Virgil van Dijk is the key reason Liverpool have surpassed Manchester City in the Premier League pecking order, according to Ruud Gullit.

Netherlands international Van Dijk has been an inspiration for the Reds since joining them from Southampton for a reported £75million in January 2018.

He helped Liverpool to Champions League success last season and the club now lead champions City by 25 points in an extraordinary top-flight campaign, with the defender an ever-present in their 26 matches.

His compatriot Gullit, speaking ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards, believes the crucial aspect has been Van Dijk's play, coupled with City's struggles to find a reliable defensive option.

"In order to win, all the best teams have a good defence," Gullit said to Omnisport. 

"At Barcelona, with Carles Puyol at the back, they had a good defence. 

"If you don't have that then you can attack all you like but you're always conceding a lot of goals. 

"Pep Guardiola bought four central defenders and they couldn't do it. That was unlucky also with injuries but it is a stable factor to have defenders that can do the things that you need to do.

"A lot of teams don't defend well. So, with Van Dijk, that was an issue that was done [solved]."

He added: "Van Dijk was an example that I was right in Holland. If I say you have to learn how to defend people say, 'You're always with the defending' and things like that.

"But that's where it all started. Now they say you're right, [you can have success] if you have a good defender, and the good thing is it was a Dutch defender." 

Liverpool are away to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie after their 1-0 away win at Norwich City last time out.

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg, a survivor of the 1958 Munich air disaster, has died at the age of 87.

Gregg, who had only been at United for two months at the time of the crash, became known as the "Hero of Munich" after returning to the burning wreckage to rescue Vera Lukic, the pregnant wife of a Yugoslav diplomat, and her young daughter.

He went back to pull out team-mates Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet, while assisting manager Matt Busby and fellow Northern Ireland international Jackie Blanchflower.

His death was announced by the Harry Gregg Foundation on Facebook.

"It is with great sorrow that we inform of the death of Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend Harry Gregg, OBE," a statement read.

"Harry passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by his loving family."

United posted on Twitter to say: "It is with deepest sadness that we have learned of the passing of former player Harry Gregg OBE. 

"The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the club go out to Harry’s family and friends."

The disaster occurred when a plane carrying Gregg and his United team-mates – known as "the Busby Babes" – crashed in heavy snow after several aborted take-offs.

In total, 23 people died including eight United players and seven of the club's backroom staff. Eight newspaper journalists were also among the victims.

United signed Gregg from Doncaster Rovers for a then world-record fee for a goalkeeper in December 1957 and he made 247 appearances for the club.

Gregg also represented Northern Ireland at the 1958 World Cup, where he was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament.

Pep Guardiola's future at Manchester City continues to dominate discussions – and it seemingly still remains unclear.

Talk around the Spaniard has intensified after City were handed a two-season Champions League ban by UEFA for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play rules, although they deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal.

But will Guardiola, who is contracted at the Etihad Stadium until 2021, stay or go?

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO STAY AT MAN CITY DESPITE BAN

Guardiola will remain at City next season whether they have their ban overturned or not, according to the Mirror.

However, Tuttosport reports the chances of the former Barcelona head coach leaving City are "70 per cent".

Guardiola has reportedly suggested previously he intends to honour his contract at City.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea are making their move for Jadon Sancho. France Football reports the Premier League club have started talks with the Borussia Dortmund star, who has attracted interest from numerous European giants, including Manchester United.

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are set to pay £23million (€27.7m) for Inter midfielder Matias Vecino at the end of the season, according to the Daily Express.

- After strong links during the close season, Bayern Munich's interest in Manchester City attacker Leroy Sane has cooled, according to Kicker. Sane tore his anterior cruciate ligament in August.

- Staying at Bayern and Kicker reports the Bundesliga giants are keeping tabs on Liverpool's interest in RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner. Werner has been linked with the European giants after scoring 20 goals in 22 Bundesliga games this season.

- Alexander Isak's form for Real Sociedad this season is leading to interest, but Mundo Deportivo reports clubs wanting the forward at the end of the campaign must pay €70m. Former club Borussia Dortmund reportedly have an option to buy Isak for €30m, but that only comes into play in 2021.

- Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu has impressed this season and the 20-year-old is on Atletico Madrid's radar, according to Marca.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned that Paul Pogba belongs to Manchester United and not outspoken agent Mino Raiola amid ongoing doubts over the star's future at Old Trafford.

Raiola cast fresh doubts over Pogba – who is recovering from an ankle injury – on Thursday when he said the United midfielder "would not mind" returning to Juventus as "Italy is like home".

Pogba left United for Juve in 2012 but the 26-year-old was prised back to Old Trafford in 2016 for a then-world record transfer fee of €105million (£89.3m).

LaLiga giants Real Madrid have also been linked to Pogba but United manager Solskjaer said: "I've not spoken to Mino that is for sure. And, no, I haven't sat down and told Paul to tell Mino what he should say. Paul is our player and not Mino's."

Asked if he could conclusively say Pogba will play for United again this season, Solskjaer replied: "Well of course, I'd like to say that. As soon as he gets fit he'll be good enough to play for the team and I'm sure Paul's desperate to play for us again."

It has been an injury-ravaged season for Pogba, who has started just five Premier League matches this term and made only seven appearances in total.

Pogba – who did not travel to Spain with his team-mates during the break – has only managed eight games across all competitions for United, who languish eighth in the Premier League after 25 rounds.

Pressed on whether it has been a "disastrous" season for Pogba, Solskjaer – speaking ahead of Monday's trip to Chelsea – told reporters: "You're not going to get that headline from me.

"As a player, the last thing you want to be is injured, and not being able to contribute to your team. Paul's a footballer and he wants to play football. He knows he has to work hard now to get back to his best.

"He's been out for so long now, it's a challenge for him as well to get back into shape. I've been injured for a long, long time myself, it's a difficult period of your career, but it's part and parcel of being a player.

"He's taken off his cast, so when he comes back here we'll integrate him with us. Hopefully soon. He's started running on the treadmill now, so he's getting closer. It's been a long haul, this, so hopefully we'll see him back soon."

Manchester United can attract the world's best players with or without Champions League football, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United are set to spend heavily at the end of the season as the Red Devils continue to struggle in the Premier League – ninth and 41 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Leicester City's James Maddison and Aston Villa star Jack Grealish are among players being linked to United, who are six points outside the top four.

While acknowledging Champions League qualification makes it easier to sign stars, under-fire boss Solskjaer insisted United still have pulling power.

"The Champions League gives the club more resources, more money, that's one thing," said Solskjaer ahead of Monday's blockbuster trip to Chelsea.

"It's a prestigious tournament to be in, of course.

"But doing as well as we can, and if we play well the rest of the season, and players that we might want are impressed by that, it might be easier to convince them to come here.

"But I don't think one season – this season is the Europa League – if next season is with or without the Champions League, I wouldn't say that's the be-all and end-all for a player to sign for us."

It has been another tough campaign for United, who have only won nine of their 25 Premier League games so far.

United are winless in three games, having only managed one victory from their past five outings in the league.

Prior to the break, United were held to a goalless draw by Wolves as January signing Bruno Fernandes made his highly anticipated debut at Old Trafford.

Raheem Sterling is focused on Manchester City, according to his agent, amid reports linking him with a move to Real Madrid.

Speculation over the futures of several City players has intensified in the wake of the two-season Champions League ban handed to the club by UEFA for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations, although they deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal.

Sterling, who is contracted at City until 2023, is reportedly a target for LaLiga giants Madrid.

But the 25-year-old forward's agent, Aidy Ward, said Sterling's focus was on the Premier League club.

"Raheem is solely focused on Manchester City and will not be distracted by any talk of transfers to any club at the moment," he told the Mirror and the Daily Mail.

Sterling, who arrived at City from Liverpool in 2015, has scored 20 goals in 35 games in all competitions this season but is sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Mikel Arteta insisted he is "not conflicted at all" by Manchester City's looming UEFA ban after Arsenal thrashed Newcastle United to move within sight of the European places in the Premier League.

Former City assistant coach Arteta oversaw a 4-0 defeat of Newcastle on Sunday, but the news Pep Guardiola's side are facing a two-year suspension from European competition dominated the weekend.

While City have announced an intention to appeal the ban, there is the possibility fifth could now secure Champions League qualification, with the Europa League potentially in reach for a team in eighth depending on who wins the domestic cups.

Arsenal are 10th, lifted by second-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, but Arteta was not looking to revel in his former employers' gloom.

"We don't know anything about it," he told Sky Sports. "We will have to wait and see.

"It's very difficult. I'm not conflicted at all. I want the best for Manchester City, the best for Pep, for the players.

"I love a lot of people there and I am so grateful for the time I spent there. The only thing I want for them is positive and good things.

"I just want to do the best we can for Arsenal, to achieve ourselves what we deserve."

Arsenal were poor before half-time against Newcastle, making a slow start and surviving the occasional scare, and Arteta is not getting carried away.

"We want to go game by game because, 10 days ago, I was disappointed by the game at Burnley," he said. "A lot of things are going to happen.

"It's up to us and how consistent we can be from now until the end of the season. If we want to have a chance [of qualifying for Europe] in the last few games, we have to put wins together."

Asked what Arteta told his team after the tough first half, captain Aubameyang said: "'Just keep going'. We started not at our best.

"But in the second half, we put in some more energy and we went through and scored the first, the second, the third."

On the coach's overall impact at Emirates Stadium since his December appointment, the striker added: "We feel better. We have an idea of playing that's very clear.

"We'll try to maintain this level. We are happy to keep going like this."

Alexandre Lacazette scored for the first time since December to put the gloss on a much-needed 4-0 win for Arsenal and head coach Mikel Arteta against Newcastle United on Sunday.

Arsenal came into the clash at Emirates Stadium level on points with visitors Newcastle, having won just six times in the Premier League this season - and only once since Arteta's December appointment.

But after a frustrating opening period, the influential Nicolas Pepe laid on a goal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 54th minute, and Pepe himself scored three minutes later to all but settle the contest.

Mesut Ozil added another in the 90th minute, before substitute Lacazette, who last netted against Standard Liege on December 12, got in on the act in stoppage time.

Arteta, who revealed before the match he turned down an approach from Newcastle while still an assistant at Manchester City, could enjoy the closing stages of a precious victory, with Arsenal climbing back up to 10th and within sight of the European places.

Newcastle's set-pieces had caused early problems for Arsenal, and Sean Longstaff's deflected strike forced a scrambling save from Bernd Leno, before Joelinton awkwardly stabbed wide from six yards moments later.

Martin Dubravka was not troubled for over half an hour, but Arsenal pressure built heading into half-time as the Newcastle goalkeeper made stops from Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah and Pepe.

The hosts were on the front foot again following the restart, and Pepe danced to the byline before cutting a cross back for Nketiah, who volleyed against the crossbar.

The opener soon followed, with Aubameyang towering over Valentino Lazaro to head Pepe's right-wing delivery across Dubravka into the bottom-right corner.

And the second came less than three minutes after the first, as Bukayo Saka nutmegged Lazaro on the left and squared for Pepe to sweep low inside the near post.

Ciaran Clark skewed wide from a great position in the area when teed up by Allan Saint-Maximin, who himself hit the post with a fine curling effort, but there was no dramatic Newcastle recovery.

Ozil's close-range finish deceived Dubravka for a scruffy third Arsenal goal, before Lacazette's own slightly untidy effort found the top-right corner to spark a joyous celebration.


What does it mean? Arsenal still finding their feet

There was some hope Arteta might have shaped a much-improved Arsenal over the recent mid-season break, but that did not appear to be the case in the first half. The Gunners struggled to break Newcastle down, before their quality came to the fore in a frantic spell. There would appear to be plenty still to do to restore Arsenal to their former glories despite this big win.

Purposeful Pepe

This has not been a wholly successful first season in England for Pepe, but there are signs he is rediscovering the form that convinced Arsenal to splash out a club-record fee last year. The winger was Arsenal's best player in a testing first half and then turned the game on its head with an assist and a goal within 12 minutes of the restart.

Lazaro loses out

Newcastle's new wing-back, making his full Premier League debut, enjoyed a promising first half, getting forward to good effect down the right while standing up to Saka going the other way. But he was later twice beaten for the crucial goals, first unable to challenge Aubameyang in the air and then embarrassed by Saka's trickery.

What's next?

Arsenal have a trip to Olympiacos in the Europa League on Thursday before their next league assignment at home to Everton. Newcastle have a clear midweek but are then back in the capital next Saturday to visit Crystal Palace.

Jose Mourinho jokingly questioned whether Manchester City's two-season European ban for breaching UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations could end up giving him another Premier League title.

UEFA announced the sanction for City, as well as a €30million fine, on Friday for "overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016".

The reigning Premier League champions criticised the process and announced their intention to appeal the suspension at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

It has since been reported that City could be stripped of their 2014 Premier League title but Mourinho opted against making an extensive evaluation of UEFA's decision after Tottenham's 3-2 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.

However, he quipped he would be more interested if a chance arose for the Manchester United side he led to second in 2017-18 to be retrospectively awarded the crown claimed that season by City.

Pep Guardiola's team finished that campaign with a record 100 points, 19 more than United amassed in second.

Mourinho said: "My view is that I didn't lose one single minute analysing what UEFA and FIFA have to analyse.

"If I go into that analysis I have to ask if the team that finished second in 2018 is going to be champion, yes or no? That would be interesting. But jokes apart, I just wait calmly."

Should the sanction on City remain in place it would mean the team that finishes fifth in the Premier League this season would earn Champions League qualification.

Spurs assumed that position thanks to Son's 94th-minute winner at Villa Park, but Mourinho acknowledged there is plenty of competition.

"I don't think about fourth or fifth, I just think about doing the best we can, getting the most points we can, the best position we can and at the end of the season we will see where we are," he said.

"Because maybe we are sixth or seventh and then it doesn't matter if the fifth goes to the Champions League, so we have a big fight.

"You could see [on Saturday] Liverpool first against the last [Norwich City], you could see today Villa fighting to stay in the division and us fighting for the top positions, how difficult it was.

"This is the Premier League. So when we speak about the fifth, I think Wolves, Sheffield United, Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton, everybody looks to the table and they say 'we can do it' and they can, so it's going to be very hard."

Jose Mourinho joked Toby Alderweireld "scored three goals" as Tottenham left it late to earn a 3-2 win in a cracker at Aston Villa.

Alderweireld put past his own goalkeeper before lashing home an equaliser at Villa Park, and he was also outjumped when Bjorn Engels later restored parity for the hosts.

But Engels himself made an injury-time error that Son Heung-min, who earlier had made it 2-1 when scoring the rebound from his saved spot-kick - awarded for an Engels foul on Steven Bergwijn, capitalised on to win it for Spurs.

"In a funny way I would say Toby scored three goals," a smiling Mourinho said of the Belgium defender, whose wife gave birth to their son Jace this week. 

"First in our goal, the second a fantastic goal he scored, and the third he loses the duel with Engels. 

"But he scored with a shot of his life which was to be a dad again two days ago. It's something to remember."

Pepe Reina was busy in the home goal but Villa will count themselves unlucky to lose after putting in a valiant effort, a fact Mourinho himself acknowledged.

"I think we deserved to win but I don't think they deserved to lose. I think they were good, they gave us a real football match, a real fight," added Mourinho. 

"They played to win, I don't think they played to get a point - probably in the last 10-15 minutes yes -but during the game their attitude was to win the game. It's fantastic, that's why the game was so good."

Spurs' late winner means they are just a point adrift of fourth-place Chelsea, who face Manchester United on Monday.

The table may look favourable from a Spurs point of view but Mourinho believes a few sides will be fancying their chances.

"Not just for us. A window opens for many teams, probably teams that saw fourth as too far. What seemed far, now the fifth place is not far," he said, referring to the fact fifth would be enough for a Champions League place given Manchester City's two-season European ban administered by UEFA, which the club said they intend to appeal against.

"Arsenal, Everton, Sheffield United, Wolves...everyone will feel they have the chance."

Son Heung-min pounced on Bjorn Engels' error to score a last-gasp winner as Tottenham won an enthralling Premier League contest 3-2 at Aston Villa.

Engels' equaliser appeared to have earned the relegation-threatened hosts a point at Villa Park, but his failure to control a long ball allowed Son to coolly steer past Pepe Reina.

Son had earlier put Spurs 2-1 in front from the rebound of a penalty awarded as a result of an Engels foul shortly before half-time, the forward's first in the game coming after team-mate Toby Alderweireld had scored at both ends.

Villa remain just a point above the bottom three, while Champions League-chasing Spurs are just one point adrift of fourth-place Chelsea.

Eddie Nketiah was selected for a first Premier League start in Arsenal's game against Newcastle United on Saturday.

The 20-year-old was expected to go back out on loan after being recalled from Championship side Leeds United due to a lack of game time in January, but Mikel Arteta opted to retain his services.

After featuring as a substitute against Sheffield United and Burnley, Nketiah was chosen to lead the line against Newcastle at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Nketiah was joined in the front three by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe, with Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli dropping to the bench.

Dani Ceballos was handed a place in a Premier League starting line-up for the first time since a 1-1 draw with Wolves on November 2.

Arsenal spent their mid-season break on a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, while Newcastle were granted an extended weekend off.

Steven Bergwijn has opened up on how his "world collapsed" upon hearing the news his good friend Abdelhak Nouri had suffered permanent brain damage.

Nouri collapsed during a pre-season fixture between Ajax and Werder Bremen in July 2017 and was placed in an induced coma.

The Amsterdam club later announced Nouri, a burgeoning talent in the club's academy, had been diagnosed with "serious and permanent brain damage".

Netherlands winger Bergwijn, who joined Tottenham in January, became big friends with Nouri – known as 'Appie' - in the youth ranks at Ajax before he switched to Eredivisie rivals PSV.

 "When I heard Appie had brain damage, I just can't describe my feelings," Bergwijn said.

"At that time I didn't sleep so much. In the first weeks I was scared to play, scared to go on the pitch because Appie was a young boy and out of nowhere. 

"It was difficult. It's still difficult. I speak to his brother every day but it's still difficult.

"We were like brothers. I have known Appie all my life, from when we were seven years old. We were in the same squad and since then we are best friends.

"We [PSV] played against RKC and I scored two. I was happy and after the game the team manager came to me and he said this has happened. Yeah, my world collapsed.

"I just waited for the calls from my agent because he went to see Appie. Then I heard two or three weeks later that he had brain damage. I can't describe it. At that time, I didn't sleep so much."

Bergwijn began his Spurs career with a sensational strike against Manchester City in a memorable 2-0 win earlier this month.

The 22-year-old had made a promise to Nouri's brother before making his debut for the Premier League club.

"I spoke with his brother and he told me, 'you're going to score for Appie,' and I said, 'okay, watch me, I'm going to score'. I did it."

Ajax were reportedly interested in bringing Bergwijn back to the club at the beginning of this campaign, but a move failed to materialise and he is now a Spurs player instead.

Bergwijn admits there was little time to think things through in January, saying: "My father called me and said, 'pack your stuff, you're going to London'.

"It was like this. It was fast. I didn't expect to make the transfer now, I thought in the summer. But if Tottenham wants you, you can't say no. It's an honour to be here.

"They have big players. In Holland, everyone regards them as big players, including me. But now they have welcomed me."

One win in five, two in seven, three in 10, four in 13: it is fair to say Chelsea's form in the Premier League has been well below what is expected of a 'big six' team.

However, the poor run of results has combined with missteps from Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, leaving Chelsea ahead of them in the race for the top four - though a two-season European ban for Manchester City is set to offer fifth place a route to the Champions League.

Despite leading Arsenal to just one win in his seven Premier League games at the helm, it is widely accepted that Mikel Arteta's impact since taking over the Gunners has been positive.

Questions were asked of Jose Mourinho's influence at Tottenham amid a run of four wins in 10 in all competitions, but a defeat against Chelsea on Monday could deal a huge blow for for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United.

The Red Devils have won three of their past seven in the top flight and five of their previous 11, so why is Frank Lampard not receiving the same level of scrutiny as his Norwegian counterpart?

 

A consistent approach

Although Lampard arrived at Chelsea with just one Championship season of managerial experience under his belt, he has implemented an attacking system with an increased passing tempo.

The players are comfortable in the positions they are deployed and can operate to the head coach's instruction, while he's also proved to be adaptable. A switch to a three-man defence and a high press earned a 2-0 win at Mourinho's Tottenham in December, while an in-game move away from that system after falling behind at Arsenal preceded a dramatic late turnaround for a 2-1 triumph.

A tactical switch resulted in United becoming the only team to deny runaway leaders Liverpool a Premier League victory this season, but, in contrast to Chelsea's front-foot approach, Solskjaer’s sides tend to offer more on the counter, with his focus appearing to be on speed and hard running.

Lampard's stock with fans was already high due to his status as a club legend and that has improved by laying on a more positive style than what was witnessed under Maurizio Sarri. Solskjaer, in contrast, has failed to move enough away from the defensive football that resulted in Mourinho's sacking at Old Trafford.

 

Market movements

A transfer embargo at the start of his tenure meant Lampard was unable to make any new signings after taking over from Sarri.

His focus on youth was a necessity, rather than out of choice, but he has still been bold in making Tammy Abraham his first-choice striker and trusting Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James to make the step up to first-team regulars a season after successful loan spells in the Championship.

Abraham, Mount and Tomori have experienced dips in the quality of their individual displays, but that is only to be expected from young players.

Solskjaer has also shown faith in academy products - Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood are regular fixtures in the first-team squad.

However, their transfer policy has become the subject of much consternation. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward's house was attacked before a big-money deal for Bruno Fernandes was wrapped up in January, finally bringing an end to a saga that had been drawn out since the previous window. The arrival of Harry Maguire in the close season was similarly long-winded.

United appear to make a meal out of any major signing and are still yet to appoint a director of football to aid the process.

The structure at Chelsea is far clearer and while Solskjaer has been at pains to talk up his role in transfers, Lampard has made it clear such matters are largely out of his hands. By voicing his displeasure at a lack of signings in January, he cleverly moved to absolve himself of any blame.

 

Great (or not so great) expectations

The season was essentially a write-off for Chelsea before it had even started, a place in the top four would likely have been considered an overachievement.

Since being appointed permanently in March, Solskjaer has had to contend with failing to keep United at the level he inspired them to during his initial interim reign – he won his first eight games and 14 out of 19, while also securing a place in the Champions League quarter-finals before being appointed permanently in March. It took him until December to rack up another 14 victories.

The availability of Mauricio Pochettino, so often linked with United, has only served to sharpen the focus on the Norwegian and increase the speculation over his position.

A poor result against Chelsea will no doubt ramp it up further.

Manchester City's two-season Champions League ban could be about to reverberate through the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola's future had been a topic of discussion prior to UEFA handing down sanctions for "serious" Financial Fair Play breaches and the loss of European competition has fuelled suggestions the Catalan could quit the club.

Media reports indicate City already have alternatives in mind, and their search for a successor looks set to pose problems for Premier League rivals.

 

TOP STORY – CITY EYE PEP REPLACEMENTS

Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers are among the contenders to take over at City if Guardiola walks, according to The Telegraph.

The report states the pair "would be in the running" to become the club's next manager in the event their current boss decides to leave at the end of the season.

Ex-Tottenham manager Pochettino recently admitted he would "love" to return to the Premier League, telling the 'In The Pink' podcast: "It's going to be difficult, I know, and for now it's a moment to wait and we'll see what happens."

The Argentinian has been heavily linked to City's cross-town rivals Manchester United, while Rodgers is tied to Leicester City until 2025.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus-linked Guardiola might not be the only big name headed for the Etihad Stadium exit. The Sun claims Real Madrid will launch an "all-out assault" in a bid to sign Raheem Sterling.

- City could potentially even be docked Premier League points for the same Financial Fair Play breaches that compelled UEFA to act, says The Guardian.

- Meanwhile, over at Old Trafford, United have set their asking price for Paul Pogba at £130million, reports the Daily Star.

- As for potential arrivals, United are interested in Norwich City pair Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons plus West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, states the Daily Mail.

- Serie A side Milan are no closer to extending Gianluigi Donnarumma's deal beyond June 2021, according to Tuttomercato, and LaLiga title contenders Madrid are monitoring the situation.

- Sky Sport Germany continues to link former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac to manager-less Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin, who saw Jurgen Klinsmann leave earlier in the week.

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