Manchester City can solely rely on goals from their wingers and midfielders in the absence of a true number nine in the Premier League this season, according to former striker Paul Dickov.

City regained their domestic crown last term, finishing 12 points clear of second-placed Manchester United in the Premier League, while scoring 83 goals along the way, though just 13 of those came from recognised centre-forwards.

Gabriel Jesus scored nine goals, while Sergio Aguero – who has since joined Barcelona – contributed with just four having missed much of the campaign through injury.

Ilkay Gundogan top-scored with 13 goals in midfield, with winger Raheem Sterling notching 10 and Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez each netting on nine occasions as Ferran Torres added seven of his own.

Similarly this term, just two of City's 14 Premier League strikes have come courtesy of Brazil international Jesus – Torres has played in a forward role and scored twice but the Spaniard is not a true centre-forward.

Following Aguero's departure to Camp Nou, Tottenham striker Harry Kane was heavily linked with a move to City but a transfer did not materialise, while the likes of Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland have been linked.

Nevertheless, Scotsman Dickov is confident his former club have the credentials to cope without a main marksman once more.

"The answer at the minute is yes because we've seen that last season," Dickov, who spent two spells with City between 1996-2002 and 2006-2008, told Stats Perform. "I know Sergio Aguero was still at the club, but he missed the majority of it. 

"But Manchester City went on to win [the Premier League title] really quite easily playing without an actual number nine, and they've shown again this season that they can do it. 

"If Manchester City don't win the league this season, everybody's going to be saying it's because they've not got that number nine and the reliance has been on the midfielders and the false number nine to score the goals. But at the minute, you've got to say that they're not missing one.

"I think if Manchester City comes to January and they're still fighting for the top of league and still in the Champions League, people can say that Pep's been right again."

Dickov believes City's decision not to continue their pursuit of Kane demonstrates their own belief in the current quality of the squad.

"Knowing Manchester City as I do – as a club and as a board and how they do their transfers – they will identify players or a player and they will do what they can to get them," the 48-year-old added.

"They will not – especially over recent seasons – be held to ransom and pay over the odds. 

"I think when the new owners first came in, to get Manchester City onto a level they had to pay more money to get the players.

"But over the last few years, they now feel as though they don't have to. I think with the Harry Kane one, he was obviously the player that they wanted.

"If they didn't get him, they weren't going to settle for second best because they believe that the players within the squad – after what happened last season and the addition of Jack Grealish – were good enough to take them to the next level, and for them to retain the title this year."

Dusan Vlahovic decision not to extend his Fiorentina contract is set to spark a bidding war.

Fiorentina had been hopeful of re-signing their star forward.

Now, Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Serbia international.

 

TOP STORY – VLAHOVIC EYEING JUVE MOVE

Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic is dreaming of a move to Juventus, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Vlahovic's future is a hot topic after Fiorentina announced the Serbia international will not re-sign in Florence.

Contracted to Fiorentina until 2023, Vlahovic has been tipped to make the move to Juve like former Viola team-mate Federico Chiesa, while Manchester City, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Inter and Arsenal have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport says City forward Raheem Sterling is open to a loan move to Barcelona in January. Sterling has found himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola in Manchester.

Manchester United are prioritising a new right-back in January to provide competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, reports 90min. Rangers' Nathan Patterson and Max Aarons of Norwich City have been linked.

- It is only a matter of weeks before Lautaro Martinez extends his Inter contract, per Fabrizio Romano. Inter are also set to open talks with midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

- Roma have re-opened talks to sign Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. Zakaria is out of contract at the end of the season, though Roma are set to try to bring in the Gladbach star in January. 

- The Daily Mail claims Tottenham are eyeing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger. The Germany international is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, Real Madrid and Atletico.

Milan are monitoring Salzburg trio Luka Sucic, Brenden Aaronson and Maurtis Kjaergaard, according to Calciomercato.

Raheem Sterling has praised the "fantastic job" done by Gareth Southgate in helping to change the perception of the England team, both with the national media and the supporters.

After a spell as interim boss, Southgate was appointed on a permanent basis in November 2016. Since then, he has steered England to a World Cup semi-final and the Euro 2020 final, where the Three Lions lost on penalties to Italy.

Sterling has been a key member of the squad during the current reign, having made his international debut under Rory Hodgson back in 2012.

"I feel like when I first went into the camp, it was very much them versus us, the media versus the players," Sterling, who has won 70 international caps and scored 18 goals, said in an interview with Sky Sports.

"When Gareth came in, he made it very clear what his intentions were, they were to make England challenge on all fronts, make us challenge at Euros and World Cups.

"If we were to do that, we had to change the perception in the media, public and us the players – we all had to be one if we wanted to achieve something with the national team.

"From the moment he [Southgate] came in, he really tried to work on building that relationship with the media and the fans and I think he's done a fantastic job at doing that."

The Manchester City forward scored three goals in the European Championship run, with the team as a whole embracing the opportunity to play on home soil in all bar one of their fixtures.

England have shown few signs of suffering a Euros hangover since the agonising defeat to Italy at Wembley Stadium; they sit top of their group in World Cup qualifying, despite a late equaliser by Poland last month ending their 100 per cent record.

Ahead of games against Andorra and Hungary, Sterling made clear how much the players appreciate the support they receive when representing their country.

"I think the fans are reconnected with the players again and you can see it when you go into the games, the players feel loved," Sterling added.

"Going into the games, even in the summer, you didn't feel any pressure. People might say 'you played every game at Wembley', but that's huge pressure as you're at home and people expect things from you."

Arsenal spent almost £150million on new recruits during the last transfer window.

But the club are reportedly set to let Alexandre Lacazette go, leaving them short in experienced attacking options.

Manager Mikel Arteta is known as a meticulous planner and wants to be ready for Lacazette's departure.


TOP STORY – GUNNERS SET SIGHTS ON DCL AND WATKINS

Arsenal have Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins in their sights as they plan for Lacazette's exit, so say The Sun.

Lacazette is in the final year of his contract and the Gunners are unlikely to offer him a new deal, meaning he will depart either in January or at the end of the season as a free agent.

Arteta wants back-up to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and has the England forwards on the club's shortlist.

 

ROUND-UP

– Cash-strapped Barcelona have €16m to spend in the January transfer window according to Mundo Deportivo, with the publication also claiming Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling is among their top targets, potentially on loan given their financial challenges.

Robert Lewandowski appears to have had a change of heart and will renew his deal with Bayern Munich, reports Fichajes. The star striker had been linked with a move away from the Bundesliga champions.

– MilanNews.it reports that Milan are in negotiations with head coach Stefano Pioli about extending his contract following a bright start to the season.

– Man City are keeping an eye on Barcelona's 19-year-old midfielder Nico Gonzalez, according to Fichajes.

Could Darwin Nunez be the next Benfica star to make a big move?

Portuguese sensation Joao Felix swapped Benfica for Atletico Madrid in a club-record deal in 2019.

Now, Uruguay international Nunez is attracting interest from across Europe.

 

TOP STORY – CITY FRONT OF QUEUE FOR NUNEZ

Manchester City are leading the race to sign Darwin Nunez from Portuguese giants Benfica, according to the Daily Star.

Premier League champions City are desperate to sign a forward amid links with Tottenham's Harry Kane, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic.

Nunez has also reportedly attracted interest from BarcelonaLiverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

– United forward Edinson Cavani could join Real Madrid in January, claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Cavani finds himself battling Cristiano Ronaldo for regular game time at Old Trafford, where the club's hierarchy are concerned amid their form under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

- The Daily Star reports Arsenal are weighing up a move for out-of-favour City forward Raheem SterlingBarca are also believed to be interested in Sterling, according to The Sun, as they face the prospect of missing out on Leipzig's Dani Olmo. The Spain international has been linked with United, Juventus and Bayern.

Liverpool are eyeing Pogon Szczecin midfielder Kacper Kozlowski, says the Mirror. The 17-year-old has been linked with Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, RB Leipzig and Salzburg.

Hungary have been ordered to play two home games, one suspended for two years, behind closed doors following the racial abuse of England players during their World Cup qualifier.

A 4-0 thrashing by Gareth Southgate's side in early September was overshadowed by reports of racial abuse directed at Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham by the home fans.

Objects were seen flying in Sterling's direction after his opener, with alleged monkey chants also coming from inside the Puskas Arena, as England coasted to victory.

FIFA's Disciplinary Committee has also issued the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) a fine of 200,000 Swiss francs (£158,000), with a qualifier against Albania on October 9 the game that will be played without spectators in Budapest.

A suspended penalty of a second game was imposed by the world's governing body for a probationary period of two years.

"After analysing and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, specifically the seriousness of the incidents (racist words and actions, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks, blocked stairways), the Committee decided that the MLSZ would play its next two home matches in FIFA competitions without spectators, the second match being suspended for a probationary period of two years," a FIFA statement released on Tuesday read.

"FIFA's position remains firm and resolute in rejecting any form of racism and violence as well as any other form of discrimination or abuse. FIFA takes a clear zero tolerance stance against such abhorrent behaviour in football."

This is not the first time Hungary have been punished by football's governing bodies. In July, Hungary were ordered to play three UEFA home competition matches without supporters after incidents of racism and homophobia at Euro 2020.

The ban applies only to UEFA competitions and so will not come into effect until the next edition of the Nations League, which will be held between June and September 2022.

Manchester United and Liverpool have been urged by Rio Ferdinand to consider rescuing Raheem Sterling from "the wilderness" at Manchester City.

Sterling has played a big part in helping City to three Premier League titles since arriving from Liverpool in 2015, but his playing time has reduced this season.

The England international, who was late returning for pre-season training after reaching the Euro 2020 final with his country, has started two of City's six matches this term in all competitions.

He was linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium during the close season at a time when Pep Guardiola's side were trying to bring in striker Harry Kane from Tottenham.

Barcelona are reported to be showing an interest in signing Sterling on loan in January, meanwhile, and fellow LaLiga giants Real Madrid have also been credited with an interest.

United great Ferdinand is unsure why Guardiola has not used Sterling more often of late and believes the 26-year-old will have plenty of suitors waiting should his situation not improve.

"Where is Raheem Sterling? He's lost confidence because he’s been taken out of the team," Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel.

"He was the go-to guy when they needed a goal, for so many years, and now all of a sudden he's in the wilderness. I'm baffled by it, I just don't understand. 

"With Pep, he gets things right more often than not, but with this one there must be clubs sitting there going, 'Let's see how this pans out because I would take Sterling all day!'

"If I'm Liverpool, I'd buy Sterling tomorrow... If I'm him, I wouldn't go to Barcelona or Real Madrid right now, that's why I said Liverpool. Man United will take him!"

Sterling finished as City's top scorer in the Premier League two seasons ago with 20 goals in 33 games, while his 10 goals last season were bettered only by Ilkay Gundogan (13).

Since Guardiola's first campaign at City in 2016-17, Sterling has been directly involved in 160 goals in all competitions – 104 goals of his own and 56 assists.

No City player has directly contributed to more goals across that period, while only 14 others in Europe's top five leagues can better that return, with Lionel Messi (309) leading the way.

Former Liverpool attacker Sterling has played just 265 minutes so far this season, however, with his only two starts coming in the two games City failed to score in, against Tottenham and Southampton.

Could Raheem Sterling leave Premier League champions Manchester City?

The Englishman has slipped down the pecking order in 2021-22.

LaLiga giants Barcelona are reportedly ready to offer Sterling regular football.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA INTERESTED IN STERLING

Barcelona are targeting a loan move for Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, according to Sport.

Sterling has fallen out of favour under Pep Guardiola this season, leading to speculation over his City future.

The England international is reportedly open to reunion with former City team-mate Sergio Aguero at Barca.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Independent claims Manchester United are prioritising a move for West Ham's Declan Rice. The Red Devils are eyeing Rice to partner Paul Pogba, who himself is the subject of transfer speculation. Out of contract at the end of the season, Pogba has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus.

Lazio are interested in free agent Dani Alves following his Sao Paulo exit, reports Calciomercato. The former Barca and Juve full-back terminated his contract and reportedly met with Brazilian rivals Flamengo.

- Fabrizio Romano says Roma are preparing a new five-year contract for Lorenzo Pellegrini, who has been linked with Premier League clubs.

- Serie A champions Inter are weighing up a move for Torino defender Bremer at the end of the season, says Calciomercato. The Brazilian has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- According to Calciomercato, City have not given up on signing Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic. The Serbia international forward was linked with City as well as Tottenham, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid before the transfer window closed.

Luka Jovic is on the radar of Juventus, per Calciomercato. Jovic is out of favour at Madrid, with the Serbia international originally tipped to return to Eintracht Frankfurt on a permanent basis.

England's big win in Hungary was even more remarkable because of the racist abuse directed at their players, according to Kick It Out head of development Troy Townsend.

A 4-0 World Cup qualifying success on Thursday was overshadowed by reports of monkey chanting in Budapest.

On Friday, Townsend hailed Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate and the "support system" around 18-year-old Jude Bellingham, one of the apparent victims. Bellingham said on Twitter the abuse was "part of the game and always will be until proper punishments are put in place by those with the power".

This sort of response has prompted widespread praise as England players have time and again taken a stand against discrimination. FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Hungary, after receiving official reports of events at the Puskas Arena.

Townsend suggested racist chanting was "what we've come to expect" and the team would have thought likewise heading into Thursday's match, but he was again enthused by the players' reactions.

Raheem Sterling was surrounded by his team-mates as he celebrated the opening goal with a tribute to his late friend Steffie Gregg.

Objects were thrown at Sterling by a number of Hungary supporters, but England players including Declan Rice and Jack Grealish appeared to mock their actions by drinking from cups that landed at pitchside.

"In general, they dealt with it with class," Townsend told Stats Perform.

"Every goal, there's more meaning to it, isn't there? You see the ball go in the back of the net and you think, 'I'm disappointed with four'. I'm like, 'Oh, go and get five, go and get six'.

 

"But those players, I can't say this enough now about players who have been victimised and the support that they have of their team-mates.

"I would imagine that there will be certain elements of that squad last night that were expecting it.

"And when they targeted Raheem, who lost a close friend and that's what the inscription on his T-shirt was about, to his close friend... he's in a moment where he's paying homage to a friend, while having cups thrown at him and potentially hearing the monkey chants as well, this is what I mean about that mindset of our professionals.

"Now, they've got such a strong and positive mindset that they won't let those situations affect them.

"They know what they've got to do on the football pitch. They know what they want to achieve. And by the way, they know they're bloody good, and they're better than the opposition.

"So, actually, it makes them more determined, more steely to go and do it again, and go and do it again and go and do it again.

"And I would imagine that they would have walked off with a smile on their face while also going, 'Did you hear that? Did you hear that?'."

FIFA has vowed to take "adequate actions" after England players were allegedly racially abused by Hungary fans during a World Cup qualifying win on Thursday.

Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were allegedly subjected to abuse as the Three Lions cruised to a 4-0 Group I victory at the Puskas Arena.

Hungary were ordered to play their next two UEFA competition matches behind closed doors following an investigation into discriminatory behaviour by supporters at Euro 2020.

World governing body FIFA on Friday vowed to act once it receives reports from match officials and delegates who attended the match in Budapest.

"First and foremost, FIFA strongly rejects any form of racism and violence and has a very clear zero tolerance stance for such behaviour in football," a FIFA statement said.

"FIFA will take adequate actions as soon as it receives match reports concerning yesterday's Hungary-England game.

"With regards to the previous UEFA sanction against Hungary, please note that as specified by UEFA at the time, this sanction is to be served in UEFA competitions."

England boss Gareth Southgate said he had not heard the abuse.

He added: "It sounds like there have been some incidents and everybody knows what we stand for as a team and that that's completely unacceptable."

Three Lions captain Harry Kane also stated that he had not heard the alleged racist chants.

The Tottenham striker said: "I didn't hear that. Obviously, that's something I'll talk to the boys [about] and see if any of them heard any of it.

"We'll have to report it to UEFA as the rules permit and if it is the case hopefully UEFA can come down strong."

England claimed a comprehensive 4-0 victory in Hungary in their first match since the Euro 2020 final, taking a giant stride towards 2022 World Cup qualification.

Goals from Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Declan Rice gave the Three Lions a fourth win in four in this campaign as they aim to move on from July's Wembley heartbreak against Italy.

An England side showing only one change from that penalty shoot-out defeat – Jack Grealish in for Kieran Trippier – dictated play in Budapest, but had to bide their time.

Sterling took his chance early in the second half, though, and Gareth Southgate's men were comfortable thereafter, the outing only marred by objects thrown from the home supporters during England's celebrations as they moved five points clear at the top of Group I.

England had waited until the 50th minute for their first clear-cut opportunity, which Kane then uncharacteristically squandered, scuffing his finish and allowing Peter Gulacsi to block after an incisive Kyle Walker pass.

But the visitors soon carved Hungary open again and Sterling was less forgiving, steering into the bottom-right corner from Mason Mount's cutback.

And there was no way back for Hungary when Mount and Sterling combined again and the latter's driven cross deflected off Attila Szalai onto the head of Kane, who this time did not disappoint.

Gulacsi was able to deny Kane again as Grealish led a counter on the left, but the goalkeeper was less impressive moments later as Maguire's header squirmed into the net, further rewarding a patient first-half display.

A bizarre display from Gulacsi was complete when he recovered a tame Sterling finish after the forward had set up an open goal and then blocked once more from the profligate Kane, only to let Rice's straightforward shot beneath him.

A Manchester United great, could Cristiano Ronaldo end up in the blue of the Red Devils' neighbours?

Ronaldo is reportedly set to leave Serie A powerhouse Juventus and a move to Manchester City is on the cards.

United fans will not be happy…

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO TO JOIN CITY AFTER JUVE FAREWELL

Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Juventus for Manchester City, according to Portuguese journalist Goncalo Lopes.

Ronaldo – who is in the final year of his Juve contract – has been eyeing a Turin exit amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Lopes claims a sensational move that will see United great Ronaldo play for neighbours City is a "done deal", while Gianluca Di Marzio says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will farewell his team-mates on Friday.

 

ROUND-UP

Kylian Mbappe is on the verge of moving to Madrid in a blockbuster transfer from PSG. The France international dominates the front page of Friday's L'Equipe, with the headline "Mbappe is at Real Madrid's door". The same outlet claims Madrid are desperate to claim a deal now before he becomes a free agent as they fear competition from the Premier League, where United and Liverpool are believed to be interested.

- If Mbappe does leave, L'Equipe states that PSG will target Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, United midfielder Paul Pogba and Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga.

- ESPN Brazil says PSG are trying to sign Brazil international Richarlison from Everton.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Raheem Sterling could leave City if the right bid arrives as Bernardo Silva also continues to be linked with a move away amid interest from Atletico Madrid and Milan.

Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Milan are interested in United full-back Diogo Dalot, according to Sky.

- Per The Athletic, there is caution a deal that would see Saul Niguez leave Atletico for United could happen. Chelsea are also reportedly in talks.

A Manchester United great, could Cristiano Ronaldo end up in the blue of the Red Devils' neighbours?

Ronaldo is reportedly set to leave Serie A powerhouse Juventus and a move to Manchester City is on the cards.

United fans will not be happy…

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO TO JOIN CITY AFTER JUVE FAREWELL

Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Juventus for Manchester City, according to Portuguese journalist Goncalo Lopes.

Ronaldo – who is in the final year of his Juve contract – has been eyeing a Turin exit amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Lopes claims a sensational move that will see United great Ronaldo play for neighbours City is a "done deal", while Gianluca Di Marzio says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will farewell his team-mates on Friday.

 

ROUND-UP

Kylian Mbappe is on the verge of moving to Madrid in a blockbuster transfer from PSG. The France international dominates the front page of Friday's L'Equipe, with the headline "Mbappe is at Real Madrid's door". The same outlet claims Madrid are desperate to claim a deal now before he becomes a free agent as they fear competition from the Premier League, where United and Liverpool are believed to be interested.

- If Mbappe does leave, L'Equipe states that PSG will target Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, United midfielder Paul Pogba and Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga.

- ESPN Brazil says PSG are trying to sign Brazil international Richarlison from Everton.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Raheem Sterling could leave City if the right bid arrives as Bernardo Silva also continues to be linked with a move away amid interest from Atletico Madrid and Milan.

Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Milan are interested in United full-back Diogo Dalot, according to Sky.

- Per The Athletic, there is caution a deal that would see Saul Niguez leave Atletico for United could happen. Chelsea are also reportedly in talks.

Jack Grealish was among the scorers as Manchester City eased past Norwich City 5-0 on Saturday for their first win of the Premier League season.

The reigning champions fell to a 1-0 loss at Tottenham in their opening game but had no trouble in seeing off their newly promoted opponents at the Etihad Stadium.

British record signing Grealish scored in an unconventional manner 22 minutes into his home debut after Tim Krul's unfortunate own goal had given the hosts an early lead.

Aymeric Laporte added to the scoring in the second half and substitutes Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez piled the misery on Norwich, who slipped to a second successive defeat on their return to the top tier.

City had won their previous three home league games against Norwich by an aggregate score of 14-1 and were ahead inside seven minutes of this latest one-sided encounter.

Gabriel Jesus chested down Rodri's diagonal pass and fired a low cross into the six-yard box, Grant Hanley diverting the ball against goalkeeper Krul and into the net.

Ferran Torres was denied a goal by VAR for Bernardo Silva's trip on Milot Rashica in the build-up, but Grealish netted soon after as Jesus' cross hit his thigh and beat Krul.

Having played a part in those opening two goals, Jesus went close to scoring one of his own early in the second half when dragging a shot just wide from range.

City's third did arrive nine minutes later when Laporte stroked home after Norwich failed to deal with a corner and the ball bounced around in the box.

Sterling was next to register with a close-range finish after being teed up by the impressive Jesus, while Mahrez rounded out the scoring late on, brilliantly controlling Ruben Dias' long pass and tucking in off the inside of the post.

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