Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola does not believe Sunday's surprise Premier League loss to Southampton highlights the need for the club to sign new players.

Guardiola's City suffered their third consecutive away defeat in the Premier League after going down 1-0 to Southampton at St Mary's on Sunday.

After routing newly crowned champions Liverpool 4-0 last time out, City – who rested Kevin De Bruyne and others – succumbed to Che Adams' first Premier League goal as they fell 23 points adrift in second position.

Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and Bayern Munich's David Alaba have been among the players linked with moves to City at the end of the season.

But when asked if City's defeat was a question of needing new players, Guardiola told reporters: "No, I don't think so.

"I think we play good, honestly. We play with the character and desire to drive until the end. We played against Southampton who had 10 players in the penalty area. We did it really well.

"We will review the game, and with the chances that we had, we can do more. It's difficult to create more chances than we created and the way we did it.

"I'm so proud, so I liked the way we played but it's not enough. There's no complaint about the players. We played really well, I like it but it's not enough to win the games."

Guardiola, meanwhile, does not feel City goalkeeper Ederson is to blame for the loss to Southampton.

Adams scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute, catching the Brazilian keeper off his line after Oleksandr Zinchenko had been dispossessed of the ball.

"We use our keeper to build up our play. We use our keeper to play better," Guardiola said. "It gives us a lot. The mistake is part of the game but we didn't lose for that reason.

"It happens many times this season this situation. The amount of chances we have but it's football. The amount of chances we have but not able to score goals."

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted Lionel Messi has always expressed a desire to retire at Camp Nou amid doubts over his future.

Messi is contracted to Barca until 2021 but a report emerged on Thursday claiming the six-time Ballon d'Or winner wants to leave next year.

The superstar captain put question marks over his future to one side on Sunday, producing a masterclass in Barca's 4-1 LaLiga rout of Villarreal.

Messi reached 19 LaLiga assists for the season – his best tally in Spain's top flight – and Bartomeu was asked about the 33-year-old post-match.

"I am not going to explain the details of what is happening every week. There are negotiations with many players," Bartomeu told Movistar.

"Messi has always expressed that he wants to end his career at Barcelona."

Bartomeu was also asked about under-fire head coach Quique Setien after Barca stayed within four points of bitter rivals Real Madrid with four games remaining.

Two-time defending champions Barca are on track to be dethroned by Madrid this season, with Setien reportedly set to be axed.

But Bartomeu said: "I know there are rumours. It is totally false.

"Quique Setien has the confidence of everyone, of the players, of the board, he is doing a great job.

"There are four games left and then we have the Champions League. We have important games to play this season."

Barca face bottom side Espanyol in Wednesday's LaLiga derby.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp labelled Thiago Alcantara a "really good player", but was unwilling to say too much about the Bayern Munich midfielder.

Thiago, 29, is out of contract at the Bundesliga club next year and has been linked with a move to Anfield.

Asked about the former Barcelona midfielder amid the transfer talk, Klopp only praised Thiago's quality.

"Would you be surprised if I don't give an answer on that? Just because I never answer these kinds of questions," he told a news conference after Liverpool's 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.

"Thiago Alcantara is a really good player. I like a lot of other players out there, but that's all I have to say about that."

Liverpool returned to winning ways thanks to second-half goals from Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones as the champions moved closer to the 100-point mark.

Naby Keita set up Mane's opener and Klopp praised the midfielder, who has struggled to impress since arriving from RB Leipzig in 2018.

"Naby is a top player and it was a difficult game and he was really good. He helped us a lot, not only with the goal. He always made offers. It was not his best game but it was good," he said.

"We play in three days again which is tough, then three days again. It's a tough period, but you need to find solutions for the different moments and Naby was the solution."

Liverpool are away to Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta insists Lautaro Martinez has "not shown the slightest desire to leave" amid continued speculation Barcelona are interested in the Argentina international.

Martinez, who missed a penalty in Inter's 2-1 Serie A defeat to Bologna on Sunday, has been strongly tipped to make a move to Camp Nou at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Marotta was again asked about the forward prior to the defeat at San Siro and he reiterated Inter's desire to hold on to the 22-year-old.  

"Lautaro has not shown the slightest desire to leave," Marotta told DAZN.

"Aside from dates and deadlines, the clearest situation is that Inter do not want to sell their champions or interesting young talents. If the player were to ask to leave, we would evaluate that together, but so far, that request has not arrived.

"I believe that, being a young player, it can boost his career to continue playing for a while longer at Inter.

"Being an Inter player means being part of a big club and that ought to be reason enough for him to feel proud."

Marotta also dismissed rumours Inter have lodged a bid for Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri.

"I understand the many questions about transfer speculation, but I can say we have not had any contact or opened any negotiation for Emerson Palmieri.

"We are making evaluations for next season, but the most important issue remains this current campaign."

Mario Mandzukic is a free agent after the Croatian forward confirmed he has terminated his contract with Al-Duhail.

The 34-year-old only moved to Qatar in December after falling out of favour at Juventus, where he won four Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia on three occasions.

However, Mandzukic announced on Twitter that he had cut short his deal by mutual consent, adding: "I appreciate the trust and hospitality that I have received in Qatar and I wish the best to the club and the team in the future."

A return to Serie A could be a possibility - both ambitious Benevento and Milan have been rumoured as potential destinations - while he has also been linked to Turkish duo Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.

Prior to his successful stint with Juventus, Mandzukic played in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich - where he won the Champions League in 2013 - and Wolfsburg, as well as spending a season at Atletico Madrid in LaLiga.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes Schalke could have been Bundesliga champions in recent years had they not lost so many talented young players. 

After a promising first half to the 2019-20 season, Schalke endured a wretched run of results either side of the break in the campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic, failing to win any of their final 16 games to finish 12th.

There have also been issues off the pitch, with chairman Clemens Tonnies resigning following fan protests, while marketing director Alexander Jobst has confirmed there will need to be cuts due to the financial situation the club faces.

Yet their situation could have been different had they retained some of their rising stars through the years, according to reigning champions' Bayern Munich's chief executive Rummenigge.

Among those to move on were goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka, who both went to Bayern. The duo will be joined at the Allianz Arena next season by two more talents developed by Schalke, goalkeeper Alexander Nubel and Leroy Sane, the latter this week confirming his switch from Manchester City.

"Schalke could have been German champions in the meantime if they could have kept these and many other players who have trained them well in their youth division," Rummenigge told Sport1.

"The pool of their youth work is one of the best in all of Germany.

"The fact is that they have always sold very hopeful players, such as Leroy Sane to Manchester City in 2016, to meet their financial needs."

The COVID-19 health crisis is likely to have major financial implications on the vast majority of football clubs, even those seen as the biggest spenders in Europe.

Rummenigge revealed Bayern have never planned their budget around potential success, instead setting a relatively low bar each season to make sure they have long-term security.

"Until February, this was one of the safest [clubs] in the world," he said.

"If the team performed by reaching at least the last 16 in the Champions League and going very far in the DFB-Pokal, then they knew we always on June 30 that the year will be financially okay."

The former West Germany international feels the economic climate will naturally lead to changes in the transfer market, adding: "I think we all agree that we have to deal with transfer sums and player salaries a bit more responsibly and rationally. How we do that in the future – all over Europe – you will have to discuss."

David Alaba is yet to agree a contract extension at Bayern Munich, but Hansi Flick says it would be special if he finishes his career at the Allianz Arena.

Austria international Alaba's deal is due to expire next year, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City all credited with an interest in the versatile defender.

Following Bayern's DFB-Pokal final victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, in which Alaba scored the opening goal, Flick said he was keen for the 28-year-old and Thiago Alcantara to sign new contracts.

However, the Bayern boss acknowledged it will be "more difficult" to keep Thiago amid links to Premier League champions Liverpool.

"I will stand up for it and try everything to keep two such quality players," said Flick.

"David has become an exceptional player here. It's not just on the pitch that he's good for us.

"He knows he has a huge appreciation at the club. It would be very special if he ended his career here with us."

Since making his debut for Bayern in February 2010, Alaba has won 19 trophies.

Virgil van Dijk has revealed the Jurgen Klopp factor was the reason he joined Liverpool instead of Manchester City or Chelsea.

The centre-back left Southampton for Anfield in January 2018 for a reported fee of £75million, which represented a record transfer for a defender.

There were other interested parties in Van Dijk's services, notably City and Chelsea, but the Netherlands international only had eyes for the Reds due to manager Klopp, who led Liverpool to their first Premier League title this season.

"I had the chance to go to Chelsea and Man City," Van Dijk said in quotes published in several national newspapers.

"When you compare the clubs, you look at the history, the town, the current squad, their plans for the near future.

"But the most important thing you look at is the manager - and Jurgen Klopp is an important reason why I chose for Liverpool.

"Klopp has something special. Is it his energy? Is it his overall image?

"I sometimes sit and think about what he does and what he has more than others.

"I think it is his man-management. These days that is more important than anything in football.

"Klopp gives you this great feeling. He is genuinely happy when you walk into the club in the morning. It may sound daft, but that really inspires you as a player."

Van Dijk, 28, has already lifted the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup as a Liverpool player.

In the coming weeks he will get his hands on the Premier League trophy too, with Liverpool's status as champions confirmed last month with seven games still to play.

"I have always said that lifting the Premier League ­trophy would be a dream. That dream has become reality now," he added.

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick is hoping to convince Thiago Alcantara to remain with the German champions amid growing links to Liverpool.

Thiago is contracted until the end of 2020-21 but the Spain international is reportedly on the verge of leaving for Premier League champions Liverpool as Bayern brace for his exit.

The 29-year-old came off the bench with three minutes remaining in Bayern's 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in Saturday's DFB-Pokal final.

However, Flick has not given up on keeping star Thiago – who arrived from Barcelona in 2013 and has since won seven successive Bundesliga crowns among other honours.

"The thing is, I always have hope. I'm actually always very positive about things," Flick told reporters following the Berlin triumph.

"I also know, of course, that when you're at a certain age and you've already played in the Spanish league with Barcelona and in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, you feel the need to experience another big league. That is quite normal and that is also human.

"I'm trying my best to make sure Thiago stays here and that you can convince him to stay. But that's one thing that time will show.

"We still have the Champions League ahead of us now and we have a lot of plans, also together with him."

Flick was also asked about Bayern's transfer plans after prising Germany international Leroy Sane from Manchester City.

Bayern have been linked to Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, who scored a late consolidation goal on Saturday.

"We all know that of course the time with coronavirus has changed a lot," Flick added. "This means that many clubs, including FC Bayern Munich, can no longer spend money so easily. That's why we have to proceed cautiously.

"For now, Leroy Sane's commitment was important for the club and also for the team, which are taking the next step. Hasan Salihamidzic did a very good job of staying on the ball. I think a lot is developing and we have to see that we are a bit more broadly based."

Liverpool youngster Curtis Jones has signed a new long-term contract with the Premier League champions. 

The 19-year-old – who became Liverpool's youngest ever captain when he led out a youthful side in an FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury Town at Anfield in February – has started to break into the Reds' first team this term. 

Having made his Premier League debut as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Bournemouth in December, Jones scored his first senior goal to claim a 1-0 win in over Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round in January. 

"For me, as everyone knows, it's massive," Jones told Liverpool's official website. 

'It's my boyhood club and it's the whole of my family's club as well, so for me it's huge. I think the environment and stuff is all positive and keeps me as positive as I can. 

"Of course, we're working with a great manager and around the best team in the world, so for me it was easy and [I'm] extremely proud." 

Jones, who has made eight appearances in total this term, also believes he is learning from the best as he attempts to cement his place in Jurgen Klopp's squad.

"It's a perfect environment. I've got great boys around that help me every day – Hendo (Jordan Henderson), Millie (James Milner), [Adam] Lallana, Fabinho, the whole of the team is perfect for me to watch every day in training," he added.

"But to be involved with them, you pick up so many things and the detail in what they do and they do everything perfect – their professionalism around the place, it's perfect.

"So I'm picking up all that and taking it into my game and to me as a person. It's paying off right."

James Milner admits leaving Liverpool could have been an option in Jurgen Klopp's first full season at the club after he was asked to play out of position. 

The 34-year-old left Manchester City in 2015 to play more regularly in centre midfield yet spent a lot of the 2016-17 campaign plying his trade at left-back. 

Milner's experience has aided Liverpool in the past few seasons and he signed a new deal in December that runs through to 2022. 

But the former England international could have pushed for a move away three years ago and says it took time to adapt to Klopp's demands on the training pitch. 

On moving to left-back, he told Sky Sports: "It was what the manager needed at the time. There's always going to be positions you prefer but you do what's needed for the team.

"I suppose at that point I could have turned around and said, 'No I don't want to do that, I want to leave'.

"He came to ask me to do it in pre-season and my mindset was, 'Okay, how can I be the best I can be in that position?' and I started to learn the role.  

"A few of the boys were a bit surprised when we set up at pre-season training the next day and I was at left-back, but that was part of the fun." 

Asked about Klopp's intense training sessions, Milner added: "We had to adapt to that - there were a lot of injuries early on. 

"People were saying, 'You can't do that!' You could, you just had to get used to it. Straight away you saw the tempo and the intensity in that first game at Spurs. 

"It was ridiculous really, it wasn't like we played at a slow tempo under Brendan [Rodgers]. That journey started then with the manager's methods and how he wanted us to play. 

"You saw it come in bit by bit. One week the quality would be there and the next week we would be miles off it. 

"That was a process again; the consistency started to come in and, eventually, learning how to win ugly and become a more rounded team."

Milner has been restricted to just eight league starts this term, however, and has recently been linked with a move back to boyhood club Leeds United.

The Yorkshire club are on course to earn promotion to the top flight after a 16-year absence and Milner has not ruled out returning at some stage in the future.

"You never know in football what's around the corner, but I just want to contribute and win as many trophies as I can for Liverpool and add to the great history here," he said.

"I'm biased, but I think the Premier League will be a better place for Leeds in it, and it will be weird to play against them next season."

Quique Setien refused to be drawn into a debate around Lionel Messi's future following reports he will leave Barcelona next year, though the coach was adamant he has not heard the player himself state he wants to move.

Barca were held to a 2-2 draw by Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, and Real Madrid's subsequent win over Getafe on Thursday allowed Los Blancos to go four points clear at the top of LaLiga.

It was the third match in four that Barca have failed to win and reports began to circulate on Thursday that Messi has decided to leave in 2021 when his contract expires.

While some have put that down as a ploy to oust unpopular club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, others are concerned about such an idea taking root and becoming reality, with Messi reported to like the idea of once again linking up with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

Rumours of in-house squabbling and a poor relationship between the players and coaching staff have also developed in recent weeks, but Setien insists he has heard nothing from Messi about his supposed plan to leave.

"I am not going to speculate on this because I have not heard him say anything about it and it is not my job," Setien said in Saturday's pre-match news conference ahead of a meeting with Villarreal.

"I repeat, he looks well to me, Leo. The rest is speculation that does not even enter my consideration; that's what you [the media] are for. I see him training well, nothing more."

Riqui Puig is a Barca player around whom there is much positivity, with the 20-year-old midfielder producing some effective displays since the resumption and that has not been lost on Setien.

"We have all seen his level," he said. "Riqui has taken a very important step and has gained continuity in these games, but I tell him not to rest on what he's doing, but to improve.

"He is aware of the opportunity that has been given him, and this is the way. Then the rest, we'll see."

Barca return to action on Sunday at in-form Villarreal, who have won five and lost none of their six matches since LaLiga resumed last month.

Jadon Sancho still wants a move to Manchester United, while Inter could be ready to buy Alexis Sanchez.

Sancho, 20, has been linked with numerous European giants after starring for Borussia Dortmund.

While he could be set for Old Trafford, United may opt to get rid of Sanchez permanently.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHO STILL WANTS MAN UTD MOVE

Sancho wants a move to Manchester United but the Premier League giants must still find an agreement with Dortmund, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The England international has been linked to the likes of United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Sancho is contracted at Dortmund, where he arrived in 2017, until 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

- On loan at Inter this season, Sanchez could stay at San Siro even longer. Goal reports the Serie A giants are looking to sign the Chile international permanently from Manchester United, for a cut-price deal of €20million (£18m).

- Eric Garcia could be getting closer to a Barcelona return. Sport reports the LaLiga giants have started talks with Manchester City regarding the defender, who left Barca for the Premier League side in 2017.

- Amid uncertainty over his future, it seems Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is looking for a new deal at Arsenal, where his contract expires in 2021. ESPN reports the forward wants a minimum three-year contract worth £250,000 per week.

- Tottenham reportedly had a chance to move Tanguy Ndombele on. The Telegraph reports Spurs rejected an offer to send Ndombele to Juventus, with Aaron Ramsey heading in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Goal says Tottenham are trying to sign Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, but are facing competition from Juve.

- Daniele De Rossi only retired earlier this year, but the former Italy international is seemingly already attracting interest to be a coach. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Fiorentina are ready to offer the former midfielder the chance to take the helm.

Willian has done enough to earn a new contract at Chelsea, according to head coach Frank Lampard.

Experienced winger Willian agreed to remain with the Blues until the end of the Premier League campaign, with his deal having been due to expire last week.

The Brazil international, who turns 32 in August, has scored three times and set one up in his four appearances since the season resumed following its three-month suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lampard remains hopeful Chelsea can reach a resolution with Willian to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

"I haven't given up hope on it, the club are still in discussions with him," said Lampard.

"We want him to stay at the club but I also appreciate the fact this contract for Willian is a big deal because of his age and where he's at, I've been there before myself and I respect that.

"But the way he's playing at the minute I think shows his worth to the squad and the group. It's something I hope we can get to.

"Whatever way [it goes] with Willian, he's been a great servant to the club and if we can get it I'll be happy, if not I'll wish him well because I've got a lot of time for him as a player and in the short term we can see what he's doing for us. It's ongoing is the short answer."

Saturday's meeting with Watford will mark a year since Lampard took over Chelsea amid a transfer embargo and with Eden Hazard having departed for Real Madrid.

The fourth-placed Blues are on course to qualify for the Champions League, which Lampard feels would be a significant feat given the circumstances.

However, he acknowledged they will be expected to kick on next season.

"I don't want to measure ourselves against other clubs, we all have our own issues. The expectation [was low] at the start of the season – and quite rightly, even myself I'm a realist and coming in knowing we'd lost Eden and the input he had individually at the club alone was huge and how do we work around that," said Lampard.

"I think we've found good ways to work around it with development of the youth, the performances of some of the senior players, the way we're trying to play.

"We're nowhere near the finished article but [with] some of the style of play stuff we've found really good levels at times.

"We're going up against two of the best club teams in the world [next season] … so we may find that the curve looks slightly different. We have to fight against that and try to close the gap as quickly as we can, in whatever way we can.

"I'm pretty pleased and I'm always a perfectionist and want more, but it means nothing if we don't finish off the season well.

"So these next games until the end of the season are huge for us to try to say we're pleased at the end of the season, because if we get in the Champions League spots of course I'll be very, very pleased."

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