Does Man City's latest Champions League exit mean Pep Guardiola is overrated?

By George Davis, Mariah Ramharak&Lance Whittaker April 17, 2019

Pep Guardiola has not reached back to the final of the Champions League since leaving Barcelona.  Were those who appointed him the best coach in the world following his early successes too quick to do so?

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  • Deschamps: Pogba and Griezmann must be sure they want to move Deschamps: Pogba and Griezmann must be sure they want to move

    France head coach Didier Deschamps is happy to give Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba his opinion on their futures but has warned them to be sure they make the right choice for their careers.

    Atletico Madrid striker Griezmann confirmed last week that he intends to leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the season, despite only agreeing a new five-year contract last year.

    Pogba, meanwhile, has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid after a largely difficult season with Manchester United.

    Deschamps – who has named both players in his squad for a friendly against Bolivia and subsequent Euro 2020 qualifiers against Turkey and Andorra next month – will give them his view but is keen for them not to come to regret their decisions.

    "Players are making choices, I'm not there to advise them," he told a media conference.

    "I'm here to give them my opinion, but it's about them. It depends on their career, people and family.

    "Most of them ask for my opinion. They can use it or not; it's not my choice.

    "What matters is that when they decide something important, they think it is the correct choice. But sometimes you think, 'yes it's a good choice to join that club' and then it's not. It's easy to say after the fact. It goes well or badly."

    Despite criticism of Pogba's form towards the end of the campaign, he ended 2018-19 with 13 Premier League goals and a further nine assists – more than any of his United team-mates managed – and earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

    Deschamps believes people are too quick to find faults in the 26-year-old's game and says he brings a lot more than just goals.

    "I hope you're watching all his games in the Premier League," he added. "We see Paul when he scores and gives assists, but Paul is not just about that. With us, he scores fewer goals, but he was and still is very important.

    "A season lasts 10 months and players can't be at their peak all the time. With France, he knows I'm asking him different things because we have a team, and he's doing it very well."

  • De Ligt drops Barcelona hint: It would be nice to play with Frenkie De Ligt drops Barcelona hint: It would be nice to play with Frenkie

    Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt has suggested he could join team-mate Frenkie de Jong in signing for Barcelona.

    De Jong's €75million switch to Barca for 2019-20 was confirmed earlier in the year, with De Ligt reportedly close to following his fellow Netherlands international to the Catalan club.

    Both players thrived as Ajax thrilled the football world in their run to the Champions League semi-finals, where Erik ten Hag's side were denied a place in the final in by Tottenham despite having led 3-0 on aggregate with 45 minutes to play.

    Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool are also reportedly interested in the 19-year-old defender, but De Ligt has suggested his future could be at Camp Nou with De Jong.

    "I think he had a great season. He deserves to sign for Barcelona," De Ligt said of De Jong.

    "Play with him there? It would be good to play with Frenkie at a club, but in these moments I don't know what will happen."

    Ajax have completed the signing of defender Lisandro Martinez from Defensa y Justicia, which could pave the way for De Ligt's sale.

    The Argentina international signed a four-year deal on Monday, with sporting director Marc Overmars hailing the 21-year-old's potential.

    "Martinez is a left-footed player who can handle multiple positions at the back. He is a defender who wants to play football," Overmars told Ajax's website.

    "He brings a certain mentality that we can use well here, comparable to what his countryman Nico Tagliafico shows here.

    "And Lisandro is still young, so we expect him to continue in the coming years to be an even better player."

  • Griezmann rejection 'hurt' Barcelona, says Xavi Griezmann rejection 'hurt' Barcelona, says Xavi

    Antoine Griezmann's decision to turn down a move to Barcelona last year "hurt" the club, according to Xavi.

    Griezmann was strongly linked with signing for Barca after the 2017-18 season but he eventually announced in a televised documentary he would stay at Atletico Madrid.

    However, after Barca held off Atleti to defend their LaLiga crown, France forward Griezmann confirmed his intention to leave the Madrid club after five years.

    Barca are reportedly again front-runners for his signature, though head coach Ernesto Valverde has refused to discuss how Griezmann could fit into a forward line with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

    And Xavi, who won eight LaLiga titles at Barca and made his last professional appearance for Al-Sadd before hanging up his boots this week, hinted there may be leftover bad feeling at Camp Nou over Griezmann's previous rejection of a move.

    "I understand it hurt what he did last summer," Xavi said to Sport. "If the reason for the rejection [from Barca players] was only a footballing issue, I'd speak with the dressing room to make them see he's a player who can bring something.

    "We have to see, however, who is signing him? The sporting director? Valverde? The president? If I came to Barca I would ask for the signings, and if the dressing room doesn't agree with any of them I'd speak with them, but in the end I decide. Be it Griezmann or whoever.

    "Another thing would be if the coach doesn't want him either. Then we have a problem."

    Barca have given Valverde their backing despite their latest Champions League disappointment, with Xavi making his ambitions to coach at Camp Nou clear.

    "If one day I come back to Barcelona it's all a consequence of knowing that I will be judged," he added.

    "Everyone wants to be at a big team. It would be more comfortable to go to a second division club but I'm competitive and I like big challenges.

    "I know what will come, I will go bald or my hair will turn white, but it is what it is."

    Messi made it clear the Champions League was Barca's top priority in 2018-19 but he was unable to add to the four European titles he has won at the club.

    "That's more than a few, we only had one before," Messi's former team-mate Xavi said. "We were able to win more but it's hard to win the Champions League.

    "[Pep] Guardiola's Barca were better than the rest of the teams and we only won two of four. Chelsea and Inter knocked us out. But be calm, Messi's not finished yet.

    "We always talk about the post-Messi era, but Leo has three or four good years left. At the top level, like now, because he looks after himself, he's incredibly professional, he's physically strong, a beast mentally. He's the number one at everything."

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