After a number of false dawns since Alex Ferguson's retirement from coaching, Manchester United are reportedly looking to make a splash with Erik ten Hag.

West Ham's Declan Rice has emerged as one of Europe's premier defensive midfielders and is seen as a key piece in a potential rebuild.

According to reports, this off-season might be the time West Ham and Rice's representatives look to cash in.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TO MAKE RECORD PLAY FOR RICE

Manchester United are ready to break their transfer record and make him a marquee signing under new boss Erik ten Hag, according to 90Min.

It is understood West Ham made an offer to extend Rice's contract last year, but ultimately, the Hammers would be unable to compete with likely wage offers elsewhere.

For Rice, United appear willing to break their transfer record set in 2016 for Paul Pogba, a midfielder who has never really found a set position or provided a return on sizeable investment.

They would face stiff competition from Manchester City and Chelsea, who are also keen on the 23-year-old England international.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are preparing a deal to sign Leeds United and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, per the Manchester Evening News.

Brazil are willing to offer Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola a substantial salary to follow on from Tite as the country's national team manager, according to Marca.

Everton boss Frank Lampard has the confidence of club owner Farhad Moshiri and the board, despite the Toffees' relegation battle, the Daily Mail reports.

– The Athletic has reported RB Leipzig and Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol has emerged as a target for Tottenham .

Pep Guardiola's considers Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel as "one of the few" managers he still learns from.

Guardiola's Manchester City play host to Tuchel and the Blues on Saturday in the standout match of the weekend's Premier League schedule.

City head into the game with a 10-point lead over second-placed Chelsea – only four times before have the Premier League leaders had a bigger lead over their nearest challengers after 21 matches.

On each of those occasions, the team with the lead has gone on to win the title, and victory over Chelsea could see City end the weekend with a 13-point advantage as long as Liverpool do not beat Brentford.

City will certainly be considered favourites given the impressive job they did on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in September, only winning 1-0 but outplaying Tuchel's side practically throughout.

Despite that wobble from Chelsea and the fact City have a healthy lead at the summit, Guardiola still counts Tuchel among the few rivals he looks to for inspiration.

"He's so creative, one of the few managers I learn constantly from, to become a better manager myself," Guardiola told reporters.

"Excellent in all departments. I enjoy since he was in Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, always I enjoy watching his teams and the way he's playing, the approach.

"I think he's dignified and he makes world of football better. When you find a manager who always wants to be positive in the way they play, it's good."

Earlier in the day, Tuchel revealed his regret at Chelsea going too defensive in their clash with City at Stamford Bridge.

City were the far greater threat, attempting three times as many shots as Chelsea (15 to five), who did not test Ederson once.

Chelsea accumulated just 11 touches in the opposition's box compared to City's 34, while the visitors' 1.47 expected goals (xG) suggested Tuchel's side were somewhat fortunate to concede just once.

Tuchel's comments would hint at Chelsea turning up in Manchester with a more positive approach, and that appears to be what Guardiola is preparing for.

"I can't imagine what is going to happen. If he didn't like how they played at home, they play different away," he said.

"Seeing the Liverpool game and both Tottenham games, I saw Chelsea as completely different at Tottenham than they played at Stamford Bridge.

"I don't know if the plan was like this, or they couldn't do it. With this quote, I presume the approach that Chelsea will have tomorrow.

"Every game is completely different, [our] performance was really good, minimising the Champions of Europe when all players were fit and there.

"It was really exceptional. In that moment we were below them, knowing the difficulties if we didn't get the points. Our commitment with and without the ball was exceptional.

"We won unfortunately with a small margin, we couldn't score much more. We had three one-on-one situations, but the victory was nice.

"[Saturday] will be completely different. We learned from that, like how we can be better especially in attack, [so] they will change, like their manager said, their approach. They know they need points to be still there [in the title race]."

The debate around coronavirus-enforced postponements reared its head again after Burnley had their game with Leicester City called off, but Guardiola – who confirmed his side have had more positive COVID-19 cases – did not want to get into it.

"It's a Premier League decision," he said. "I don't get involved. COVID is all around the world. The situation is there, in the next two or three months it will still be there, hopefully it will decrease step by step."

On City's cases, he added: "Some people are coming, some are positive again. When you test once, twice negative, then you come back, otherwise you stay at home.

"It happened in the last two-three months affecting all the clubs. We have some new cases, they want privacy so I can't say who."

Pep Guardiola is not concerned about a lack of attacking options after Manchester City missed out on landing Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Though it appears City will not add a striker in the summer transfer window that ends Tuesday, the manager said there are plenty of players on hand to score goals. 

Jack Grealish will be expected to top that list after his £100million move from Aston Villa, but he will not be alone. 

Guardiola said he also will lean on the likes of Raheem Sterling, Ferran Torres, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez and mentioned 18-year-old Liam Delap as a potential contributor once he returns from a foot injury. 

"We have not a typical striker like Liam but we can find alternatives," Guardiola said ahead of Saturday's clash with Arsenal. 

"I always believe like in these last years we scored a lot of goals playing with or without a striker. We have to play better, try to achieve the level of intensity of desire and hunger that we had against Norwich and be consistent in every single game doing this.

"This is the target and play better in the process and the high pressing. When we defend deep, be more solid. Improve our set-pieces. That is what we want to do and that is what we are going to try."

While Guardiola did not close the door on City adding another player in the transfer window, he said he does not expect anyone from the current squad to depart in the coming days. 

Either way, Guardiola said the reigning Premier League champions are confident going forward with the players already in the dressing room. 

"We cannot forget how good we have done in the recent past with the same squad that we have," he said.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola refused to be drawn on speculation linking the Premier League champions with Tottenham star Harry Kane.

Kane has reportedly told Tottenham he wants to leave, sparking apparent interest from City, neighbours Manchester United and Chelsea.

Speaking after City's 3-2 Premier League defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday, Guardiola declined to fuel the rumours.

"Next question," Guardiola said during his post-match news conference. "He's a Tottenham Hotspurs player. Please."

Kane's future is unclear given his ambition to win trophies which has been unfulfilled at boyhood club Spurs.

City are in the market for a new forward with free agent Sergio Aguero exiting this off-season, although the club have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Meanwhile, Guardiola insisted he was not concerned by City's recent form ahead of the Champions League final against Premier League rivals Chelsea on May 29.

Guardiola's City have lost two of their past three matches, conceding eight goals in the process.

City have lost six Premier League games having led by two or more goals – only Tottenham (eight) have suffered more such defeats in the competition's history.

Against Brighton, City's possession figure was just 37 per cent, the lowest recorded by a side managed by Guardiola in a single top-flight match.

"On Sunday, with our people, we are going to lift the trophy," Guardiola said. "And after we are going to go for the final of the Champions League.

"I am concerned because this is the final of the Champions League, because the opponent is so tough. I saw incredible things today in the pitch with 11 against 10 for 80 minutes in the Premier League.

"We are fortunate to lift the [Premier League] trophy and we did it ourselves. Nobody gave us absolutely anything; nothing.

"That's why I am so proud of the team; it means how difficult is the Premier League again, and now we're going to prepare as best as possible for the final of the Champions League."

Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola voiced his concerns about the European Super League internally but says there is no problem with his relationship with the club's hierarchy.

City were the first club to withdraw from the European Super League which received widespread condemnation about its announcement last week.

Guardiola mentioned earlier this week that he opposed a league without relegation and had voiced similar concerns at the concept within the four walls of the club.

"It was not difficult because before I make a statement we spoke about that, and they completely agree, and that’s why I tell you," Guardiola said.

"I love this club – I love Ferran [Soriano, chief executive], Txiki [Begiristain, sporting director], Khaldoon [Al Mubarak, chairman] and the people who work in the club – we work together.

"Since I arrived here we were all together in all the decisions.

"I make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes – the guys who take decisions make mistakes, the guys who are sitting and judging what the others do make mistakes.

"Sometimes you are wrong. What’s the problem? We react and we apologise and move forward."

Soriano put out a message to the club's fans earlier in the week, saying that the board deeply regretted its actions.

Pep Guardiola insists Raheem Sterling is an "extraordinary player" and will get more opportunities despite falling out of favour.

Sterling has only started three of Manchester City's past 10 matches in all competitions, with Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez usurping him.

"Raheem is an extraordinary player – he was, is and will be," the City head coach said.

"The reason why he has not played as regularly as in previous seasons is because Phil and Riyad are in top, top form. That is the only reason.

"But opportunities are going to come and he has to be ready to show his quality, freshness in his mind and to play with the incredible strength he has."

The 26-year-old England winger had been a key figure for City earlier in the campaign but his recent run has led to some concerns about his international readiness ahead of the European Championships.

Guardiola insisted that Sterling will get more opportunities as City compete for three different trophies, having lost their quadruple dream after last week's FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea.

"For national managers, I’m not involved, but I would love it for him," Guardiola said. "I would love the players here to go with their national teams at the Euros.

"Him, Nathan [Ake], Eric [Garcia], John [Stones] – all the players who are here. It is a fantastic event to play in, the Euros.

"The only way is to let him play. After, it depends on them. It is not about confidence. They have our confidence – if not, they would not be here.

"The quality is there. It’s not a case of: he doesn't have confidence and then by talking to me, he is confident.

"They are top-class players and they have to get the confidence from inside themselves: ‘I am going to show how good I am.'

"It’s the only secret. They have to show every time they have the quality."

John Stones deserves an England national team recall, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

The 26-year-old defender scored City's opening goal in Saturday's 3-0 win away to Fulham in the Premier League.

Stones has been in excellent form for the league leaders in recent months, prompting talk of an England call-up for the first time since November 2019.

He had lost his place in the City line-up but fought back to become a key member this season, making 25 appearances in all competitions, including 18 starts in the league.

England manager Gareth Southgate will announce a squad next week for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

"He deserves it," Guardiola said.

"Of course Gareth Southgate knows better than me what he needs but just in case it happens, the one person who would be delighted and happy about his comeback in the national team, would be me.

"It was another great performance, apart from the goal which was so important, the way he played."

Stones has 39 caps to his name since his England debut in 2014.

He was part of England's 2018 World Cup squad, scoring twice in the 6-1 win over Panama.

Manchester City defender Ruben Dias says the mentality within the squad is like nothing he has ever experienced before, ominously pointing to an "infinite ambition" to win. 

City are 12 points clear in the Premier League title race, while they are also still alive in the Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup as they pursue a possible four trophies in 2020-21. 

Portugal international Dias, 23, joined City from Benfica in September and has been a key figure in their outstanding campaign, making 32 appearances in all competitions and scoring in Saturday's 2-1 win over West Ham. 

"What makes the team is all of us," Dias said. 

"Everyone brings a special attribute, but the team survives because all of us are good and have the right mentality. 

"We have that infinite ambition of all of us wanting to win. I have never seen this in any team or club like I am experiencing now. 

"This desire of everyone wanting to be a part of it and wanting to be on this top level and win more and more and more, that is what makes this team."

He also pointed to the influence of manager Pep Guardiola, who has revived City this season after an underwhelming 2019-20 campaign where they were Premier League runners-up and won only the EFL Cup.

Dias said Guardiola's experience and knowledge had helped instil City's winning mentality.

"Pep is definitely one of the most important roles in all of this," Dias said.

"The way he makes us believe in each game, the solutions he gives us so we can achieve more than our opponents and that will always be a turning point; the quality of the players in our team, if they are smart enough to understand what he is saying, what he wants.

"But major credit to him and to see what he sees in our opponents to give us the way through."

City are at home to Wolves in the Premier League on Tuesday.

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