Thiago Alcantara wants a new challenge away from Bayern Munich while Kai Havertz is unlikely to be joining the Bundesliga champions this year, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has revealed. 

Midfielder Thiago is under contract at the Allianz Arena until the end of next season yet has made clear to the club he is ready to move on at this stage of his career. 

The Spain international, who joined Bayern from Barcelona in July 2013, has been linked with newly crowned Premier League winners Liverpool. 

In an interview with BILD, chief executive Rummenigge made clear the Reds have yet to make contact over the 29-year-old, though his departure during the next window could still be possible.

"A top guy on and off the pitch," Rummenigge said of Thiago.

"We negotiated with him in a serious manner and granted him all his wishes. But it looks like he wants to do something new at the end of his career. 

"We've never had any contact with Liverpool. If he wants to do this, we have to deal with it.

"We don't want to lose a player for free next year. I say that very clearly."

While Thiago could be leaving, Bayern have bolstered their squad by signing Tanguy Kouassi and Leroy Sane, the latter arriving from Manchester City after a year-long transfer saga. 

However, a deal for Havertz is not expected to happen due to financial reasons, with clubs having to adapt accordingly following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Asked about Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Havertz, Rummenigge replied: "We also have a very big challenge ahead of us financially. Even if we like the player, we wouldn't be able to lift it financially this year." 

Jurgen Klopp rejected any talk of focus being shifted to next season as Premier League champions Liverpool look to bounce back from defeat at Manchester City when they face Aston Villa.

The Reds welcome Villa to Anfield on Sunday, having succumbed to a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of City in their first game since dethroning Pep Guardiola's men.

Afterwards, Sterling said that "next season started today" for City, who can still complete a treble by adding the FA Cup and Champions League to their EFL Cup triumph.

Klopp dismissed those comments, however, insisting both Liverpool and City are firmly focused on this campaign, even though his side have no more trophies to play for.

"City is not thinking about next season, we don't think about next season, we think about this season," Klopp told a media conference.

"City has a lot to go for, we have a lot to go for. We have six football games, we felt last night how difficult it is.

"The desire and the greed that we saw last night, that's why we are where we are. We will not stop being like this but we have to be 100 per cent concentrated in all moments of the game and especially against City because they use all little moments of the game.

"That's why I do not think about the next six games, only about Aston Villa. I cannot do it differently, I have not a big plan but we will have a plan for Aston Villa."

Victories against Villa, Burnley and Chelsea will see Liverpool go the entire league season without dropping a point at Anfield.

Asked about that possibility, Klopp said: "We never thought about it, how long the run is or whatever. We have to respect Aston Villa and respect their situation. We know their situation.

"Aston Villa has a lot of quality, they do well defending in a compact formation. That's what I'm thinking about, not the records we can break. We have to break the formation of Aston Villa, that's what we are concerned about.

"This season is a very special season, special for us in a positive way and special from a challenging point of view, not only that we had a three-month break in the middle of the season, as well we play now in the last three weeks six games.

"That's really demanding for all of us. We have to really dig in in this situation, that's what I like from the game last night as well.

"The attitude was brilliant, we were really fighting, the desire was there. We were in four moments not focused. We have to make sure we don't have moments like this on Sunday."

Jordan Henderson acknowledged Liverpool "expect more from ourselves" after a humbling defeat at Manchester City but suggested the experience would provide an important lesson.

In their first match since being confirmed as Premier League champions, ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight title, Liverpool were thrashed 4-0 by the previous season's winners.

City scored through Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal, capitalising on the Reds' poor defending and early profligacy in clinical fashion.

However, Liverpool captain Henderson hoped such a loss could help his side moving forward.

"We are not making any excuses," he told the club's official website. "We are bitterly disappointed and we expect more from ourselves.

"But it can be a lesson for us going forward if we want to improve and keep contending for trophies and being in the run-in for the title next season and other competitions as well.

"We need to keep going, keep improving and keep learning. This is a learning curve, so we need to react the right way in the next game."

Asked what had gone wrong for Jurgen Klopp's side, Henderson replied: "A lot of things but, to be fair, I thought we kept going right until the very end.

"You've got to give credit to City, a fantastic side, and they finished their chances off. We are bitterly disappointed and, after the game, the lads are very disappointed with the result, as we should be.

"On another night, I'd like to think we can finish our chances and it would change the game, but unfortunately it wasn't to be and you've got to give credit to City."

Before thinking about continuing their battle with City next season, though, Liverpool must face Aston Villa on Sunday.

Henderson added: "It's never nice to lose games. We need to show our character and, again, react in the right way.

"The next game is Sunday, so it comes thick and fast, and we need to be ready and keep going. We still want to finish the season off on a high. We've still got six games left, so we want to go out there and perform."

Lionel Messi's future is often a topic of discussion.

Messi has an early break clause in his Barcelona contract.

As Barca look to re-sign Messi, the 33-year-old superstar is reportedly ready to walk away next year.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS BARCA EXIT

Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of 2020-21, according to Cadena SER.

Barca captain Messi – previously linked to Inter and Manchester City – has reportedly been in talks over a new two-year deal at Camp Nou.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Barca's all-time leading scorer is reportedly tired of being blamed for issues at the club, with the LaLiga champions set to be dethroned by Real Madrid.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Camp Nou and club legend Xavi has agreed to become Barcelona head coach next season. Mundo Deportivo journalist Francesc Aguilar says the Al-Sadd boss has agreed a €6million salary to replace under-fire coach Quique Setien.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United and neighbours City have asked Barca about the availability of out-of-favour forward Antoine Griezmann. A big-money signing from Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, Griezmann has struggled and found himself on the bench in recent weeks. However, the report claims Barca are not considering a transfer.

Liverpool are poised to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, says Sport. Thiago is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and the Spaniard is not willing to re-sign. Now, Liverpool are believed to be in advanced negotiations as Bayern seek £31m (€35m) for Thiago.

- Everton full-back Lucas Digne has emerged as a target for City and Chelsea if they fail to land Leicester City star Ben Chilwell, according to ESPN.

Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham, reports Bild. United were also chasing the 17-year-old sensation.

- After signing Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Inter have opened talks with Chelsea for Italian full-back Emerson Palmieri.

Juventus are hoping to settle Paulo Dybala's new contract between July and August, says Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea are ready to step up their pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz after Saturday's DFB-Pokal final against Bayern. Havertz has been linked to Bayern, Madrid, United, Liverpool and Barca.

- Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could be shipped out on loan to Sevilla, claims The Sun. The world's most expensive keeper has been criticised for his performances this season.

Pep Guardiola warned next Premier League season would be "completely different" as Manchester City bid to reclaim their title.

City were in fine form in a 4-0 thrashing of newly crowned champions Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

A Kevin De Bruyne penalty and goals from Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden, and an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal, saw City – champions in 2017-18 and 2018-19 – to an impressive victory.

While Guardiola played down the impact on next season, the City manager said 2020-21 would be different.

"I'm happy that we won against a team that is the champion of Europe and England," he told a news conference.

"They were incredibly focused to beat us. I saw their faces, the way they shouted, the way they communicated, the way they wanted it, and that's why.

"They didn't come here just to celebrate, they're going to celebrate. I think they drunk enough beers earlier in the week, but they came here to compete against us, without a doubt.

"That's why for us, to prepare for Arsenal [in the FA Cup semi-finals] and Madrid [in the Champions League last 16] will be so important.

"To know that we can do it, but next season will be completely different. Everyone starts at zero and we have to show, to Liverpool and ourselves, that we can do it, what we have done in previous years, winning a lot of titles in a lot of competitions."

City have a short turnaround, facing Southampton on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp said beating Manchester City's Premier League record of 100 points in a season was still a target for Liverpool.

City set the record with 100 points during the 2017-18 season, while the title has already been secured by Liverpool this campaign.

However, Klopp's side were beaten 4-0 by Pep Guardiola's City on Thursday, suffering just their second loss of the league season.

Liverpool can reach a maximum of 104 points this campaign and Klopp said the record was a motivation for his team.

"Look, it is, but we cannot force that. To go there, we have to win football games – and we didn't do that [against City]," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

"So in the first place, we should now make sure we are ready for Aston Villa. The points tally at the end of the season is the result of the results we collect until then.

"I said it to your colleagues, you know these kind of [goalscoring] moments we very often use but [against City] not. Then they have a penalty for the first one, we lose a ball for the second one. Our problems were set-pieces a little bit. The penalty, or the set-piece at least and how it came to that, and two throw-ins, I think it was two throw-ins. That is how City scored.

"With all the quality they have, they scored in these situations – and had a counter-attack. That is how football can be and if you are not perfect, this is not a good place to be. Then you will be punished and that's what happened."

Liverpool's remaining matches this season are against Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley, Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle United.

Jurgen Klopp insisted Liverpool's 4-0 loss to Manchester City had "nothing to do" with being crowned Premier League champions last week.

In their first appearance after winning a first league title since 1990, Liverpool were well beaten at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

A Kevin De Bruyne penalty and goals from Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden, and an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal, saw City to an impressive victory.

Klopp refused to use Liverpool's title success as an excuse, but said City manager Pep Guardiola had an easy way to motivate his side.

"It has nothing to do with last week to be honest. It hurts like defeats hurt," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

"What I wanted to see was a team who is ready to fight against Man City, who have obviously, I'm not sure if it's the right saying, but a point to prove. It was easy motivation for Pep, let me say it like this.

"The decisive moments City used, we didn't, and it doesn't help, so we had probably more chances than we had in games which we won but we didn't use them, or none of them, so City were there.

"Usually we don't give them that many counter-attacks, with two goals they had a throw-in which is a strength for us usually, tonight it wasn't, and that's how it was then and they have this result."

Liverpool are 20 points clear of City after what was just their second defeat of the Premier League season.

Klopp said any suggestions the gap between the teams was actually that big were wrong.

"If anybody thought before this game that the quality gap between Liverpool and Manchester City is 20 or 23 points, I cannot help these people," he said.

"Football is not about that. Football is about winning games and we did that in a pretty impressive manner.

"I saw, I think, pretty much all of City's games and even the games they lost were good, unbelievable. It is the truth, it is not that they didn't perform or whatever."

Liverpool will try to bounce back when they host lowly Aston Villa on Sunday.

Kevin De Bruyne is the best midfielder in world football, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Liverpool's first outing as Premier League champions proved one to forget as Guardiola's dethroned City ran out 4-0 winners at the Etihad Stadium.

De Bruyne slotted home a 25th-minute penalty after Joe Gomez fouled Raheem Sterling, who doubled the advantage against his old employers 10 minutes later.

Phil Foden made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turned Sterling's shot into his own net to complete the scoring.

The latter two goals featured typically precise De Bruyne passes in the build-up and the Belgium midfielder underlined his case for being the Premier League's outstanding player against unquestionably the division's outstanding team this season.

"He is a really good player. A really, really good player. He has something unique," Guardiola told reporters afterwards.

"He can run, the vision he has. The personality he shows right now, scoring four penalties in a row when we struggled this season with them.

"Right now in the midfield position is the best.

"Of course he can get better. How? He knows it."

Foden was again worthy of praise within the supporting cast, with the England Under-21 midfielder's assured finish bringing his fourth goal in three Premier League outings since the resumption.

"What we have done is try to protect him," Guardiola said.

"Don’t let him play every single game. Young players have to be careful in the first steps.

"He has an incredible thing that makes me convinced for the next decade he will be an incredible player.

"There is not one day when he has had a bad face for not playing. In training sessions, every single action is positive. Every one – look forward, don't regret.

"He is a huge competitor, he is a guy who scores incredible goals, so fast, defensively so strong.

"It's a reality that he played at Old Trafford, he played here. Against incredibly top teams he was there, always playing at a high level.

"I don't want to say anything wrong, but Gareth Southgate has an incredible talent for the national team in his hands. I saw many players in my life, training with incredible players and Phil will be one of them."

Foden's fellow academy graduate Eric Garcia returned to action after suffering a concussion in the 3-0 win against Arsenal and recovered well from a shaky start at centre-back, after Mohamed Salah hit the post during a deceptively strong Liverpool start.

"He played against Salah and [Sadio] Mane. He's 19, he had a kick against Arsenal, was training for three or four days after 10 days out and he was awesome," Guardiola added.

"He doesn't make mistakes. He is always focused, he guides the line, he knows what he has to do.

"As a club, we are so proud to have Phil and Eric. We can count on them, without a doubt."

A tetchy Jurgen Klopp insisted newly crowned Premier League champions Liverpool approached Thursday's clash with Manchester City with the right attitude.

Liverpool were playing their first game since City's loss to Chelsea ended their 30-year wait for the top-flight title but were second best throughout in a 4-0 defeat to the team they have deposed as champions.

Kevin De Bruyne's penalty set the tone and Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden made it 3-0 before half-time, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's own goal rounding off a miserable evening after a week to celebrate.

Reds manager Klopp was clearly in an irritated mood during a post-match interview with Sky Sports but was adamant he had no qualms about the desire of his team.

"I saw a brilliant attitude, I saw boys who were fighting with everything we have. [It's not that] we didn't behave like somebody who became champion a week ago, [that] it's not important, so that was awkward," said Klopp, whose side lost for just the second time in the Premier League this season. 

"We lacked fluidity and in some situations, 50-50s, they were just quicker than us in mind, that's true as well, that's what they use. 

"Then the pitch becomes big immediately. The first goal we left Joe [Gomez] it felt like five minutes alone in a challenge with Sterling and there must be a second player. 

"I think before the second goal we lose the ball, the third goal could have been [dealt with better] which makes no sense, but it can happen against City that you can have massive problems. 

"They used their chances, not all but a lot, and we didn't. So, City were 100 per cent deserving today, but a 5-3 or something like that would have been possible as well. It doesn't make the things better, but now it's 4-0, we have to take that and that's it."

With Liverpool's focus perhaps not as high as it normally would be against City, Klopp was pressed on if perspective must be given to the result.

The usually amiable German again defended his team, though, and said the result was more down to City's own vast quality.

"If you wanna lead this story in the direction that we were not focused on that game then do it, that's the second time I spoke about attitude, I like my team how they set up, I said that and I thought it's clear," he added. 

"If you go again with that, I think we proved that point and we proved as well that City is an unbelievable team. 

"Isn't it nice in this league that another team can be champion even when City is around and can play this kind of football, isn't that a surprise as well?

"City is outstanding, I said that, I have to give them credit. By the way I do that always because they are incredible.

"I saw City's season and I didn't see a bad game, honestly even when they lost they still played really good football."

Raheem Sterling says Manchester City laid down a marker for next season with their thumping 4-0 win over newly crowned Premier League champions Liverpool on Thursday.

Pep Guardiola's side made light work of the lacklustre Reds, who were playing for the first time since their first top-flight title in 30 years was confirmed last week.

Kevin De Bruyne got them on their way from the penalty spot after Sterling had been hauled down by Joe Gomez, before the England international, Phil Foden and an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal sealed the resounding victory.

"They [Liverpool] have been brilliant all year," Sterling told Sky Sports. "We knew we had to come out strong because we wanted to have a good game against them.

"We had a test against the current champions and wanted to make a point. We did brilliantly. Next season started today, and we did well."

Foden was once again instrumental to everything positive about City's display, with Sterling impressed by the 20-year-old's maturity.

"This is a team that is evolving and changing," he added. "You can see the maturity Phil is playing with.

"He's 20 and playing like he's been in the first team for years. It's a credit to him. Every opportunity he gets, he does brilliantly."

If it was a night that carried the now familiar whiff of fireworks for Liverpool, it was one that reeked of total humiliation for Manchester City.

Even after dazzling showings from their goalscorers Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden in an irresistible 4-0 win, the gap is 20 points. The analysis of where a Premier League title defence helmed by the most celebrated coach of a generation went so far awry should be unsparing.

But, as Pep Guardiola has pointed out frequently since the Premier League title was ceded to Merseyside, City still have plenty to play for this season. The EFL Cup can still be joined in the trophy cabinet by the FA Cup and the Champions League.

They started tentatively – their trademark passing from the back dangerously pedestrian against the most ravenous press in world football, even allowing for the prospect of a week's liquid refreshment drawing some of its bite.

Ederson made a double save from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino before the former skipped inside Eric Garcia to hit the post.

At that point, Guardiola's mind might have flashed back to a match that was both stinging for him as a proud Catalan and hugely significant in his own career.

After Barcelona surrendered LaLiga to Real Madrid in 2007-08, Frank Rijkaard's side performed a guard of honour for their bitter rivals – albeit at a braying Santiago Bernabeu as opposed to a deserted Etihad Stadium – and were soundly beaten 4-1.

It was an abject embarrassment that rubber-stamped the end of Rijkaard's tenure and Guardiola's elevation from the B team.

His rise has continued more or less unchecked ever since, except for encounters with Jurgen Klopp teams.

A win here does little to remove the stains of an inadequate title defence, but another league loss to follow the error-strewn reverse at Chelsea that gift-wrapped the trophy Liverpool craved beyond all others could have done significant damage.

A creaky defence, all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero crocked, Leroy Sane in Munich never to return. As Salah led blue shirts a merry dance during the opening exchanges, it was easy to see more Mancunian misery unfolding.

But De Bruyne was having absolutely none of that. The Premier League's outstanding player was about to take apart the Premier League's outstanding team.

Even as his team-mates struggled to find their footing early on, two glorious passes released Gabriel Jesus, only for the Brazil forward to mistime his runs.

Guardiola's heart will have been in his mouth when his midfield talisman trod on the ball and landed in a twisted heap for a rare unsuccessful assault on the Liverpool backline.

Hopes of FA Cup and Champions League glory can be launched into the sky with whatever assortment of corner shop explosives you like if City don't have De Bruyne fully fit.

It feels like a trick of the mind that the Belgium playmaker was confined to the margins by two medial knee ligament injuries last term, as City edged Liverpool in that titanic title tussle. He is the heart and soul of a team that has shown too little of those qualities as a collective at times in 2019-20.

The supporting cast sparkled here, though, with Sterling enjoying an overdue night of revelry against his former employers.

According to most versions of events, Joe Gomez handled a rampaging Sterling far more effectively in the St George's Park canteen last November than he did here.

The Liverpool centre-back grappled to foul his international team-mate and De Bruyne slotted the opener from the penalty spot. Gomez could not stop Sterling doubling the advantage and was substituted at half-time.

By that point, De Bruyne had pinged a one-two into the path of Foden for an ebullient finish. There was no let-up early in the second period – Jesus drove at the Liverpool defence and shot too close to Alisson, Sterling saw an effort deflected wide after a run of his own and Virgil van Dijk intervened in the goalmouth to deny Foden.

There was undoubted catharsis in all of this for City, as De Bruyne worked through his full repertoire. Another pass of geometric precision had the insatiable Sterling looking for number four, which arrived as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his fine scoring run in this fixture in the wrong net.

A headed attempt by De Bruyne to make it five was more Ballon p'Or than Ballon d'Or, but his unrelenting brilliance was the source of relief and pride for City and Guardiola. In the wider context this result can mean little more.

Nevertheless, they have a base camp for the next instalment of a domestic rivalry that has enthralled for three years. "Next season starts today," a defiant Sterling told Sky Sports afterwards.

In Europe, they could be punting for the big prize next month with a two-season ban confirmed. De Bruyne operating in that last chance saloon is a terrifying prospect for anyone.

Liverpool's first game since being confirmed as Premier League champions did not go to plan as deposed title-holders Manchester City romped to a 4-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

The Reds' first top-flight title in 30 years was confirmed when City lost to Chelsea last week and the celebrations of their long-awaited success perhaps caught up with Jurgen Klopp's side, who were ruthlessly dismantled by the rampant hosts. 

A Kevin De Bruyne penalty and clinical finishes from Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden put the game to bed before half-time, while an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal in the second half added to the ignominy.

Liverpool remain a whopping 20 points ahead of City, who are 11 clear of third-place Leicester City.

The visitors had started brightly, Mohamed Salah crashing a low effort against the post inside the opening 20 minutes.

City soon hit the front, though, De Bruyne stroking home a 25th-minute penalty after Sterling was hauled down by Joe Gomez following a sumptuous turn.

Sterling made it 2-0 when he collected Foden's pass inside the area and cleverly clipped past Alisson from eight yards.

Foden added a sublime third shortly before the break, firing over Alisson after the brilliant De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan had combined to carve open Liverpool's defence.

Substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain then turned into his own net in the 66th minute as he stretched to clear Sterling's effort on goal.

City substitute Riyad Mahrez had a stoppage-time goal ruled out by VAR after a handball by Foden in the build-up, but it mattered little as the damage had been well and truly inflicted on Klopp's men by then.

 

What does it mean? Wounded City humble new champions

Given the scoreline, you would be forgiven for thinking Klopp had decided to field a team of youngsters following their confirmation as Premier League champions. As it was, this was the Reds' strongest XI. They were no match for a City side clearly hurt by losing their title last week, though.

Pep Guardiola will have seen this as an opportunity to lay down a marker for next season and his side did not let him down. Roll on the 2020-21 campaign.

Sterling finally makes his mark against Reds

The England international had to wait until his ninth appearance against his former club to net against them and he certainly enjoyed the moment. He was superb throughout, linking up with De Bruyne and Foden to devastating effect.

Gomez endures game to forget       

Gomez and Sterling had a spat while on England duty last year and the Liverpool defender had a torrid time against his international colleague here.

The City man forced Gomez into a foul for De Bruyne's penalty and generally ran him ragged throughout.

What's next?

Guardiola's men travel to Southampton on Sunday, while the Reds host relegation-threatened Aston Villa at Anfield on the same day.

Eric Garcia is back in the Manchester City starting line-up for the visit of newly crowned Premier League champions Liverpool.

Teenage centre-back Garcia is making his first appearance since suffering concussion in a collision with goalkeeper Ederson during City's 3-0 win over Arsenal two weeks ago.

Pep Guardiola's men have since ceded their title to Liverpool, who are at full strength for the behind-closed doors encounter at the Etihad Stadium as they look to burnish a glorious campaign with further entries into the record books.

Garcia and central defensive partner Aymeric Laporte will have to contend with the Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah forward line.

In Sergio Aguero's ongoing injury absence, Phil Foden and ex-Red Raheem Sterling line-up alongside Gabriel Jesus in the hosts' attack.

Liverpool are 23 points better off than City at kick-off, but have won only one of their previous 10 Premier League outings at the Etihad.

Manchester City will close the gap on Liverpool in the Premier League next season if they address the centre-back position, according to Jamie Carragher.

Champions Liverpool face City at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday in their first match since winning a first English title in 30 years.

Carragher, a Champions League winner with the Reds, thinks City boss Pep Guardiola always has something up his sleeve for matches between the teams.

And he believes the contest will be the prelude to a closer title battle in the 2020-21 campaign, with Liverpool sitting 23 points ahead of the side they dethroned this time around.

"It's whether Guardiola comes up with something a little bit different for Liverpool's front three," Carragher said to Sky Sports ahead of the match.

"He could go with three at the back, or with a more defensive full-back, as he did in this fixture last year when he put [Aymeric] Laporte at left-back.

"He always seems to have something a little bit different up his sleeve against Liverpool, so I wouldn't be surprised if he did something like that.

"Can Liverpool control Kevin De Bruyne? And can City's back four cope with Liverpool's front three? I think those are the big questions, really.

"De Bruyne is, for me, the best player in the Premier League. If Liverpool can stop that man in midfield, that will stop a lot of City.

"No doubt Liverpool will have to deal with De Bruyne, because if they don't it will make it really difficult for them.

"City will want to put a marker down and win the game. At their best, they're almost unstoppable, but one of the few teams that can stop them are Liverpool, so it will be brilliant to watch." 

Discussing next season, Carragher added: "There's 23 points between the teams but I don't see the gap as being that big.

"There's no doubt that Liverpool have the edge, but I certainly don't think there will be that much next season – I don't think there's too much between the teams. 

"City are too good a team and Guardiola is too good a manager to have a gap like that between one of his teams and someone else's.

"I think a lot of it will [come down to] who City recruit. There's no doubt that City will do a lot more in the market than Liverpool will. 

"If City recruit well, it will bridge that gap that we've seen this season and then it becomes about how Liverpool deal with that.

"The big problem is how many goals City have conceded compared to Liverpool. That's the big difference. The centre-backs issue was a problem for City all season. 

"They need to rectify having lost [Vincent] Kompany. If they add in that position, they could certainly bridge the gap and make it really tight next year."

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was more deserving of the Best FIFA Men's Player award in 2019 than Barcelona star Lionel Messi, according to France great Alain Giresse.

After guiding Barca to LaLiga glory and the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, Messi won the accolade for a sixth time back in September – he was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 and claimed four Ballons d'Or while it was backed by world football's governing body.

Mane finished fifth in the voting, behind Liverpool team-mates Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Giresse, who coached Mane during his time in charge of Senegal between 2013 and 2015, insists the 28-year-old should have finished top after starring for Liverpool on their way to Champions League success.

"I definitely would have put Sadio Mane ahead of Messi, in terms of the season they had last season," he told ESPN.

"When I was head coach of Senegal, Sadio was still young but he had ahead of him an enormous potential, a technical potential, and a moral potential to go on to become a great player, as he has become today."

Giresse, named French Player of the Year three times in the 1980s, was Tunisia head coach until August and should have been eligible to vote.

"I didn't receive the ballot sheet, so it wasn't me who voted [on Tunisia's behalf]. I can't say who did, but it wasn't me," he said. The top pick credited to Giresse was Ronaldo, with Van Dijk second and Messi third.

Former Bordeaux and Marseille midfielder Giresse also managed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at international level with Gabon. 

Aubameyang shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mane and Salah last season and Giresse believes the Arsenal striker is now among the world's best.

"I launched Pierre-Emerick with the Gabon national team, at the start of his development, his expansion and his progression," he said.

"We can all see his pathway and the level he's reached now. We're talking about [him moving to] Real Madrid, so it shows how this player has reached a world-class level, and you could say the same about Sadio."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.