Real Madrid look set to finally land a midfielder before the transfer window closes.

The LaLiga giants have been linked to numerous midfielders and, after a slow start to the season, they may make a signing ahead of the window shutting on Monday.

Madrid are reportedly close to strengthening their squad by completing a move for Sporting CP star Bruno Fernandes.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID CLOSE TO SEALING FERNANDES DEAL

Real Madrid have almost completed a deal for Fernandes, according to ESPN.

The Portugal international, 24, was linked to Manchester United and Tottenham earlier in the window.

Now, the Sporting captain looks set for Madrid, who have reportedly targeted United's Paul Pogba, Spurs' Christian Eriksen and Ajax's Donny van de Beek during the close season.

It comes just days after Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade said Fernandes was heading to Madrid for €70million.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Neymar saga will finally end – for now – with the Paris Saint-Germain star staying with the Ligue 1 champions. L'Equipe reports the Brazil international will remain with PSG, while Sport reports Barcelona will resume their pursuit of Neymar in 2020.

- That could mean a few more eyes on Mauro Icardi on Monday. PSG are in talks with Inter over a potential loan deal for the forward, according to RMC Sport and Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Pogba may still be hoping to eventually get his move to Real Madrid. The Mirror reports the France international will resist signing a new deal with Premier League giants Manchester United, with his current contract running until 2021, although the club have an option to extend that by a year.

- Javier Hernandez should get a deadline-day move from West Ham. The Premier League club have agreed to sell the forward to Sevilla for close to €8.9m (£8m), according to Sky Sports News.

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan came off the bench during Arsenal's draw against Tottenham on Sunday and he could be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium a day later. Roma are pressing hard to sign the midfielder on loan with an option to buy, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Phil Foden may have to wait for his chances at Manchester City, but the Premier League champions are keen to keep the teenage midfielder in their squad. The Sun reports City rejected loan bids from Rangers and Roma for the England youth international.

Pep Guardiola feels Fernandinho and Kyle Walker are both capable of filling in for injured Manchester City centre-back Aymeric Laporte.

The defender, who earned a long-awaited call-up by France this week, was taken off on a stretcher during Saturday's 4-0 Premier League win at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Laporte was described by Guardiola in the build-up to the game as the best left-sided defender in Europe but it is feared a right knee injury could rule him out for an extended period, with the 25-year-old joining Leroy Sane in the treatment room.

His absence left City temporarily with one fit senior centre-back, Nicolas Otamendi, although Guardiola confirmed John Stones should be available to face Norwich City after the international break, having recently suffered a hamstring strain.

City did not sign a central defender during the transfer window, instead bringing in Joao Cancelo from Juventus, with fellow right-back Danilo heading in the opposite direction.

They failed to replace departing captain Vincent Kompany and ended an interest in Harry Maguire before Stones and Walker's England team-mate joined rivals Manchester United for £80million.

"The club works incredibly well in all departments and sometimes we cannot afford it like other teams afford it and that is all," Guardiola told reporters.

"We pay a lot of money for a lot of players, that is why we have a depth of squad with huge quality but we cannot do... the club tell me, 'You have a limit, you cannot go forward'.

"'Maybe in the future but not now, you cannot do it.' I say, 'Okay, you cannot do it so we cannot do it, so we are going with what we have'.

"But we don't expect Leroy out for a long time and now Laporte, maybe, we wait but doesn’t look good, But it is what it is.

"During the season it happens and the other guys are going to make a step forward and one day we need to put Kyle Walker like a central defender, he is going to play central defender, so we are going to find solutions.

"I am sad for Leroy, I am sad for Laporte today, that is what I am concerned [about] - but we are going to move forward."

While Walker has played on the right of a back three for England, Fernandinho slotted into the heart of defence against Brighton and has filled the role for City on occasion.

Guardiola could also look to the club's academy, where there are high hopes for Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis -18 and 17 respectively and yet to make a Premier League appearance between them. 

"It happens because he is a nice guy, because he is open minded," Guardiola said of versatile Brazil midfielder Fernandinho. "Normally the players know, 'I am playing in that position, just that position, if not I don't play' and that is not the case [with Fernandinho].

"So he is a typical captain. He thinks for the group more than himself, but he is a guy who is incredibly respected in the locker room and by our staff. That is why he can do it.

"He needs some processes defensively, but he is intelligent and has a lot of experience and we will see.

"We will work – unfortunately now we cannot because it is the international break, but we are going to work on it and we need him in this position.

"Because right now we have John and Nico and Dinho and Eric Garcia, or Taylor Bellis - two young guys in the academy who are going to help us to do that."

The Premier League table is taking on a familiar look after matchweek four, with undefeated Liverpool and Manchester City setting the pace following comfortable victories.

But there are some unexpected sides among the chasing pack, with Leicester City and Crystal Palace completing the top four after home wins, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham sit outside the top six.

At the other end of the table, promoted Aston Villa and Norwich City are struggling to get going and both suffered away defeats, while the division is propped up by last season's FA Cup finalists Watford, who picked up their first point.

A delve into the Opta data on the weekend's action reveals the milestones being passed and records being set as the 2019-20 season unfolds.

FIRMINO REACHES 50 AS REDS MAKE HISTORY

Liverpool's 3-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor marked a historic milestone for the Anfield club, who have won 13 league games in a row for the first time in their history.

Those 13 victories have all featured more than one Liverpool goal and the Reds are the first side to achieve that feat since Tottenham's glorious team of 1960.

After Chris Wood's own-goal opened the scoring at Burnley, Sadio Mane doubled Liverpool's lead with his 30th in all competitions since the start of the last season, pulling him level with Mohamed Salah over that time period.

Roberto Firmino's strike 10 minutes from time wrapped up a straightforward victory for the European champions and made him the first Brazilian player to score 50 Premier League goals. He is the ninth player to reach that milestone in the Premier League era for Liverpool, who have more half-centurions than any other club in the division except Manchester United, who have also had nine 50-goal players.

DERBY TURNAROUND DENIES SPURS MUCH-NEEDED AWAY WIN

Tottenham looked on course for their first league win away from home in eight attempts when goals from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane put Mauricio Pochettino's men 2-0 up over north London rivals Arsenal.

But Alexandre Lacazette pulled one back for the hosts just before half-time and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drew Arsenal level in the second half to leave Tottenham with a record of two draws and six defeats from their last eight Premier League away games - their longest winless streak on the road since December 2011 to April 2012 (also eight games).

Pochettino's record in away visits to fellow 'big six' opponents is poor, with Spurs having won just three of their 27 such trips since he took over in 2014-15.

Arsenal went behind when Bernd Leno parried the ball to Eriksen's feet - the goalkeeper's sixth error since the start of last season - and Granit Xhaka conceded a penalty for the fifth time since his Premier League debut to allow Kane to make it 2-0.

But Lacazette narrowed the deficit before Aubameyang scored in his seventh successive Premier League start at Emirates Stadium - an Arsenal record bettered only by Thierry Henry, who scored in nine successive starts at Highbury.

AGUERO ONE SHORT OF HOME CENTURY

Sergio Aguero scored twice in Manchester City's 4-0 demolition of Brighton and Hove Albion, taking the Argentinian to 99 Premier League goals at Etihad Stadium.

Only Thierry Henry at Highbury (114) and Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford (101) have scored more goals at a single venue in Premier League history than Aguero, whose second goal was assisted by David Silva.

That came after former Spain playmaker Silva also laid on Kevin De Bruyne's opener, and he has assisted 87 Premier League goals since his City debut in August 2010 - 27 more than any other player.

Bernardo Silva scored the fourth goal as the champions capped a result that leaves Brighton winless in every game they have played away at City, drawing two and losing on eight of their 10 trips.

SOLSKJAER'S SIDE MAKE SLOWEST START IN 27 YEARS

Manchester United roared to a 4-0 win over Chelsea in their season opener but head into the international break with just five points from four games, their lowest total at this stage of a Premier League campaign since 1992-93.

Saturday's subdued 1-1 draw at Southampton extended United's winless run away from home to eight competitive matches, the club's worst in almost five years.

Daniel James, scorer of a sublime opener, continues to be a bright spark and has now netted as many for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side as he did in his final 22 Championship appearances for Swansea City.

But the Wales winger's third of the season was not enough for victory, Jannik Vestergaard forcing a share of the spoils with his first goal for Saints in his 27th league appearance.

Kevin Danso provided the cross for centre-back Vestergaard to equalise, although the Austrian later undid some of that good work by becoming the first Premier League player to be sent off on a home debut since Yannick Sagbo of Hull City in August 2013.

Kevin De Bruyne accepts it will be a blow for Manchester City if Aymeric Laporte's knee injury is serious.

The defender was carried off on a stretcher during Saturday's 4-0 Premier League win at home to Brighton and Hove Albion after hurting his right knee in a challenge with Adam Webster.

Laporte was booked for the tackle to add insult to injury, with City boss Pep Guardiola saying after the game the centre-back "does not look good".

The 25-year-old has already been replaced in the France squad by Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti for upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra having received a long-awaited call-up by Didier Deschamps this week.

Fernandinho filled in for City against Brighton but Guardiola's options are limited after no central defenders were signed following the departure of club captain Vincent Kompany at the end of 2018-19.

John Stones has been restricted to one league appearance although the England defender could return to club action following the international break.

City are already without Leroy Sane after the winger damaged his anterior cruciate ligament, and De Bruyne hopes Laporte is not set for a similarly lengthy lay-off – although he insists they must be ready to cope.

"It's always a shame when people get injured," said De Bruyne. "It's not nice for the team or for the person when you are away for long.

"We already have Leroy [unavailable] so if Aymeric is out for a couple of months it's a blow for us. But on the other hand, we have to deal with it.

"We lost Vinnie already but it gives possibilities to other people and hopefully John [Stones] will be back soon and hopefully we will be okay."

De Bruyne scored a second-minute opener for City against Brighton as the champions recorded their first home league win of the season.

The Belgium international, who only scored twice in the Premier League in an injury-hit 2018-19, never doubted he would be able to regain top form.

"Last year was last year," added the influential playmaker. "I've started the season really well and I feel okay and the team is doing good.

"We've just played four games and there's still 65 to go in all competitions. It's a hard season, we need everybody.

"I'm happy with the way I've come back, but that was never in doubt."

Romelu Lukaku's goalscoring record should have earned him more respect in England, according to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.

Manchester United sold 26-year-old Lukaku to Serie A side Inter in August for a reported €80million.

The striker hit 27 competitive goals in his first season at Old Trafford but that figure fell to 15 last term as critics questioned aspects of his game and conditioning.

Martinez managed the former PFA Team of the Year member at Everton, where he spent four prolific years, and believes his overall impact in the Premier League went undervalued.

Only 18 players have ever scored more goals in the competition than Lukaku's 113 from 252 appearances.

"Romelu hasn't been appreciated for most of the time he's been in the British game," Martinez told the Daily Mail.

"And the reason is very clear. Everyone analyses what he hasn't got as a number nine. Everyone wants to tell him the first touch should be better, that he should be stronger in the air, that he needs to make more room.

"But what they miss is his outstanding trade as a goalscorer. Look at his stats. He is one of the most significant scorers at his age.

"Like any player, if you are going to highlight the things they don't do well, you wouldn't get the feeling of a good player.

"But in Romelu's case, he's always been a top goalscorer."

Lukaku's move made him the third high-profile member of Belgium's starting XI to leave the Premier League during the close season, after Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany.

Kevin De Bruyne remains at Manchester City and has enjoyed an exceptional and injury-free start to the new season.

Asked whether there is a better midfielder in world football, Martinez replied: "No, no, no, definitely not.

"Kevin De Bruyne is a modern playmaker. Xabi Alonso at Liverpool or Xavi Hernandez at Barcelona – when they received the ball, everything had to slow down and this allowed them to execute the pass.

"De Bruyne, he executes passes before the flow of the game has seen it, before people have seen it."

Liverpool set a new club record on Saturday, beating Burnley 3-0 to record a 13th consecutive top-flight victory.

Jurgen Klopp's men finished the 2018-19 campaign with nine straight Premier League wins and have taken maximum points from their first four games of this season.

As a result, they have surpassed the 12-game winning run previously achieved under Kenny Dalglish in 1990.

How does Liverpool's ongoing winning streak compare to the record runs of the rest of the Premier League's 'big six'? With the help of Opta, we take a look...

 

Manchester City: 18 wins in a row

Liverpool would need to win each of their next five Premier League matches - against Newcastle United, Chelsea, Sheffield United, Leicester City and bitter rivals Manchester United - to equal the 18-game streak City put together from August to December two years ago.

Pep Guardiola's side needed a 97th-minute strike from Raheem Sterling to beat Bournemouth in the first game of that run, which featured 5-0 wins over Liverpool and Crystal Palace, a 6-0 triumph at Watford and a 7-2 mauling of Stoke City.

It was Palace who eventually brought an end to City's stunning string of wins, earning a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park that could have been even better, with Ederson saving an injury-time penalty from Luka Milivojevic.

City subsequently won 14 matches in a row to pip Liverpool to last season's title and also claimed victory in their first game of 2019-20 before drawing 2-2 with Tottenham in a match they dominated.


Arsenal: 14 wins in a row

Arsenal's 'Invincibles' famously completed an unbeaten Premier League season in 2003-04, but the Gunners' longest winning streak in the competition did not come in that campaign.

Their best run of 14 straight wins was achieved in 2002, when a team spearheaded by Thierry Henry secured a league and FA Cup double.

A 2-0 win over Birmingham City in August saw Arsene Wenger's magnificent side set a new benchmark for consecutive top-flight wins, at least until City's recent dominance.


Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham: 13 wins in a row

In winning 13 successive games, Liverpool have drawn level with the best runs of Chelsea and Tottenham.

The Reds' current streak began against Burnley in March and stretched to 13 matches with Saturday's 3-0 win over the same opponents.

Chelsea recorded 13 wins in a row from October to December in 2016 and went on to be crowned champions the following May.

You have to go way back to 1960 for Tottenham's longest winning runs in the top-flight, which was achieved under Bill Nicholson in another season that ended with the league trophy being lifted.


Manchester United - 12 wins in a row

Somewhat surprisingly given their years of sustained success under Alex Ferguson, United sit bottom of this particular list.

They have never won more than 12 league games in a row, reaching that mark in August 2000 - three months after winning the Premier League yet again.

Indeed, the longest winning runs of United, City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all come, at least in part, during title-winning campaigns.

After coming so close to glory last term, Liverpool will hope they follow suit next May.

Pep Guardiola hailed Sergio Aguero after Manchester City's thumping 4-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion, claiming his striker would "die scoring goals".

Aguero netted twice – a strike in each half - as City triumphed at home in the Premier League on Saturday, the Argentina star moving on to six goals in his last four games as well as setting up Bernardo Silva for a late clincher.

Kevin De Bruyne's opener after 68 seconds sent City on their way to a third win in four top-flight matches, with Aguero's exploits winning the praise of his manager.

"Sergio scored goals when he was in Argentina at 16 years old and he will die scoring goals," said Guardiola.

"He is a special talent and I love that he tries to do it. From day one we have changed many things, but I am delighted about his commitment.

"Of course we need his goals, everybody knows it. He helps us a lot with his goals, but even the days he doesn't score, we need the commitment. He is like this from day one, so I'm happy for him. 

"The game was tough, if we analyse the result it was 4-0 but the performance was not because Brighton did really well. Few teams come here to play with this courage. 

"My players up front are incredibly good and they make the difference. Managers like Graham Potter are good for football."

Aymeric Laporte left the pitch on a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the first half, leaving Fernandinho to replace him and play at centre-back.

The midfielder may need to get used to that for the time being, as Nicolas Otamendi is the only fit senior centre-back on City's books, with John Stones not fully recovered from a thigh problem heading into the Champions League group stages.

Guardiola said of Fernandinho: "He is a holding midfielder, everyone knows it, me included, but I think he has the conditions to play there [at centre-back]. 

"The problems we have there is a situation which he is going to adapt to. He is intelligent, fast, strong in the headers and, in the build-up, he has the quality to see what happens in front. 

"He can play in both positions. [But play there] for the rest of his career, I don't know."

As well as praising Brighton's tactics after the match, Guardiola added he could learn a lot from Potter, who also caused City problems in the FA Cup while at Swansea City last season.

Brighton boss Potter said: "The result is not something we are enjoying but the performance of the players was one I thought of real courage, some good play, their application was fantastic. 

"We had a setback very early in the game which was not what you want but they carried on with great resilience. Congratulations to City for winning the game and congratulations to our team for doing exactly what we asked them."

Pep Guardiola expects Aymeric Laporte to be out for a significant period, explaining the Manchester City defender's injury "does not look good".

Laporte left the field on a stretcher after suffering a knee problem 34 minutes into City's 4-0 home Premier League victory at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

The defender, who was called up to the France squad this week, appeared to sustain the injury when he collided with Adam Webster in a challenge for which he was booked.

After the match, Guardiola was waiting for news from the club doctor but suggested Laporte, 25, had been taken to hospital and was likely set for a long spell on the sidelines.

"I think he's gone to hospital," City boss Guardiola said of Laporte, who was replaced by Fernandinho. 

"It doesn't look good. I don't know right now what he has but we will know [Sunday]. They are diagnosing what he has right now and I'm waiting for the doctor to call me.

"He might be out for a while."

Laporte's injury leaves Nicolas Otamendi as the only fit senior centre-back on City's books, with John Stones not fully recovered from a thigh problem heading into the Champions League group stages.

Manchester United and Chelsea fell further off the pace in the Premier League as they lost leads in disappointing draws on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were unable to retain their advantage as they drew 1-1 at Southampton, while Chelsea slipped from 2-0 up in a dramatic encounter with promoted Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester City thumped Brighton and Hove Albion 4-0, while Liverpool will meet Burnley in the last game of the day.

Crystal Palace, Leicester City and West Ham were also winners, while Newcastle United and Watford drew 1-1.

 

BLADES COMEBACK STUNS CHELSEA

Frank Lampard is still waiting for his first home win as Chelsea boss after the Blues somehow failed to hold on against Sheffield United.

Kurt Zouma's own goal one minute from time saw the Blades claim a famous point. Callum Robinson had earlier reduced the deficit for the visitors, while he and substitute Lys Mousset were involved as the ball diverted in off Zouma's shin with the clock ticking down.

Tammy Abraham had scored twice before half-time to seemingly put Chelsea on course for victory, but instead they remain behind their opponents in the table on just five points from four games.


MAN UNITED DENIED AFTER SUPERB JAMES OPENER

Daniel James produced an excellent finish to score his third Manchester United goal and give his side a 10th-minute advantage at Southampton.

But the 10-man hosts ensured Solskjaer has now gone three straight league games without a win as Jannik Vestergaard sent in a towering header just before the hour mark.

United could not find a winner even after Kevin Danso's dismissal in the 73rd minute, the left-back picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Scott McTominay.


LAPORTE A WORRY AS AGUERO INSPIRES MAN CITY

City's win over Brighton was straightforward from the moment Kevin De Bruyne gave them the lead after 68 seconds.

The Belgium international then set up the first of two goals for Sergio Aguero either side of half-time, the other created by David Silva, who had also laid on the opener.

Aguero, who now has six goals in four games, then turned provider with 11 minutes remaining as he set up Bernardo Silva.

However, City's win came at a cost, with defender Aymeric Laporte leaving the field on a stretcher due to a suspected knee injury after colliding with Adam Webster.

City later confirmed Laporte had been hospitalised, with a diagnosis on the severity of his problem to follow.

 

VARDY BOOSTS IMPRESSIVE LEICESTER 

Elsewhere, Jamie Vardy's double inspired Leicester to a 3-1 win over Bournemouth at the King Power Stadium.

He scored in each half as well as assisting Youri Tielemans' goal for the unbeaten Foxes, with the former England striker's first effort a wonderful lob. Callum Wilson netted for Bournemouth, who have won only one of their first four games.

Crystal Palace followed up their win over Manchester United last week with a 1-0 home victory over Aston Villa, which arrived courtesy of Jordan Ayew's strike 17 minutes from time. Trezeguet was sent off for the visitors early in the second half.

It is three wins in a row across all competitions for West Ham after in-form Sebastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko gave them a 2-0 home triumph over Norwich City.

Will Hughes scored after 78 seconds for Watford, who had to settle for a first point of the season rather than a maiden victory after Fabian Schar cancelled out his effort for Newcastle.

Sergio Aguero scored twice but a suspected knee injury for Aymeric Laporte cast a shadow over Manchester City's comfortable 4-0 home win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Laporte's celebrations of a long-awaited France call-up this week appear likely to be short-lived after he was taken off on a stretcher in the first half.

The 25-year-old went down in discomfort following a collision with Adam Webster, an incident that is sure to give Pep Guardiola several sleepless nights over the international break.

City were leading courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne's second-minute opener and Aguero added two more either side of the interval before teeing up Bernardo Silva to add the icing 17 seconds after his introduction.

The champions started in the manner expected of them as David Silva darted in behind and delivered a perfect cut-back for De Bruyne to apply a simple finish.

Provider should have turned goalscorer on the half-hour mark but David Silva poked across the face after Raheem Sterling wriggled free in the box.

A subdued atmosphere gave way to concern when centre-back Laporte was forced off after attempting a challenge that earned him a booking.

But striker Aguero lifted the mood in the 42nd minute, cushioning De Bruyne's pass and emphatically capping a classy team move.

Fernandinho had replaced Laporte in City's defence and positioned himself well to nod away Leandro Trossard's scuffed, close-range finish shortly after the restart.

Aguero offered no such mercy, brilliantly curling beyond an outstretched Mat Ryan to complete his brace in the 55th minute.

City moved back down the gears after wrapping up three points but there was time left for the two-goal Argentina star to add an assist to his impressive outing.

Aguero gathered Martin Montoya's poor header and spotted Bernardo Silva, who picked out the bottom-right corner to complete the scoring in the 79th minute.


What does it mean? Guardiola awaiting Laporte update 

City's decision to not sign a replacement for captain Vincent Kompany may be about to backfire.

Laporte's injury leaves Nicolas Otamendi as the only fit senior centre-back on the club's books, with John Stones not fully recovered from a thigh problem.

Heading into the Champions League group stage with Fernandinho partnering Otamendi is not a scenario Guardiola will readily accept.


De Bruyne dominant in the middle

City's midfield trio of Rodri, David Silva and De Bruyne overpowered their counterparts and laid the platform for a straightforward victory.

The latter was especially effective, De Bruyne continuing his fine early season form with a tidy finish and smart assist for Aguero's first.


Trossard squanders Brighton's best opportunity

Belgian winger Trossard looks a good acquisition for Brighton but his inability to convert a gilt-edged chance after the resumption was always going to prove costly.

What's next?

City's first assignment after the international break is a trip to Norwich City on September 14. Brighton entertain Burnley on the same day.

Aymeric Laporte had to be taken off on a stretcher with a suspected knee injury sustained in the first half of Manchester City's game against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

The centre-back went down in discomfort following a collision with Adam Webster and required treatment on his right knee before being carried from the pitch.

Laporte came off worse after stepping across his fellow centre-back's path around 10 minutes before the interval.

Insult was added to injury as referee Jonathan Moss showed Laporte a yellow card for impeding the marauding Webster's progress.

Pep Guardiola was forced to send Fernandinho into the heart of defence and he could have some sleepless nights over the international break as the Premier League champions await news on the extent of the damage.

Any time spent on the sidelines will be a cruel blow to Laporte, who won a long-awaited call-up to the France squad this week, while City are already without England centre-back John Stones after losing Vincent Kompany at the end of his contract.

City, who led Brighton 2-0 at the break, will hope Laporte is not out for a long period as their Champions League campaign commences away to Shakhtar Donetsk on September 18, four days after a Premier League trip to Norwich City.

Guardiola described Laporte as the best left-sided defender in Europe this week, telling reporters: "I'm incredibly grateful to [France coach] Didier Deschamps and so happy for [Laporte] because he deserves it."

 

Pep Guardiola wants to see teenage midfielder Phil Foden step up and embrace being part of Manchester City's squad.

Foden, 19, has played just 10 minutes to begin the Premier League season, coming off the bench in a 5-0 win over West Ham.

The England youth international is highly rated by Guardiola, but the City manager wants to see more from Foden.

"He is a shy guy. I would like him to talk more to me, but all the time I go to him and speak to him," Guardiola told UK media.

"He still looks at me like a little bit [too much] respect like a manager – after two or three seasons it's not necessary, but it's normal.

"He is 18, 19 years old, now he goes for [England] Under-21 and he is going to play and he is nice, he is OK, everything is in the right position."

Guardiola has plenty of talent in his squad and City's central midfield is stacked with quality, including Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan.

The Spanish tactician said Foden, like others, would have to be patient in regards to game time.

"That is the reality in a team that achieved four titles last season. If you don't have this squad you can't achieve four titles – impossible," Guardiola said.

"So they have to fight and be patient and don't complain too much, don't blame too much, because the time is coming.

"They have to be prepared because I saw today the schedule with all the fixed plan of the Champions League, away, home, and I said, 'Wow, how many games do we have?'

"Everyone is going to have minutes."

City continue their Premier League campaign at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Manchester City "dream" of winning the Champions League, but Pep Guardiola will not let success or failure become an obsession.

Expectations in Europe have grown even greater for City following a second successive Premier League title.

An agonising quarter-final loss to Tottenham ended their run last term and forced a domestically dominant outfit to watch from afar as Liverpool went on to lift the trophy in an all-English final.

City's best Champions League result, a semi-final berth in 2015-16, was achieved under Manuel Pellegrini but his successor, a two-time winner of the competition with Barcelona, will not be consumed by the idea of making history.

"It's important, I know it's important but if it doesn't happen it will be important too," Guardiola said.

"I'll be the same guy, wake up in the morning, work a lot, go to sleep as early as possible, eat good and take care of myself as much as possible, love the people I love.

"It's not going to change my life.

"I'm going to do my best but when I say thank you to everybody for my time here it's not going to change my opinion about this title or no title."

He added: "The day I arrived [at City] in the first season, people say you have to win the Champions League because Manuel and [Roberto] Mancini won the Premier League.

"They say you have to. Okay, I have to try. I know the reason why we'll be judged."

City have been drawn alongside Shakhtar Donetsk, Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb for this season's group stage.

Guardiola warned even the slightest misstep could be the club's undoing, their dreams having been dashed in April by a last-gasp offside call spotted only by VAR.

"There are incredible teams in Europe, as strong as we are," he said.

"One inch, one decision, one bad performance, one mistake and you're out. We spoke many times about that.

"We're going to try. Of course we want to win it. We dream of it, we work for it, but the same as we work for the Premier League again."

Pep Guardiola expressed gratitude to Didier Deschamps for picking the "best left-sided central defender in Europe" after Aymeric Laporte finally received a France call-up.

Les Bleus boss Deschamps ended the uncapped Manchester City defender's lengthy exile by naming him in the squad to face Albania and Andorra in Euro 2020 qualifying.

The uncapped 25-year-old has had to be extremely patient for international opportunities despite his consistently excellent displays at the heart of City's defence.

Laporte's performances have forced Guardiola to revise his opinion of the former Athletic Bilbao player, a day after Liverpool counterpart Virgil van Dijk was crowned UEFA Men's Player of the Year.

"It was a mistake when I said he is one of the best – for me he is the best left-sided central defender in Europe," Guardiola said of Laporte, who last won a France call-up in 2017.

"I'm incredibly grateful to Didier Deschamps and so happy for [Laporte] because he deserves it.

"All of us were so happy for him because he was looking for this call for a long time and hopefully he can stay. Now it depends on him."

Kyle Walker was less fortunate on the international front, the England regular squeezed out of Gareth Southgate's latest squad due to a surplus of right-backs.

Guardiola admitted "a little bit" of surprise over the decision but backed the 29-year-old to regain his place.

"Of course, Kyle and myself are not involved. We respect the decision and I think Kyle will come back strong," he said.

"It's [Southgate's] decision, of course I understand him and support the manager of the national team."

Walker's good form at club level has earned him three Premier League starts and restricted new signing Joao Cancelo to a brief cameo in the win over Bournemouth.

"With Joao, we are delighted with what we have seen," the City boss said.

"But he arrived late so was not in pre-season. There are many things Kyle knows completely well.

"Joao is starting to understand what to do and maybe [against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday] or maybe after the international break he will start to play."

Guardiola confirmed injured pair John Stones and Gabriel Jesus are "much better" but doubted whether they would be available for the match at the Etihad Stadium.

Champions League holders Liverpool have learned their opponents for the 2019-20 group stage, with Jurgen Klopp's side facing Napoli again.

The Reds were placed in Group B, which also includes Salzburg and Genk, when Thursday's draw was made in Monaco.

Inter's return to the Champions League saw them placed along with Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund in a daunting Group F, which also includes Slavia Prague.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid's bid to recapture their crown will see Zinedine Zidane's men take on Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, as well as Club Brugge and Galatasaray.

Champions League group stage draw in full:

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade

Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo, Atalanta

Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk

Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter, Slavia Prague

Group G: Zenit, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.