Manchester City will learn their Champions League future on Monday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rules on their appeal against a two-year ban from UEFA competitions.

European football's governing body announced the sanction in February, along with a €30million (£27.2m) fine, after finding City guilty of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.

City swiftly announced their intention to appeal to CAS and that case was heard over the course of three days from June 8 via video conference.

Pep Guardiola's team have already secured a top-four place in the Premier League this season, and could add the FA Cup and the Champions League to the already-retained EFL Cup.

However, Monday's verdict is likely to have far-reaching ramifications for the club's short and medium-term future.

WHAT WERE CITY FOUND GUILTY OF?

The independent Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA's Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) found City had "committed serious breaches" of FFP rules "by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016".

UEFA launched its investigation after a series of articles published by Der Spiegel in November 2018 alleged City had artificially inflated income from sponsors linked to the club's Abu Dhabi ownership. The governing body also stated City "failed to cooperate in the investigation of this case by the CFCB".

WHAT WAS THE CLUB'S RESPONSE TO THE BAN?

Emphatic and bullish. City said they were "disappointed but not surprised" by the punishment that emerged from a "prejudicial process" and welcomed the prospect of CAS considering a "comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence" in support of their case.

IS THIS THE FIRST TIME CITY HAVE GONE TO CAS?

No. The Premier League club tried to have UEFA's investigation thrown out, citing concerns over media reports on developments in the case, citing sources close to it.

In November last year, CAS ruled City's appeal was "inadmissible" because all legal avenues had not yet been pursued. However, the court said the concerns expressed were not without merit and described the alleged leaks from UEFA's end as "worrisome".

HAVE UEFA PUNISHED CITY UNDER FFP BEFORE

Yes. In May 2014, they were fined €60m for FFP breaches, with their transfer spending capped to the same amount for the 2014-15 season, during which then-manager Manuel Pellegrini had to operate with a reduced 21-man Champions League squad.

WHAT DO CITY STAND TO LOSE FINANCIALLY?

A conservative estimate lands somewhere in excess of £170m when considering broadcast payments alone, while drops in matchday revenue and potential reductions in sponsorship income could push the figure towards £200m.

WHO WILL QUALIFY FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IF CITY ARE BANNED?

The qualification position will drop down to the team who finish fifth in the table – a spot currently occupied by Manchester United.

COULD CITY ALSO BE PUNISHED BY THE PREMIER LEAGUE?

Yes. The Premier League's profit and sustainability rules are basically a more lenient version of FFP, allowing losses of up to £105m over three seasons. If UEFA's findings against City are upheld, their losses might be shown to be excess of this.

A more pressing concern might be section J.7 of the Premier League handbook, which states any team found to have provided a "false statement" with regards to applications to take part in UEFA competitions is liable for punishment. A fine or a points deduction would be among the options on the table.

CAN CITY APPEAL AGAIN IF CAS UPHOLD UEFA'S RULING?

Yes, to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, although the chances of overturning the punishment would be very slim by that stage and rely upon proving a procedural error on the part of CAS.

What does the future hold for PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar?

Real Madrid have made no secret of their admiration for Mbappe, while Barcelona have tried to re-sign Neymar.

As PSG prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, the Ligue 1 holders have made some transfer decisions.

 

TOP STORY – PSG KEEPING MBAPPE, MAKE NEYMAR DECISION

Paris Saint-Germain will not sell Kylian Mbappe ahead of the 2020-21 season but Neymar's future remains uncertain, according to L'Equipe.

Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid in the future, however, Ligue 1 champions PSG have no intention of parting with the France international before next season.

But Neymar – continually linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving in a world-record transfer in 2017 – could leave as PSG look to avoid losing the Brazilian star on a free transfer in 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are preparing their first offer for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz. Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Chelsea will make a £62million (€70m) bid plus add-ons for Havertz amid interest from Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barca. To fund the transfer, Chelsea will look to sell Inter target Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Jorginho, who would like to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.

Luke Shaw could be sacrificed as United look to sign Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, claims the Mirror. United have reportedly leapfrogged Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for full-back Chilwell.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are interested in Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has also been linked to Madrid.

Willian has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami, reports the Telegraph. Willian's Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked to Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

- Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is wanted by Russian champions Zenit, according to the Evening Standard.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are not the only club eyeing Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo. Jose Mourinho reportedly wants the Italy international at Tottenham, while Madrid and United are also believed to be interested.

- The Express claims Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of United goalkeeper and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson. Chelsea are ready to ask Manchester United for a price as Kepa Arrizabalaga struggles in London.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will announce a decision on Manchester City's appeal against their Champions League ban on Monday. 

The Switzerland-based body will confirm the verdict at 10:30 local time (08:30 GMT). 

City's hearing at CAS began on June 8 and concluded two days later, with proceedings conducted by video call. 

The Premier League club are seeking to overturn UEFA's decision to ban them from European competition for the next two seasons, along with a fine of €30million (£27.2m), after finding them guilty of "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. 

City have persistently denied wrongdoing in relation to the matter, which stemmed from a series of articles published by Der Spiegel in November 2018, drawing on information purportedly obtained by the whistleblower Football Leaks. 

"The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position," read a statement at the time from City, who UEFA said had "failed to cooperate" with the investigation. 

City have already secured a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, which will mean a place in the 2020-21 Champions League if the verdict is overturned. 

Manager Pep Guardiola has repeatedly stated his belief that his club will be cleared, doing so again after Saturday's 5-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion. 

"I'm confident in the club, I know their arguments and the defence they had," he said. "We have to wait for Monday. I know there are many teams in the Premier League waiting too. 

"I'm confident because we know exactly what the club has done and that will allow us to play in the Champions League next season and to be recognised by everyone that nothing wrong happened." 

In an interview with HLN, star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne suggested he might be happy to stay at City in the event of a reduction to a one-year ban, although a two-year Champions League absence would force him to consider his options. 

"I'm just waiting," he said. "The club told us they are going to appeal, and they are almost 100 per cent sure they are right. That's why I'm waiting to see what will happen. I trust my team. 

"Once the decision is made, I will review everything. Two years would be long, but in the case of one year I might see." 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he was proud of Raheem Sterling for the way the forward has fought against racial injustice.

Sterling has enjoyed another fine season on the pitch, but the England international is also helping the fight against racism amid movements around the world.

The forward scored a hat-trick in City's 5-0 Premier League thrashing of Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, moving onto 27 goals this season – the most he has netted in a single campaign.

While Guardiola has praised Sterling's performances, he also lauded the 25-year-old for his work off the field.

"People forget that behind the shirt they are human beings," he told reporters.

"I've said many times to my players, 'I know for a long time you've been told you're special, but you're not. All you can do is play football, but you are not an architect, you are not a politician, you are not a doctor, you are not a thousand, million things you can do. You can just play football'. That doesn't make us special.

"But we are human beings at the same time like all the architects, politicians, doctors, journalists. They have feelings and they defend the humanitarian issues in the best possible way.

"I like it because when you have a commitment to society to make a better society for yourself and for your kids, this commitment helps to become a better player. The big athletes always make a commitment, a compromise for society.

"I think Raheem and many, many of our players, a lot of people are trying to make a better world.

"It's difficult, in the world we're living, but I'm proud. I'm really proud of what he is doing and he knows, as a club, myself as a person, we support him 100 per cent."

After back-to-back 5-0 wins, City host Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Pep Guardiola is feeling "confident" as Manchester City prepare to learn their fate when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rules on the club's appeal against a two-year UEFA competition ban. 

European football's governing body announced the sanction in February, along with a €30million (£26.8m) fine, after finding City had committed "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations.

City swiftly announced their intention to appeal to CAS and their case was heard in June via video conference.

Pep Guardiola's team have already secured a top-four place in the Premier League this season, while they could add the FA Cup and the Champions League to the already retained EFL Cup.

Monday's verdict is likely to have far-reaching ramifications for the club's short and medium-term future, but Guardiola is optimistic over the outcome.

When asked if he would be able to sleep ahead of the ruling, Guardiola told reporters: "I'm going to sleep because I can't do anything [about the verdict]. I would love to do something but I can't.

"I'm confident in the club, I know the defence and their argument. We have to wait, I know there are many clubs in the Premier League waiting too, but we are going to wait.

"It was issued a long time ago, maybe 90 per cent of the people on the pitch and backroom staff were not there [at the club], but we will see and respect the decisions.

"I feel fully confident in what the club has done and allowed us to play in the Champions League next season." 

Those Premier League clubs chasing European places will take a great interest in the announcement too, as an extra spot will open up if the ban is either upheld or reduced to cover just the 2020-21 season.  

But Guardiola had nothing to say to those teams, instead focusing again on City and his belief they will be proven to have committed no offences.  

"We wait until Monday and after Monday, what UEFA says, the club will make a statement, and in my press conference I will give my answers, but now I cannot say anything else," he said.  

"We have been second [in the Premier League] again, for six or seven years in a row we are in the Champions League, it's a joy to watch our team, I love my guys, and we are ready for the rest of this season to do our best and I'm confident.  

"I don't know anything about this [the decision of CAS], just a feeling, I'm confident because I know what the club has done and will allow us to play the Champions League next season, and not just the Champions League, but to be recognised by everyone that nothing wrong happened."  

Similarly, Guardiola seemed unconcerned about what it would mean for him personally if City's appeal proved unsuccessful.  

"We wait until Monday, I think [City] will clarify everything in the next month in terms of the short-term future of the club and that's all," he added. "I have the feeling the club support me and that's the most important thing.  

"I have friends being above me in the hierarchy in higher positions than me, and we are incredibly honest. If we can do it, we can do it, if we can't, we can't.  

"I know they try to do the best for the club and that's why we can maintain the standards we achieved in the past, being in the Champions League again, and that's a great news for us." 

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.

Pep Guardiola lauded Raheem Sterling's development after the attacker's hat-trick in Manchester City's 5-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Sterling's treble saw him move onto 27 goals this season, the most he has scored in a single campaign.

Guardiola paid tribute to the England international, with Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva also on the scoresheet in the convincing win on Saturday.

"All credit to [Sterling]. Not just for the three goals, it's important for what we have ahead of us," the Manchester City manager told a news conference.

"His development as a player is because he wants to improve and we are so delighted with his performance.

"Raheem himself knows exactly what he has to do. He's a huge competitor and is self-confident, aggressive, he loves to score goals.

"We have wingers with the mentality to score goals which is so important."

City's win saw them mathematically secure a top-four finish in the Premier League with three games remaining.

However, they will have to wait until Monday to learn whether their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against a two-year European ban has been successful.

Guardiola said he was "very" confident City would be successful, while adding they had proven they deserved their place in the Champions League.

"It's the [CAS] decision, so it's so important. Of course it is. We have done what we have done, won our qualification on the pitch. No one can doubt this," he said.

"It's been an outstanding season from Liverpool, and congratulations to them again for winning the Premier League.

"In general, the level that we played at today has been quite similar for the whole season and now we're going to wait for Monday for the decision that will be taken."

Raheem Sterling is eager to make his record scoring season count by helping Manchester City secure silverware after his hat-trick in the 5-0 away win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

City made a top-four finish mathematically certain, as well as all but wrapping up second place as a treble from Sterling, plus goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva, saw off sorry Brighton.

It was a welcome away win on Saturday after three consecutive Premier League defeats on their travels, with a home game with Bournemouth up next before a key FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

Sterling has six goals in his past five games and moved onto 27 in all competitions, making this his best scoring season.

"The most important thing for me is trying to have goals to add value to the team," Sterling said to Sky Sports.

"At the end of the day [it is most important] to try and win the FA Cup final and try to win the Champions League as well otherwise these goals don't mean anything.

"I need to try and make these goals count.

"I think the problem we have had this season is we have created a lot of chances, but last season and the season before we had finished them and buried games early on.

"This season we haven't had that slight bit of luck but we are growing, doing things right and that is we need to do, continue making chances. We can't complain.

"We were disappointed last weekend with the loss away to Southampton when we created chances but we didn’t finish them. It is great to bounce back with another away win."

Sterling moved onto 17 Premier League goals and was asked if he was eyeing a late push for the golden boot, with Jamie Vardy five ahead of him atop the scoring charts.

Sterling said: "I said to myself earlier that I'm on 14 now and I need to score a hat-trick – and I’m grateful that I scored a hat-trick."

The England international was laughing as he attempted to answer what his intentions were for his hat-trick goal, which came in unusual circumstances nine minutes from time.

He inadvertently scored a header – his second of the match – through the legs of goalkeeper Mat Ryan while he was falling to the ground having forced his way past two Brighton defenders.

Sterling said: "I tried to flick it over his head, and I've seen the keeper come out and I have headed it in! It counts!"

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City ran riot in a 5-0 away victory over Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League.

England international Sterling made it six goals in five games, moving on to 27 strikes in all competitions – his best scoring tally in a single season.

His opener and a goal from Gabriel Jesus, who ended Saturday's match with two assists, ensured City were in complete control by half-time after making six changes to their starting XI.

Sterling netted again and Bernardo Silva scored before the hour mark as Brighton, who remain eight points clear of the bottom three, had no answer.

Nine minutes before the end, a determined Sterling grabbed his third.

Jesus and Eric Garcia had already missed early chances by the time Sterling put the visitors in front after 21 minutes.

He cut inside from the left and impressively found the far corner from 20 yards after collecting Jesus' headed lay-off.

Jesus had a shot deflected onto the crossbar by Brighton defender Lewis Dunk and also showed some great footwork to create a chance which Riyad Mahrez narrowly fired wide.

But City were not to be denied, Jesus tapping in from under the crossbar after Rodri had helped on a Kevin De Bruyne corner a minute before the break.

De Bruyne cannoned a free-kick off the post shortly after the restart and City soon got their third after 53 minutes when Sterling headed in Mahrez’s in-swinging free-kick from inside the six-yard box.

It was four in the visitors' next attack when Mat Ryan could not hold Bernardo Silva's deflected effort and Jesus kept the ball alive to allow the Portugal international to convert a simple follow-up.

Sterling’s hat-trick goal came in unusual fashion, as he forced his way past Dunk and Adam Webster before somehow creeping a header between Ryan's legs while he fell to the ground, with a scrambling Dan Burn then helping it over the line.
 

What does it mean? City emphatically end away-day blues

City had lost their last three Premier League away games, while they had scored just three times in their last six top-flight matches on their travels, despite an expected goals figure of 13.

They had no issues bringing those poor runs to a welcome end with a victory that all but secures second place in the Premier League after Chelsea's defeat against Sheffield United.


Jesus impresses with Aguero out

Brazil international Jesus scored his first goal since lockdown against Newcastle United last time out and, apart from the superb Sterling, was excellent as City's other standout in this game.

He scored one and assisted two as well as being a constant threat in a lively 63-minute outing. He now has 20 goals and 10 assists in a season where he has become even more important with Sergio Aguero out injured.


Brighton backline a concern

Convincing home defeats against Manchester United, Liverpool and now City mean Brighton are not yet mathematically safe. Facing Pep Guardiola's side is a formidable task at the best of times, but their defending did themselves no favours here, with City players constantly finding themselves unmarked close to goal.


What's next?

City will likely make changes ahead of their FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal when they host struggling Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday, a day before Brighton could seal safety when they play away to Southampton.

Manchester City are reportedly ready to give up two players in a deal for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move from Naples, with several of Europe's biggest clubs apparently keen to land the centre-back.

And City may know who they are ready to offer up as part of a deal.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARED TO GIVE UP TWO PLAYERS FOR KOULIBALY

Manchester City could use Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deal for Napoli star Koulibaly, according to The Sun.

The report says the Serie A club have already contacted City about Otamendi and Zinchenko.

Napoli are said to want €100million for Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara over recent weeks. However, ESPN reports the Premier League champions will not pursue a deal for the former Barcelona star.

- Speculation around Eric Garcia's future continues. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Manchester City defender is motivated to return to Barcelona, but the Premier League club have offered the 19-year-old a bumper contract, with his current deal expiring in 2022.

- Jonathan Ikone is seemingly attracting some interest. Le 10 Sport reports Chelsea and Inter are interested in the Lille forward. Ikone scored three goals and provided six assists in 28 Ligue 1 games in 2019-20.

- Will Roma get a deal done for Chris Smalling? Gianluca Di Marzio says Roma are in negotiations with Manchester United to make the defender's move permanent. The report says Roma's offer of €3m (£2.7m) to extend the loan for a season before a €15m (£13.4m) offer to make the move permanent has been deemed too low.

- Mesut Ozil wants to see out his contract at Arsenal, with his deal expiring in 2021. The Sun reports the attacker has told friends he will only consider playing in MLS or the Turkish Super Lig after he leaves Arsenal.

- Paris Saint-Germain could be looking to strengthen while weakening one of their Ligue 1 rivals. Foot Mercato reports PSG are interested in Lyon and France defender Leo Dubois.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri agreed with Pep Guardiola's assessment that facing Atalanta was "like going to the dentist".

Sarri's side face a huge test on Saturday when they host Atalanta, who are third in Serie A and nine points behind leaders Juve with seven games remaining.

Manchester City manager Guardiola compared playing Atalanta to going to the dentist, having beaten and drawn with the Italian side in the Champions League group stage.

Sarri agreed with Guardiola's description as he expects a difficult clash against Gian Piero Gasperini's men.

"It's an important moment of the season. Atalanta are not a surprise. They have done really well throughout the season, particularly away from home," he told a news conference. 

"They are a really difficult opponent. Atalanta have been a difficult opponent for everyone for a long time now.

"Guardiola gave the best description of them. It's like going to the dentist. You can end up well but you feel the pain. It's a really difficult team to face."

Sarri will come up against Guardiola in the Champions League quarter-finals if their respective teams get through their last-16 ties.

But the Italian said his focus was on Serie A before a clash with Lyon, who won the first leg of their tie 1-0 in France.

"I am not interested. We have only one goal now – the league. And after the league we have Lyon," Sarri said.

"It's really far away now so we don't have to waste any energy [thinking about it]."

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to fight for the Champions League "until the last effort they have in their bodies" after Friday's draw mapped out a devilishly tough route to glory.

The deposed Premier League champions hold a 2-1 last-16 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the August 7 return at the Etihad Stadium.

The winners of that tie will take on the victors of Lyon versus Juventus – the Ligue 1 outfit 1-0 to the good at the midway point – at UEFA's mini-tournament to decide the coronavirus-impacted Champions League in Lisbon on August 15.

Whichever team progresses from that quarter-final will meet the team remaining from Barcelona or Napoli and Bayern Munich or Chelsea.

"All of us want to try, to be ourselves in the game against Real Madrid, to try to defend really well and suffer the bad moments," Guardiola said ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

"Try to impose our game and our football, try to score our goals and defend the game against Real Madrid. It is incredible what [Madrid] have done in this competition, nobody has done it."

If City finally claim the prize Madrid have lifted on a record 13 occasions, they will do so in unique circumstances heightened by the reality of a trying season on and off the field.

Guardiola's team could be facing up to their final European game for two years next month, if the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides to uphold a two-season ban for contravening UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules. A verdict in the case is due on Monday.

The Champions League, along with the FA Cup, offers the chance to triumphantly salvage a campaign where they meekly surrendered the Premier League title to Liverpool.

This crescendo of events is something Guardiola believes has got through to his players.

"I feel the motivation," he said. "I have the feeling from my players and the club that we have, in the next four weeks, something that is not coming back again.

"Of course, we have the chance to fight but the situation that we have is not coming back again.

"I think the big clubs don't miss these chances to try until the last effort they have in their bodies."

The situation will certainly not come back for club great David Silva.

City's veteran playmaker is set to leave at the end of his contract and, as a World Cup and two-time European Championship winner with Spain, he is seeking the biggest honour to have eluded him over the course of a decorated career.

"David has won everything," Guardiola said. "The World Cup, European Championships with Spain, the Premier League and all the titles you can achieve except the Champions League.

"All of the players want to try but the younger ones, maybe they think they have more chances.

"Maybe David might go back to Europe with another top club and have another chance. But I'm pretty sure after one decade in this club, he will try."

With a top-four place in the Premier League now guaranteed – whatever that comes to mean – Guardiola's main challenge for the rest of the campaign is getting Silva and the rest to next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal and the Madrid match in prime condition.

He concedes this is a balancing act but will not shirk from giving Premier League minutes to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, even if sight of the star midfielder receiving a heavy knock during the closing stages of Wednesday's 5-0 win over Newcastle United caused understandable disquiet among the City faithful.

"That's part of football. The important thing is they are fit," he added.

"We cannot say one or two games, don't play and then come back. Sometimes the players who play regularly are in better condition for the important games.

"Arsenal is an important point but it's important to keep momentum and rhythm to the way we play."

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed it will announce a decision on Manchester City and their appeal against a Champions League ban on July 13.

The Switzerland-based body will confirm the verdict at 10:30 local time (08:30 GMT) on Monday, it said in a statement on Friday.

City's hearing at CAS began on June 8 and concluded two days later, with proceedings having been conducted by video call.

The Premier League club are seeking to overturn UEFA's decision to ban them from European competition for the next two seasons and fine them €30million (£27.2m) after finding them guilty of "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

City have persistently denied wrongdoing in relation to the matter, which stemmed from a series of articles published by Der Spiegel in November 2018, drawing on information purportedly obtained by the whistleblower Football Leaks.

"The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position," read a statement at the time from City, who UEFA said had "failed to cooperate" with the investigation.

Speaking on Friday, City manager Pep Guardiola said he had faith in the club's chances of success in their appeal.

"I'm so confident because I saw the arguments of the club that next season we will be there [in Champions League]," he said.

In an interview with HLN, star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne suggested he might be happy to stay at City in the event of a reduction to a one-year ban, although a two-year Champions League absence would force him to consider his options.

"I'm just waiting," he said. "The club told us they are going to appeal, and they are almost 100 per cent sure they are right. That's why I'm waiting to see what will happen. I trust my team.

"Once the decision is made, I will review everything. Two years would be long, but in the case of one year I might see."

Pep Guardiola still feels Bernardo Silva is one of the most special footballers he has ever coached despite the midfielder's dip in form this season – something for which the Manchester City boss takes his share of responsibility. 

Silva was voted City's player of the season as he and his team-mates swept to a domestic treble in 2018-19, but his performances this time around have been indicative of a general malaise, with Liverpool storming clear of their rivals to claim the Premier League title. 

The Portugal international has featured infrequently in the right-sided attacking midfield position he occupied for a chunk of last term, with Kevin De Bruyne back to full fitness and in prime form. 

Similarly adept on the right-hand side of attack, Silva has found his path blocked by Riyad Mahrez and, more recently, Phil Foden. 

The previous campaign concluded with the former Monaco man being named player of the tournament as Portugal claimed the inaugural Nations League title, and fatigue has not been difficult to spot in his work at times. 

A Football Association ban for tweeting a racially insensitive cartoon to team-mate Benjamin Mendy placed Silva in hot water off the field and, speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, Guardiola conceded a downturn from the playmaker has been obvious. 

"That's true maybe he didn't play as much as last season," he said. 

"This season, maybe it was my fault or maybe Phil was more involved and Riyad maintained his level and the other players played good too. 

"They know the competition they have with each other, but my admiration, respect, especially my opinion about him, nothing has changed. 

"He's a special player for me. One of the most special players I had in my career as a manager, the relationship I have with him." 

Guardiola is particularly impressed by Silva's acceptance of his situation – a stark contrast to when his manager said the City team last season was "Bernardo plus 10" – and is confident the 25-year-old knows what he must do to turn things around.

"He's a guy who doesn’t change his mood whether he plays or doesn't play," he said. "There are players that just are happy when they play and they smile at me and smile at the backroom staff when they play. 

"When they don't play, they make you feel they are not happy and they behave like a little, little child. 

"Bernardo is completely opposite. He's a mature man. He's a man who knows exactly what has happened, how this moment is and always he's the same person. 

"That's why he is an incredible person for me to work with and always I will be grateful. 

"In the time we spend together, the only thing I want is to help him to come back at his best level. If there is one player in this team who I would give help and support, it's Bernardo Silva. He's the first on the list." 

Mahrez scored his 10th Premier League goal of the season during Wednesday's 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United and Friday marked the two-year anniversary of his £60million arrival from Leicester City. 

Guardiola is impressed by the Algeria international's performances but suggested he could sometimes use some of Silva's good grace. 

"He's an incredible player, fantastic self-confidence," he added. "He is a guy who always creates something special, in assists and goals. 

"We are delighted to have him and hopefully he can help us when he plays and when he doesn't play. Hopefully I can help him to improve this detail." 

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". 

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