Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp thinks Bayern Munich and Manchester City are the clear favourites to win this season's Champions League.

Both teams are in strong positions to progress to the quarter-finals, City having beaten Real Madrid 2-1 while Bayern eased to a 3-0 victory away to Chelsea in the last-16 first legs.

This season's competition is set to resume in August in a mini-tournament format in Lisbon, having been put on hold since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool's defence of the trophy was ended in a 4-2 aggregate defeat to Atletico Madrid, and Klopp expects one of City or Bayern to triumph.

"For me, the two big favourites are Bayern and Man City," he said ahead of Liverpool's Premier League meeting with Aston Villa. "That would be an interesting game.

"Bayern played obviously a very impressive season in Germany. After Hansi Flick took over, it was really impressive what they did. These are the two favourites. I don't know exactly how it could happen - we'll see in the semi-final or whatever.

"The competition will be really interesting because it's completely new. When you see Man City, when you see the squad... everybody needs luck: if you want to win the Champions League, you should have your best line-up ready for the final if that's possible.

"It's not that the other teams have no chance, but I really think these two are the favourites. Massive, massive chance. But, even in the game [Liverpool's 4-0 loss to City on Thursday], which City won deservedly, we should have scored three goals.

"We should have and we would have on a normal day. They have so much quality, but no team in the world is perfect. City are not, Bayern are not, we are not. But you need to be nearly perfect in these moments to win the Champions League, obviously.

"I will watch it, the little tournament, it will be really interesting, but unfortunately, we have nothing really to do with it this year."

Pep Guardiola believes Gabriel Jesus should be valued in his own right at Manchester City and not compared unfavourably to the club's record goalscorer Sergio Aguero.

A knee injury to Aguero has afforded Jesus his latest chance for an extended run as first-choice striker at City, although the opportunity has arrived with the Brazil international enduring a barren run in front of goal.

Since scoring a vital winner at Leicester City and heading in the equaliser in City's 2-1 Champions League win at Real Madrid in February, the 23-year-old has gone eight matches without adding to his season tally of 18.

As his attacking colleagues dazzled in Thursday's 4-0 win over Premier League champions Liverpool, Jesus endured another evening of personal frustration and missed the opportunity for a statement performance with the 32-year-old Aguero into the final year of his contract.

Ahead of Sunday's trip to face Southampton at St Mary's – where Jesus enjoyed one of the highlights of his City career two years ago, scoring decisively in stoppage time to seal a 100-point season in 2017-18 – Guardiola offered his backing, citing the forward's "unique" selfless qualities.

"No one can compare to Sergio, what he has done in his career – first because he is older than Gabriel," he said.

"It is perfect for us because they are complimentary. What one guy has the other one maybe struggles with.

"Gabriel has something that is unique in the world. He helps us to be more aggressive. He is a fighter.

"I remember how many goals we have scored the last three or four or five games thanks to him.

"Gabriel is something special for us. It is unfair to compare players. Every player is different. We have to adapt his qualities for the benefit of him and the team."

By contrast, there are no notable questions over the talents of midfield talisman Kevin De Bruyne at present.

The playmaker turned in another swashbuckling showing to down Liverpool, opening the scoring with his fourth consecutive penalty conversion before having a hand in all of the other goals.

De Bruyne wore the captain's armband last time out and, a year on from long-time skipper Vincent Kompany leaving City and with club captain David Silva heading for the exit door, Guardiola praised the 29-year-old's growing leadership qualities.

"Yes [he is a leader], for the role he takes in the locker room and takes responsibility on the pitch," the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss added.

"When he is captain, he wants to be captain. He wants to help, he wants to play a part and put the club and the team in front of himself.

"For sure [I see increased maturity]. Myself, I am not the same person I was when I was 25. I changed in many things. Kevin, for sure."

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.

Raheem Sterling is hoping Manchester City can reach two finals to finish the season.

With Liverpool having sealed the Premier League title, City's chances of adding to their Community Shield and EFL Cup successes this season are in the Champions League and FA Cup.

Pep Guardiola's side will face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals, while they will carry a 2-1 lead into their Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid.

Sterling, who scored in City's 4-0 thrashing of Liverpool on Thursday, is eyeing two finals to finish the campaign.

"Hopefully, we can finish with an FA Cup final and a Champions League final," the star attacker said, via the club's website.

"We are a team that missed out on the Premier League and we have got to go on and try to do our best as we can in all competitions and that is the FA Cup and the Champions League.

"It is difficult seeing Liverpool take the title from us, but they have been brilliant all year.

"On Thursday, it was just another game, but it was a chance to finish high. In the Premier League we need to win all our games and finish on a high in the FA Cup and the Champions League."

City are away to Southampton in the Premier League 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."

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of winger Leroy Sane from Manchester City.

Sane, 24, has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who confirmed the transfer on Friday.

The Germany international will initially cost Bayern €49million (£44.5m), rising to €60m (£54.5m), Stats Perform News understands.

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "We're very happy to welcome Leroy Sane to FC Bayern. He is an outstanding player who has proven his qualities over the past few years, especially in the national team.

"Our goal is to gather the best German players at FC Bayern and the signing of Leroy emphasises this goal. I would like to congratulate Hasan Salihamidzic on successfully concluding the transfer."

New Bayern Munich winger Leroy Sane has made winning the Champions League his "top priority" in Bavaria.

Sane's long-awaited move from Manchester City to Bayern in his native Germany was confirmed on Friday.

The 24-year-old has signed a five-year contract following a transfer for which, Stats Perform News understands, Bayern have paid an initial €49million (£44.5m), potentially rising to €60m (£54.5m).

Sane was a Bayern target last year before injury ruled him out for much of the 2019-20 campaign, but he is delighted to have finalised the deal, quickly revealing some lofty ambitions.

"FC Bayern is a great club with big goals and these goals suit me as well," Sane said. "I'm looking forward to the new challenge and can't wait to train with the team.

"I know Hansi Flick from the under-21 national team, we had a very good relationship there.

"I want to win as many trophies as possible with FC Bayern, and the Champions League is the top priority."

Sane will not be available for Bayern in this season's Champions League, however, with the Bundesliga champions considered among the favourites ahead of August's eight-team finals.

Meanwhile, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic thanked City for "trusting and constructive negotiations", and the Premier League club wished Sane well.

Manager Pep Guardiola, formerly of Bayern, said: "We wish Leroy all the best in this new chapter of his career.

"Leroy has been part of one of the most special periods in this club's history and he leaves with the best wishes of everyone here at Manchester City."

City director of football Txiki Begiristain added: "From arriving as a fledgling young talent four years ago, we are proud of the contribution Leroy has made since joining Manchester City.

"He leaves with many friends and fond memories of his time at the Etihad."

Sane scored 39 goals in 135 appearances for City in all competitions, helping Guardiola's side to win the Premier League and EFL Cup in 2017-18 followed by a domestic treble the following season.

He addressed the City fans on his Twitter page, writing: "Thanks so much for the great time and all the support over the past four years.

"It has been a really intense and successful time which I surely won't forget."

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of winger Leroy Sane from Manchester City.

Sane, 24, has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who confirmed the transfer on Friday.

The Germany international will initially cost Bayern €49million (£44.5m), rising to €60m (£54.5m), Stats Perform News understands.

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "We're very happy to welcome Leroy Sane to FC Bayern. He is an outstanding player who has proven his qualities over the past few years, especially in the national team.

"Our goal is to gather the best German players at FC Bayern and the signing of Leroy emphasises this goal. I would like to congratulate Hasan Salihamidzic on successfully concluding the transfer."

Speaking ahead of the move on Wednesday, Pep Guardiola wished the player all the best at the City boss' "fantastic" former club Bayern.

Sane joining Bayern is a switch that has been mooted since last year, however the German side were said to be unwilling to match City's previous asking price.

He then suffered a serious knee injury in the Community Shield last August and only returned to the pitch last month.

Sane joined City from Schalke in 2016 in a deal reportedly worth an initial £37m (€40m) and went on to show flashes of immense ability during his first campaign.

He elevated his game to the next level in 2017-18 and won the Professional Footballers' Association's (PFA) Young Player of the Year award as Guardiola's side clinched the Premier League title.

Sane helped City to another top-flight crown the following year and scored 16 goals across all competitions, though links with Bayern became commonplace towards the end of 2018-19.

Much of Sane's time on the sidelines through injury coincided with strengthening reports of him desiring a move to Bayern, and on June 19 Guardiola confirmed the club had been informed he would not be signing a contract extension.

As such, Guardiola accepted Sane was either to be sold this year or leave on a free transfer in June 2021.

City have at least avoided the latter scenario, though the fee of up to €60m is significantly less than the £137m (€150m) asking price they are alleged to have set in 2019.

For Bayern, the addition of Sane comes two days after they signed highly rated defender Tanguy Kouassi from Paris Saint-Germain, his contract with the French champions having expired.

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.

The Leroy Sane saga

July 02, 2020

The Manchester City winger has certainly been in the headlines over the past 12 months.

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."

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