to make a winning start to their Group C campaign.

Porto had failed to score in their previous seven away encounters with English clubs in Europe but had to wait just 14 minutes for that drought to end.

Diaz embarked on an impressive solo run that saw him carry the ball from 45 yards out, evade a number of half-hearted challenges and drill a precise shot past Ederson.

City were given a chance to hit back six minutes later, however, as Pepe clattered into Raheem Sterling moments after Gundogan struck the outside of the post.

The penalty was awarded after a lengthy VAR check for a possible Gundogan foul on Agustin Marchesin, who got a hand to Aguero's spot-kick but could not keep it out.

Mateus Uribe fired over following a poor pass from Ederson and Kyle Walker hooked the ball off the line to spare Ruben Dias' blushes as Porto ended the first half on top.

The visitors dropped off slightly after the break and were undone in the 65th minute by Gundogan's set-piece brilliance, the Germany midfielder lifting the ball up and over the wall after being fouled by Fabio Vieira.

The game was put out of Porto's reach when Torres played a one-two with fellow substitute Phil Foden and crashed past Marchesin.

Following a scuffle between Sterling and Pepe, who had a running battle throughout, Rodri went close to adding a fourth late on as Marchesin pushed his 30-yarder onto the post.

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.

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.

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."

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus is set to be sidelined until at least the middle of next month after he was withdrawn from Brazil's squad to face Bolivia and Peru in their opening 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

The nature of Jesus' injury has not been disclosed, although the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) confirmed in a statement that City informed them of 23-year-old's setback on Wednesday.

"The English team contacted the doctor of the Brazilian National Team, Rodrigo Lasmar, reporting the athlete's injury detected after the game against Wolves on Monday in the Premier League," the statement read.

Hertha Berlin forward Matheus Cunha has been added to Tite's squad, earning a first senior call-up after top scoring for Brazil's Under-23s in the CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament earlier this year.

Jesus completed the scoring in an impressive 3-1 win at Molineux and looked set for an extended run in Pep Guardiola's starting XI, especially as Sergio Aguero continues his rehabilitation from meniscus surgery.

As it is, the City boss will now be without a specialist senior centre-forward for Sunday's visit of Leicester City, with an EFL Cup tie at Burnley and a Premier League trip to Leeds United to negotiate before the international break that Jesus will miss.

Teenage striker Liam Delap marked his senior debut in Thursday's cup tie against Bournemouth with a well-taken goal and gives Guardiola an intriguing option in up front, although it is more likely Raheem Sterling will revert to a central attacking role in the league, with Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne among the options who could be deployed as a false nine.

After overcoming Bournemouth 2-1, Guardiola bemoaned the fact he might only have 13 senior players fit to face Leicester.

Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Oleksandr Zinchenko all returned from the previous international break with injuries and Nicolas Otamendi missed out in midweek due to "niggles", although the Argentina centre-back has since been touted as a makeweight in a reported deal to bring Ruben Dias to City from Benfica.

Ilkay Gundogan contracted coronavirus last week and Aymeric Laporte is yet to feature this season having only recently returned to training after his own positive test for COVID-19.

Manchester City could be without star striker Sergio Aguero for the first two months of their Premier League campaign.

Aguero missed the conclusion of last season, including City's dispiriting 3-1 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Lyon, after suffering meniscus damage during June's 5-0 win over Burnley.

The 32-year-old Argentina international had to undergo surgery and was operated on in Barcelona by Dr Ramon Cugat, City manager Pep Guardiola's preferred surgeon.

Initially there had been hope Aguero could play a part in the latter stages of the 2019-20 Champions League and the player posted footage of himself dribbling a ball at City's Etihad Campus training base to social media this week.

But Guardiola looks set to be without the club's all-time leading scorer for a considerable time beyond Monday's trip to face a Wolves side who beat City twice last season.

"We knew that the injury was difficult," Guardiola said. "He is doing the [recovery], in maybe one month or two months he will be ready.

"Two months, because he has to come back on the pitch and regain the physical condition.

"Sergio was out for a long time and Sergio is not a guy who regains the physical condition quick, so I think in one month or two months he will be ready."

The time-frame outlined by Guardiola could mean Aguero misses City's first three Champions League group games of the season, along with Liverpool's visit to the Etihad Stadium on November 7.

Opta focus - Sterling and Jesus must find clinical edge in Aguero's absence

Earlier in the transfer window, it appeared possible Guardiola would have Aguero's international team-mate Lionel Messi to call upon.

As it is, a considerable weight of the attacking burden at City will now fall upon Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling.

Sterling and Jesus enjoyed their most prolific seasons individually in 2019-20, scoring 31 and 23 goals respectively across all competitions.

However, both missed glorious chances during the second half of that sapping defeat to Lyon, with Sterling's particularly glaring as he blazed over a gaping goal from five yards.

A look at how the Brazil and England forwards compare to Aguero in terms of their Premier League numbers does suggest City might be found wanting when it comes to having a clinical edge.

Although Sterling outscored Aguero in the English top flight for the first time in his career last term - scoring 20 to his team-mate's 16 - the former Atletico Madrid striker's goals came at a rate of one every 91 minutes, compared to Sterling's average of one every 133 minutes. Jesus' 14 Premier League goals came in at one every 144.8 minutes.

Aguero's conversion rate of 21.05 per cent also stood above his team-mates, although Sterling ran him close on 20.2 per cent. Jesus netted from 13.86 per cent of his 101 shots, which amounted to more attempts than Sterling (99) and Aguero (76).

However, the spectre of the Lyon game looms - as it does over much surrounding Guardiola and his squad for their forthcoming season - when considering Opta's 'big chances' metric.

Despite his well-earned reputation, Aguero was not infallible in such situations, converting 52 per cent of his big chances with 13 scored and 12 missed.

Sterling's big chance conversion rate was 42.2 per cent, with 19 missed and 14 scored, while Jesus scored from only 29.4 per cent of his most gilt-edged opportunities.

The 23-year-old Jesus missed 24 big chances, netting only 10. Those are numbers that will have to improve considerably in Aguero's absence if Guardiola's City are to once again locate the relentless rhythm that brought them back-to-back Premier League titles and make a case for dethroning Liverpool.

Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne led the tributes as David Silva brought his trophy-laden spell at Manchester City to an end.

Having signed a short-term contract extension amid the coronavirus crisis to keep him at City until the end of the campaign, Silva finally ended his 10-year stint at Etihad Stadium following the club's defeat to Lyon in the Champions League on Saturday.

It was ultimately a disappointing end for the 34-year-old, who joined City from LaLiga club Valencia in 2010 and went on to win four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the EFL Cup on five occasions.

On Monday, City revealed plans to immortalise Silva in statue form, while the World Cup-winning midfielder will also have a bespoke mosaic dedicated to him, reflecting his contribution to the 6-1 defeat of Manchester United in 2011.

Former team-mate Aguero, who joined City a year after Silva, paid tribute to the playmaker on Twitter.

"We learned a lot from you. Everyday," Aguero tweeted. "You made Man City bigger and you made us better. It was an honour to have shared all these years with you and with so many achievements. We will miss you. All the best in what comes. Eternally thank you."

In their nine years together, Silva and Aguero combined for more goals than any other partnership in Premier League history bar Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

"We play really close to each other and Kun is the one who needs to score goals because he is the striker," Silva told City's official website in a wide-ranging interview released on Monday.

"I am only there to help him and create the chances for him to score goals and in this case I am happy because I think I helped him.

"The stats are there, I gave him lots of assists and to be fair he makes it very easy because he knows how to find the spaces and he is clinical in front of goal.

"Yes, of course [he is one of the best strikers in the world]. He has been playing at a very high level for so many years, scoring lots of goals, which is very hard to achieve."

As Silva has become a more irregular feature in City's starting XI, his fellow midfielder De Bruyne has gone from strength to strength, and the Belgium playmaker also used social media to pay tribute to the Spain international.

"Sad to see this man leave the club after an incredible 10 years," De Bruyne posted on Instagram. "It was an honour to play with and wish you all the best in the future my friend."

Meanwhile, Silva – who has been linked with Lazio – is satisfied with everything he has achieved at City.

"We converted City into a winning club and this is a good thing despite the higher demands," he said.

"This is something good and our fans deserve it after all the years without winning silverware.

"At the end what matters are the collective awards because this is a team effort. I am happy enough with the people who enjoy watching me play football every week – fans, team-mates, people I work with. Having their appreciation is enough."

Pep Guardiola looks set to have to contend without Sergio Aguero as the Manchester City boss warned there will be no margin for error in Saturday's Champions League showdown with Lyon.

The tournament's revised format means the two clubs will meet in a straight knockout game in Lisbon, having each come through tough two-legged ties to reach the quarter-finals.

While City ousted Real Madrid, Lyon got the better of Juventus, a result which in itself put Guardiola – who all but ruled Aguero out – on high alert.

On the subject of his talismanic striker, who had knee surgery in June, the City boss said: "He is still in Barcelona making a recovery."

Speaking about the threat of this weekend's Ligue 1 opponents, Guardiola said: "We saw the games against Juventus, some other games in the French league.

"They are organised, aggressive, so fast. People up front, wing-backs, the quality in the team is something else.

"This is a quarter-final. It won't be easy.

"The pressure is always there, we try to do our best like the other teams. We saw how tight it was in the last two [Champions League knockout] games, tomorrow will be no exception.

"It's a final so it's one game. We'll try to avoid mistakes so they can't punish us."

Guardiola felt the exceptional circumstances imposed by coronavirus have brought the best of out his players and he has even managed to enjoy some wining and dining in Portugal.

He said: "I am proud of how they have been these two or three weeks. Since lockdown they have been incredibly focused.

"We ate good, we drink good wine here in Portugal and now is the time to show ourselves.

"I want to see my team be who they are, do everything they do in their soul, their minds and after that the football will dictate if we deserve it."

A European triumph would represent a fine way for David Silva to conclude his long and illustrious City career, and Guardiola revealed the midfield maestro is primed and ready.

"Absolutely he is ready," Guardiola said. "The way he has trained and the mentality, I am really impressed.

"We all know it was a pity his last game in the Etihad was without the people. But he will be back when the people can come back and he will get what he deserves."

Juventus and Inter are reportedly ready to do battle for Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo.

Zaniolo, 21, made his return from a serious knee injury this month and has repeatedly been linked with a move away from Roma.

A pair of Serie A giants may be ready to fight for the midfielder's services.

 

TOP STORY – INTER, JUVE TO BATTLE FOR ZANIOLO

Inter are ready to challenge Juventus to sign Roma star Zaniolo, according to CalcioMercato.

Zaniolo is considered one of Europe's best young talents, and left Inter for Roma in 2018.

Roma reportedly want at least €50million for the five-time Italy international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Contracted at Manchester City until 2021, Sergio Aguero may yet stay at the Etihad Stadium a little longer. The Mirror reports City have not ruled out giving the star forward, 32, a one-year extension.

- With Neymar repeatedly linked with a return to Barcelona, it seems the LaLiga giants are wanting to distance themselves from the Paris Saint-Germain star. Marca says Barca are keen to see the rumours of a potential return for Neymar stop.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barcelona apparently have interest in two players from Tottenham. The Daily Star says Barca want Ryan Sessegnon and Tanguy Ndombele. However, it reports Spurs will reject all offers for Sessegnon this close season.

- Philippe Coutinho's future remains unclear. Mundo Deportivo reports the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona until the end of the season, will not decide his future until after the Champions League next month.

- Plenty of talk continues to surround Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is coming out of contract at the Premier League club next year. The Daily Star reports the forward will sign a contract extension with Arsenal – if no other club makes an official approach.

- After just two goals in 25 games for Real Madrid, Luka Jovic seems set for an exit. According to Mundo Deportivo, Juventus, Inter, Chelsea, Leicester City, Milan and Napoli are all considering moves for the forward.

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". 

A couple of days on, Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Southampton – their ninth loss of a limp and unsuccessful Premier League title defence – still appeared to be irritating Pep Guardiola.

How had it happened again? Such wastefulness.

Guardiola warned his players their FA Cup and Champions League hopes will go up in smoke if they remain so profligate, with his suggested remedy sounding more like exasperation than a practical solution.

"The only solution when you create 26 chances [and don't win] is to do 35," he said, recalling the precise number of attempts City had without scoring on England's south coast last weekend.

"And if 35 is not enough, 40. And if 40 is not enough, 45."

The City manager stopped before his chances to minutes ratio ran away from him entirely, but his team do create a phenomenal amount of opportunities.

In a Premier League table compiled using results from each game returned by Opta's Expected Goals (xG) metric, City would be top and not a mammoth 23 points in arrears.

Put simply, if fairly absurdly, the division's top scorers have a goalscoring problem.

NO SALVATION FOR JESUS

Sergio Aguero's knee-injury absence means Gabriel Jesus is City's only fit senior striker. This is certainly not the best time for the Brazil international to be enduring a nine-match goal drought.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's home game against Newcastle United, Guardiola made a point of praising Jesus' performance at Southampton, but his numbers make for grim reading.

Of the five opportunities Opta classified as big chances to pass the visitors by at St Mary's, Jesus spurned three of them. His xG figure for that barren showing was 1.36.

In 29 Premier League appearances, the 23-year-old has scored 10 times in 2019-20. This is a significant under-performance of his 14.7 xG.

Jesus' big-chance conversion rate is 25 per cent. No City player has enjoyed more than his 28 opportunities of that sort, yet just seven have ended up in the net.

However, as noted above, this is a team-wide problem for which Jesus is currently – albeit somewhat understandably – the main scapegoat.

THREE AND NOT SO EASY

As of Monday, there had been 24 occasions this Premier League season when a team registered an xG in excess of three during a single match.

City have done so six times, more than any other club. However, their xG of 3.25 against Southampton means they are also the only team to have lost when racking up such a dominant statistic.

Burnley's 3.15 xG only amounted to a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham, but in the other 22 instances, the team creating such a high volume of quality chances prevailed.

City also had an xG of exactly three during their 2-2 draw at home to Spurs last August - an outcome Guardiola still frequently references when assessing where the campaign went awry.

AGUERO LEADS THE WAY

City's all-time leading goalscorer, Aguero turned 32 last month and is out of contract at the end of next season.

The team's recent struggles arguably give an uncomfortable insight into the not-too-distant future. None of Guardiola's other main forward options are as reliably clinical or prolific.

Aguero' 16 Premier League goals this season arrived at a frequency of one every 91 minutes. In contrast to Jesus, he out-performed his xG of 14.6. The Argentina international converted 13 of 25 big chances (52 per cent).

Raheem Sterling was on target during the recent comprehensive wins over Arsenal and Liverpool, but his haul of 13 dips below an xG mark of 14.8, in part due to 10 of 26 big chances being finished off (38 per cent).

MAHREZ AND FODEN OFFER HOPE

Elsewhere, Opta's numbers show not all City players should despair when confronted with a sight of goal.

Riyad Mahrez has an xG projection of six Premier League goals this term, but is up to nine in reality.  The former Leicester City winger isn't entirely immune to the jitters, however, with four of his six big chances missed.

Perhaps the situation calls for bold belief of a special young talent.

Phil Foden's provides a smaller sample size in terms of minutes played, yet the England Under-21 star has four goals despite an xG figure of 1.3.

All of those goals – a brace against Burnley in between strikes versus Arsenal and Liverpool – have come since lockdown and Foden is two from two when it comes to big chances.

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