Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden has no plans to alter his personality in the wake of Pep Guardiola's suggestion that he is "shy" and shows him too much "respect".

Talented teenager Foden has continued to remain on the periphery of City's first team this season, with Guardiola having an enviable battery of attacking midfielders that includes Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and David Silva.

Last month Guardiola said Foden - who has made just three Premier League starts in his career to date and played only 10 minutes this term - needs to be more assertive and start acting like an established member of City's first-team squad given he has been around the group since making his senior debut in 2017.

However, the 19-year-old disagrees with Guardiola's assertion and promised to let his football do the talking.

"He has his own opinions and I stick by how I am," England Under-21 international Foden told reporters.

"I just know that I'm ready to play. I feel like I am. I try to show him every day in training.

"There is a bit of team-mates telling me to be patient but obviously I'm hungry and want to play now.

"I'm going to fight for it every day. I'm ready to play whenever."

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 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.

Bernardo Silva believes Manchester City prodigy Phil Foden will rank among the world's best midfielders within two years.

A City academy graduate, the homegrown 19-year-old has lived with big expectations since breaking into City's first-team setup in the title-winning 2017-18 season.

Pep Guardiola used him 13 times in the Premier League last term and, in July, went so far as to describe Foden as the "most talented player" he has ever seen, ahead of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Likewise, Portugal international Silva is "very excited" about the youngster's potential and expects him to make a rapid rise to the top of the game, so long as the pressure on his shoulders is carefully managed.

"I just think he's six years younger than me, but he's a huge, huge talent," Silva told the BBC.

"If he keeps working as hard as he does every day, because he does work very hard, and if his mentality is good - and he has that - [then in] one, two years he will be one of the best midfielders in the world.

"To go from the second team of Manchester City to the first one, it is a huge step.

"Me, I was from the second team at Benfica, to Monaco, then always growing, and then Manchester City.

"I don't know what kind of pressure he has, but he enjoys playing football so much and he loves what he does."

Foden, who is yet to win a senior England cap, made a 10-minute cameo off the bench in City's season-opening 5-0 win at West Ham, the 19th Premier League appearance of his career.

Silva added: "He will be successful because when you have a good mentality like he has and when you are good, because he's very good, it's a matter of time.

"Sometimes you need six more months, sometimes you need one more year, but sooner or later he will be one of the best."

Phil Foden is "the most talented player" Pep Guardiola has seen, but the Manchester City manager has not promised the English youngster more game time.

Academy graduate Foden has been in-and-out of City's first-team squad over the past two campaigns, making 26 appearances across all competitions last season.

The 19-year-old came on as a substitute in City's 6-1 friendly win over Kitchee on Wednesday, after returning late to pre-season following his exploits with England at the European Under-21 Championship.

With Guardiola revealing City are unlikely to add to their squad following the arrivals of Rodri and Angelino, Foden could well be afforded more chances in the coming season.

And Guardiola, whose side face Yokohama F.Marinos in their final pre-season match on Saturday, has no doubt over Foden's talent.

"He is the most talented player I have ever seen," the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola said at a news conference.

"His problem is sometimes his manager doesn't put him in starting XI.

"He deserves all the minutes, but with his competitors it isn't easy. He works incredibly. He knows I'm here to help him."

After taking on Marinos, Premier League champions City will travel back to England to prepare for their Community Shield clash with Liverpool at Wembley on August 4.

 

David Silva has backed Phil Foden to fill his boots when he leaves Manchester City at the end of next season, saying of the 19-year-old: "He reminds me of myself when I was young."

Former Spain international Silva announced his decision to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of 2019-20, which will be his 10th and final campaign for the Premier League champions.

Foden has made 38 first-team appearances during his two seasons in Pep Guardiola's senior squad and his performances have seen him earmarked as a star of the future.

Silva sung Foden's praises as he discussed his departure from City, telling reporters: "I'm sure he's going to be a fantastic player. He's a very nice man and he will be a good replacement for me.

"Apart from his natural skills, he's a very competitive person. He always wants to win and that makes a very good footballer.

"When you're young, you always ask people with experience. I've given him lots of advice, like how to move on the pitch. He's taken the information in and he's getting better day by day."

"He reminds me of myself when I was young — especially how he is as a person. He's very quiet but always there, competing. He hates losing.

"The best advice I can give him is always stay calm. Whatever happens in football, the highs and lows, always keep calm."

Silva's announcement comes in the wake of Vincent Kompany's decision to swap City for his boyhood club Anderlecht, where he will be player-manager next season.

Speaking at the launch of a campaign to stop domestic violence in his native Gran Canaria, Silva spoke about the challenge that awaits his club in replacing the man who won four Premier Leagues, two FA Cups and four EFL Cups during his 11 years as a City player.

"It's going to be very difficult to replace a player like Vinnie, on the pitch and off it," said Silva, who has made 396 appearances for City, scoring 70 goals.

"He was an excellent warrior for City. But with the new generation we will find another one, another Vinnie.

"You always need experienced footballers around to help you. But City's future is in safe hands with Bernardo [Silva], Raheem [Sterling], Leroy [Sane] and Phil there."

Kyle Walker's fresh contract running until 2024 continues a trend at Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

The Catalan led his club to back-to-back Premier League titles last season, before completing a clean sweep of domestic honours and he is keen to keep a core of proven winners together.

An ongoing FIFA investigation into City that could result in a transfer ban means this approach could be prudent, although it is a policy that predates football's authorities taking an active interest in the club's affairs.

A £50million signing from Tottenham in 2017, England defender Walker is in it for the long haul at the Etihad Stadium – and he is far from the only one.

Kyle Walker (age 29, contracted until 2024)

Significantly older than the other players on this list, underlining the esteem in which Guardiola holds the full-back. Walker overcame a mid-season form slump with flying colours in 2019 and brought up 100 City appearances as Watford were swatted aside in the FA Cup final. Danilo is reportedly seeking pastures new due to Walker locking down the right-back slot, with Juventus' Joao Cancelo a rumoured target to bring fresh competition.

Bernardo Silva (age 24, contracted until 2025)

A £43.5million signing from Monaco in May 2017, Silva truly came to the fore last season. The Portugal playmaker's superb form and versatility meant Kevin De Bruyne's injury woes did not hinder City to any major extent. Like Walker, his initial deal ran until 2022. A Guardiola favourite.

Ederson (age 25, contracted until 2025)

A sharp, fearless shot-stopper, Ederson's composure and skill on the ball felt like the final piece in the jigsaw for Guardiola, enabling City to fully take on their manager's style. Despite agreeing a six-year contract after joining from Benfica for £35m in June 2017, he confirmed an additional two years at the conclusion of the 2017-18 campaign.

Aymeric Laporte (age 25, contracted until 2025)

The French centre-back has become Guardiola's 'Mr Dependable' at the heart of defence, mixing an elegant assurance on the ball with an imposing physical side to his game. A £57m recruit after City triggered Athletic Bilbao's release clause last January, Laporte bolted two more years on to his Manchester stay this February.

Raheem Sterling (age 24, contracted until 2023)

Arguably the greatest success story of Guardiola's City tenure, Sterling is now an indispensable attacking asset for club and country. The former Barcelona boss had long been keen on his star winger signing fresh terms before he settled upon a three-year extension in November 2018.

Kevin De Bruyne (age 27, contracted until 2023)

Forced to be a peripheral figure for much of the treble assault, De Bruyne was named City's Player of the Season in 2017-18. The Belgium midfielder's stellar form towards the back end of 2017 apparently had Europe's super clubs licking their lips, meaning his renewed commitment in January 2018 was a source of joy and relief for supporters.

Gabriel Jesus (age 22, contracted until 2023)

Brazil forward Jesus has perhaps not kicked on as expected from his emphatic introduction to life in Manchester in 2017, when he threatened to unseat Sergio Aguero as City's premier striker. Aguero's status is once again undisputed, but a new contract signed last November showed Jesus remains an important part of City's future.

Phil Foden (age 19, contracted until 2024)

The jewel of City's much-vaunted academy system, Foden finished last season with seven goals in all competitions - including a vital headed winner on his second Premier League start against Tottenham in April. A mesmeric solo goal for England Under-21s against France on Tuesday underlined Foden's enticing potential.

England crumbled to a dramatic 2-1 defeat to France in their European Under-21 Championship opener on Tuesday after having Hamza Choudhury sent off, while Romania thrashed Croatia 4-1.

The Young Lions impressed in the first half, looking by far the more promising of the two sides going forward, with Demarai Gray going close twice.

Nevertheless, England were fortunate to go into the break level, as Moussa Dembele had his 25th-minute penalty saved by Dean Henderson after the ball struck Jake Clarke-Salter's arm.

England got a deserved opener just after the break and it was worth the wait. Phil Foden slalomed between two defenders, then evaded a third before delicately placing his effort into the bottom-right corner.

But a moment of rashness from Choudhury saw the Leicester City youngster shown a straight red - after a VAR review - for a wild tackle on Jonathan Bamba and, although Houssem Aouar struck the post with the resulting spot-kick, the sending off gave France the advantage.

Jonathan Ikone found the bottom-right corner to level in the 89th minute, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka calamitously put the ball into his own net deep into stoppage time to give France the win.

In Group C's early kick-off, Romania enjoyed an emphatic start by hammering Croatia.

Following a lively opening, Romania took the lead in the 11th minute – George Puscas converting a penalty after Filip Benkovic was penalised for handball following a VAR review.

Puscas then pounced on a poor headed back-pass three minutes later, nodding past the goalkeeper and seeing his effort cleared off the line, only for Romania icon Gheorghe Hagi's son Ianis to subsequently slot home.

Nikola Vlasic pulled one back with a 25-yard strike shortly afterwards and almost got a swift second, forcing Ionut Radu into a fine save.

Romania capitalised on that let-off in the second half. Tudor Baluta intercepted a stray pass, glided past a defender and coolly found the net in the 66th minute before substitute Adrian Petre wrapped things up at the end, guiding home Cristian Manea's cross from close range.

Luka Jovic was officially unveiled as a Real Madrid player on Wednesday, and Los Blancos' new striker is one of the headline names taking part in the Under-21 European Championship.

The tournament starts on Sunday, with Poland taking on Belgium before hosts Italy face Spain; Jovic's first taste of the competition will come when Serbia play against Austria in Group B on Monday.

But Jovic is not the only young star who is looking to shine at this event, with Manchester City's Phil Foden likely to be a key cog in England's midfield, while Sandro Tonali is one of Italy's brightest prospects.

And, ahead of the tournament, we have taken a look at the main players who will be looking to make an impact for each side.

GROUP A

Belgium – Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht)

Anderlecht are no strangers to a teenage star becoming a key man; think Romelu Lukaku, Aleksandar Mitrovic or Youri Tielemans. Verschaeren is the next such prospect and his form has been so impressive that he could feature for Belgium at this tournament, despite being just 17. He is not yet capped at under-21 level, but that will soon change in the coming weeks for the silky attacking midfielder.

Italy – Sandro Tonali (Brescia)

Despite only turning 19 last month, Tonali has already established himself in Brescia's first team. He was a revelation in Serie B in 2018-19, helping his side to the title and subsequent promotion. A technically gifted midfielder who has been likened to Azzurri great Andrea Pirlo, Tonali is sure to be central to most of the host nation's play throughout the competition.

Poland – Sebastian Szymanski (Dinamo Moscow)

While many players at this tournament might hope to earn a move with their performances, Szymanski has already done that. Dinamo Moscow paid a reported €5.5million to Legia Warsaw for the talented playmaker just a few weeks ago, having emerged as one of the primary talents in the Ekstraklasa. A fine dribbler, agile and possessor of great vision, the 20-year-old – who was in Poland's preliminary squad for last year's World Cup – will be key for his side.

Spain – Dani Olmo (Dinamo Zagreb)

Dinamo Zagreb have a fine reputation for developing young players and Olmo is the latest. The winger left Barcelona at 16 to move to Croatia and it appears to be working out, having established himself as a key player. Good on the ball and an able goalscorer, Olmo might not be one of the household names in Spain's squad, but that could be about to change.

GROUP B

Austria – Dario Maresic (Sturm Graz)

Although critics say Maresic did not enjoy the best of seasons at Sturm Graz, the centre-back is impressively experienced for a 19-year-old, having been around the first-team since he was 16. A fine ball-playing defender, Maresic has often been linked with German and English clubs – this might be his best chance to impress yet.

Denmark – Joachim Andersen (Sampdoria)

Robert Skov's goals will be vital if Denmark are to make a splash in Italy, but they will also need to be solid at the back – that's where Andersen comes in. Signed from Twente in 2017, the Sampdoria centre-back enjoyed a breakout season in 2018-19, catching the eye with his ability to play out from the back. Arsenal are reportedly interested, but an impressive tournament could see his price tag continue to rise.

Germany – Alexander Nubel (Schalke)

Among the players going head-to-head with Jovic in the group stage will be Nubel, who enjoyed a breakthrough season with Schalke in the Bundesliga, unseating Ralf Fahrmann. Nubel made nine appearances in qualifying, conceding just seven goals and keeping five clean sheets, and could well be on course to prove himself as Manuel Neuer's heir apparent.

Serbia – Luka Jovic (Real Madrid)

Jovic's sensational form for Eintracht Frankfurt has earned the 21-year-old a mega-money move to Madrid. The former Benfica youngster scored 27 goals in all competitions for Frankfurt last term, and has also netted twice for the senior international team. With seven goals in qualifying, and riding the crest of a wave, Jovic will be aiming to drag Serbia deep into the competition, and he certainly has the talent to do so.

GROUP C

Croatia – Lovro Majer (Dinamo Zagreb)

The second Zagreb player to feature on this list, Majer's style of play has drawn comparisons to that of Luka Modric, who of course led Croatia to the World Cup final at Russia 2018. But Zlatko Dalic's team is an ageing one, and midfielder Majer, who made his international debut in 2017, could well be in line to play a key part in the senior squad in years to come.

England – Phil Foden (Manchester City)

There has been plenty of clamour for Foden to get more first-team opportunities at Manchester City in recent seasons, but Pep Guardiola has understandably taken his time in introducing the 19-year-old into a side that swept up four domestic trophies last term. Foden was a huge part in England winning the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, and Aidy Boothroyd is almost certain to turn to the playmaker to be England's creative fulcrum in their bid to win silverware.

France – Houssem Aouar (Lyon)

From one current City player, to a youngster that has been linked with a move to the Premier League champions. Aouar has been a consistent performer since establishing himself in Lyon's side during 2017-18, and is sure to be the one France look to supply the firepower for his club-mate Moussa Dembele. The 20-year-old, who is an exceptional passer, also thrives on getting among the goals, scoring 14 times in all competitions for Lyon over the course of the past two seasons.

Romania – Florinel Coman (Steaua Bucharest)

Winger Coman reportedly has a €100m release clause in his contract with Steaua Bucharest, whom he joined in 2017. A tricky, quick player with an eye for goal - he scored 12 across all competitions last term - he is without a doubt Romania's shining light heading into the tournament.

Phil Foden's progress in Manchester City's first team sets a vital example to the next generation of youngsters battling to make the grade for the Premier League champions, says youth team coach Gareth Taylor.

Foden made 26 appearances in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's treble winners in 2018-19, scoring seven goals – including his first in the Premier League, which secured a vital 1-0 win over Tottenham during the title run-in.

Breaking into City's lavishly assembled squad has proved a tall task for the club's leading young stars over recent years, with Jadon Sancho, Brahim Diaz and Rabbi Matondo all deciding to seek high-profile opportunities elsewhere.

The significance of boyhood City fan Foden seemingly lasting the course is not lost on Taylor.

"As coaches, we can say, 'This is what this guy did, this is how much he cared, this is how much he wanted to improve. These are the things you need to be looking at'," said the ex-City striker, who now takes charge of the club's under-18 side.

"I had Phil for two-and-a-half, three years. As well as being a top talent, he was an incredible lad to work with – very low maintenance, very humble, always doing extra.

"These are the key kind of credentials that you're looking for in young lads. To have Phil, someone who's worked his way up all the way through the academy, now working with amazing players and an amazing manager as a kind of a flagbearer is great for us."

All eyes will be on whether Foden can take a more prominent role in Guardiola's plans next term, with his thirst for involvement on matchdays at the Etihad Stadium something Taylor remembers with a smile.

"When I was coaching the under-16s, we kind of helped out with the ball boys. But the ball boys, usually, we try to have a cut-off at under-14, maybe under-15.

"Phil still wanted to do it at under-16. He probably did it only a calendar year before he was in the first team.

"He just wanted to be close to it all the time, he wanted to be close to the players and he loved that angle of being close to the pitch."

Foden turned 19 this week and will feature in England's bid for glory at next month's European Under-21 Championship, where a burning desire to improve identified by Taylor could pay dividends.

"With Phil it was always just sheer love of the game," he added. "He's doing the same now.

"I see him in the training sessions. Afterwards he'll take a bag of balls and you'll see him out there for ages.

"It's improving his game but, also, he just loves it. He absolutely just wants to play."

Manchester City became the first team to retain the Premier League title in a decade, backing up their 100-point season last time around with a similarly remarkable haul of 98.

They were pushed all the way by an irrepressible Liverpool side this time around, however, pipping Jurgen Klopp's men by a point thanks to Sunday's 4-1 win at Brighton and Hove Albion.

While a sense of exasperation has been easy to find at Anfield - what more could Liverpool have done? – City still appear to have room for improvement after passing a challenging campaign with flying colours domestically, an unprecedented treble two-thirds complete.

However, Europe remains the final frontier for Guardiola's City and a captivating recasting of English football's traditional Manchester-Merseyside rivalry does not look like going anywhere soon.

Here, we examine five factors that will be key to City taking another step forward in 2019-20.
 

A fully fit Kevin De Bruyne 

Perhaps the most impressive element of City following up last season so emphatically was them doing so for the most part without their most influential player of 2017-18. A pair of medial ligament injuries decimated the first half of Kevin De Bruyne's campaign. There were flashes of his best thereafter – most notably a trio of assists during City's thrilling Champions League quarter-final second leg against Tottenham – but two hamstring injuries continued a tale of woe. 

Rest, recuperation and an uninterrupted pre-season for a player who helped Belgium to third place at the 2018 World Cup on the back of 52 club games last term is a must. 


The next stage of Phil Foden's development 

When De Bruyne limped out of City's 1-0 win over Spurs in April, the home midfield was already in the safe hands of 18-year-old Phil Foden, who celebrated his second Premier League start with a decisive first goal. The England Under-21 playmaker remains very young for his position, but what already appears to be a prodigious mastery of it makes impatience in some quarters over his first-team opportunities understandable.  

Guardiola is only ever effusive in his praise of Foden, who scored seven goals in 26 appearances in all competitions this term, and has promised more minutes next season. Uncertainty over Ilkay Gundogan's future and David Silva's advancing years could mean 2019-20 is when one of English football's great hopes truly achieves lift-off. 


Getting Leroy Sane firing on all cylinders again

The raw numbers returned by Germany winger Sane speak of a very productive campaign, with 10 Premier League goals and as many assists. However, there are question marks over the lavishly gifted attacker, who has lost his place as a first-choice starter during the run-in – Guardiola preferring Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva to provide the wide support to Sergio Aguero in his front three.

The England and Portugal stars have been truly exceptional this season, but there are uncomfortable echoes of Sane's surprise axing from Germany's World Cup squad. His capacity to illuminate the big occasions is beyond doubt, as demonstrated by pivotal goals against Liverpool and Manchester United. However, Sane followed derby-day heroics from the bench with an underwhelming start at Burnley and an error-strewn cameo versus Leicester City. As a new contract remains unsigned and City are linked to Benfica wonderkid Joao Felix, it is clear there is work to be done.


Landing primary transfer targets

If you count Frenkie de Jong signing a pre-contract agreement with Barcelona last January, City have missed out on their main target in each of the past three transfer windows. Whether the respective fortunes of Jorginho and Alexis Sanchez at Chelsea and Manchester United respectively make that a blessing in disguise is a moot point, but Guardiola would be entitled to be a little frustrated with his great friend and City's director of football Txiki Begiristain.

The only major arrival for this season, record signing Riyad Mahrez, has underwhelmed significantly and this has been a title triumph rooted in a talented squad deepening their understanding and execution of Guardiola's complex instructions. Liverpool have still taken chunks out of the gap that existed and all eyes will be on reported transfer priorities, most notably Atletico Madrid's Rodri, who would serve as a much-needed heir to Fernandinho.  


Off-field investigations reaching a satisfactory conclusion

Another factor likely to sharpen City's focus in the market this close-season is the still-looming prospect of a transfer ban. FIFA, UEFA, the Premier League and the Football Association (FA) are all investigating elements of the club's financial operations following allegations made by German magazine Der Spiegel, which were based on documents purportedly obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks.

City welcomed the opening of UEFA's formal investigation into claims they insist are "entirely false". For Guardiola and his exceptional team, it feels important that due process is seen to be served, whatever the outcome. The City manager seems keenly aware of his place in football history and will want his side's impressive feats to sit in the books unsullied.

Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City have not been offered Manchester United star Paul Pogba again despite the Frenchman being linked with the Old Trafford exit.

Pogba has endured another erratic season at United, finding himself in and out of the team under Jose Mourinho, before suffering another dip in form recently.

Although consistency continues to elude Pogba, he has managed to score 13 Premier League goals this term and set up another nine.

Pogba was linked with City last season when Guardiola claimed - just before the derby - his agent had offered him to United's rivals, while Real Madrid are said to be circling following the return of Zinedine Zidane as coach.

But, ahead of Wednesday's Manchester derby, Guardiola refused to stoke any pre-match controversy again, insisting City have not been offered the World Cup-winning midfielder once more by agent Mino Raiola.

"No. No, no, definitely not," Guardiola told reporters when asked if Pogba had been made available to him. "He's a player for Man United."

Guardiola is already spoilt for choice in midfield, even with Kevin De Bruyne expected to miss the derby through another knee injury.

Phil Foden impressed against Tottenham last time out, scoring the only goal of the game in just his second Premier League start and he could start against United for the first time in De Bruyne's stead.

"Yes, he [Foden] is ready," Guardiola said of the Stockport-born 18-year-old.

"I don't know the importance to be a Man City fan or if being involved in that is going to help or not, but he is ready, of course.

"He would not be here [if he wasn't ready]. We'll see [if he starts] - I have to dream tonight."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has not seen many players like Phil Foden, who he believes is "special" and possesses "something that's difficult to find".

Foden marked just his second Premier League start with the decisive goal as City bounced back from Champions League elimination at the hands of Tottenham three days prior by defeating Mauricio Pochettino's side 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The 18-year-old was part of England's Under-17 World Cup-winning side in 2017 but has found establishing himself in Guardiola's star-studded midfield a tall order.

Foden has made 25 appearances in all competitions this term, a marked improvement on his 10 outings last season, and an injury to Kevin De Bruyne against Spurs could result in him featuring at Manchester United on Wednesday.

Guardiola has coached some of the greatest technical midfielders of the modern era, including Xavi and Andres Iniesta at Barcelona; and Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Xabi Alonso at Bayern Munich.

When asked if he had any players like Foden at Barca, Guardiola replied: "No. He's special."

On how the teenager can become a more prominent member of the first-team squad, he continued: "Next season he has to fight with Fernandinho, with David [Silva], with Kevin, with [Ilkay] Gundogan. He has to run and run and run to convince me he can play. But I trust him. I trust him a lot.

"When I just landed [in Manchester] Txiki [Begiristain, director of football] told me, 'You have to meet one player, 15 or 16 years old, you have to know him.' And the first season I did but one day or two days he came to training sessions and I said, 'Wow, you're right, Txiki. This player is good.'

"But I know how it works, so young players have to be careful. As quickly as you go up you can go down and sometimes you have to handle a little bit that situation, but we don't have any doubts, any.

"Any time he played he was the standard, he was top, he was at the level to be a Manchester City player. It's not easy play in the big teams like Tottenham or Barcelona, [Real] Madrid – the big, top, top clubs. He's able to do that and he's 18 years old and that's why I'm so satisfied.

"I see him every day in training sessions. He has something special this player. And I saw many players as a football player and a manager, I saw many, and this guy has something that's difficult to find.

"Now it's patience, work hard and nothing [more]. We're going to see how long his career [will last]. Hopefully a long time."

Mauricio Pochettino insists Premier League officials have his trust despite Tottenham appearing to be denied a clear penalty in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Phil Foden's early goal proved decisive, as Pep Guardiola's men secured a measure of revenge for their Champions League exit at the hands of Spurs on Wednesday.

Although Spurs suffered a defeat, Pochettino was delighted with his team's performance, as they looked the more threatening side for much of the game.

They were particularly unlucky to not be given the opportunity to level from the spot in the second half when Kyle Walker appeared to block a Dele Alli flick with his arm.

Referee Michael Oliver failed to point to the spot despite being in a decent position to see it, but Pochettino refused to point the finger at the officials.

"Nothing to say," Pochettino said in his post-match news conference. "Always it is about the interpretation of the referee.

"Nothing to say, nothing to complain about, that is football – sometimes it is for you. We trust in the referees and the decisions better than any system.

"Always I am going to back the decisions of the referees."

Despite defeat, Tottenham's top-four hopes remain in their own hands and the run-in looks kind.

Three of their final four games of the season are at home, with the solitary away match coming against a Bournemouth side struggling for form, and Pochettino is fairly relaxed about the situation.

"It is in our hands to be in the top four to be in the Champions League next season," Pochettino said.

"We are going to have now the next two games, they are going to be decisive, against Brighton [and Hove Albion] and West Ham.

"It is going to be tough now, because Tuesday we have another tough game now and then Saturday and then the Champions League semi-final against Ajax.

"I feel very proud. The performance was very good. At least we deserved a draw. The man of the match was the [City] goalkeeper, Ederson.

"We competed really well. We need to keep that feeling and try to translate Tuesday."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Phil Foden after his match-winning performance against Tottenham on Saturday and used the opportunity to hit back at those who criticised his use of Fabian Delph in the Champions League.

City held on to a nervy 1-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium, with Foden's goal – his first in the Premier League – coming after just five minutes.

Foden was making only his second top-flight start but looked at home as City claimed a measure of revenge for their European exit at the hands of Spurs, who progressed on away goals despite losing the quarter-final second leg 4-3 in midweek.

Spurs won the first leg 1-0 and Delph came in for significant criticism for his performance, as did Guardiola by extension, prompting a prickly response when asked about Foden following Saturday's win.

"Now I am a genius. He [Foden] scored a goal, how good is the manager? Then, after playing Delph in London, it is a disaster," Guardiola told reporters.

"Phil is an incredibly talented player and we have to pick him in the right moment. He has the quality to arrive in the box.

"Every time he plays he scores a goal or has chances. His ability in small spaces, it is not easy to play against [Eric] Dier or [Victor] Wanyama or [Christian] Eriksen.

"It is an incredible experience for him to play and I trust him a lot."

Kevin De Bruyne suffered an injury in the first half and was subsequently forced off, making him a doubt for the remainder of the season, while the Belgian will almost certainly miss Wednesday's trip to Old Trafford.

That could provide Foden with the opportunity to make his first start in a Manchester derby.

"Maybe," Guardiola said when asked if Foden could feature against Manchester United.

"Maybe Kevin is not there, so we will see. I didn't spend one second to think about the match at Old Trafford.

"I need to enjoy today and rest a bit and then watch as many games as possible from United."

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