Leroy Sane said he was "overjoyed" to be at Bayern Munich after undertaking his first training session since joining the club.

Bayern shared footage on their social media accounts of Sane being put through his paces on Monday, the winger working out alongside new team-mate Niklas Sule.

The Germany international joined the Bundesliga champions from Manchester City in a deal worth €60million this month, signing a five-year contract to seal a return to his homeland.

"It was very good," Sane said during the short video.

"It was a small group for training with Niklas Sule, but it was great to be out on the pitch again, completing my first session here on the training ground.  

"I'm just overjoyed to be here."

Sane was seemingly set to move to Bayern last year, only to suffer a serious knee injury during the Community Shield against Liverpool.

The 24-year-old played just 11 minutes in the Premier League for City this season, with Pep Guardiola revealing the Premier League club had failed in their attempts to convince the player to sign a new contract.

Bayern have already confirmed Sane will wear the number 10 shirt next season, as donned by Philippe Coutinho during his season-long loan from Barcelona.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hansi Flick and Manuel Neuer were delighted to welcome Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich on Friday but quickly turned their attention back to the DFB-Pokal final.

Bayern have confirmed the long-anticipated arrival of Sane from Manchester City on a five-year deal.

But the Bundesliga champions have little time to reflect on their successful pursuit of the winger as they prepare to take on Bayer Leverkusen in Berlin on Saturday in the second leg of their treble bid.

Flick said of his new signing: "We're happy, but it's not the time to talk about it."

Captain Neuer was slightly more forthcoming when asked about his Germany team-mate Sane, but his primary focus is on lifting another trophy.

"I hope [Sane] can win the Pokal with Bayern in the future," he said. "We Bayern players are happy that he will be with us next season."

Flick hopes to have Niklas Sule back involved, with his defence tasked with containing Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, another Germany international linked with Bayern.

Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz says his side cannot rely solely on 21-year-old Havertz.

"He is important but cannot win the game alone," Bosz said. "I don't think the game has anything to do with his future."

Flick agreed individual quality alone would not decide the day, adding: "Both teams have very good players, but you cannot be successful alone.

"You need a good team effort. We shouldn't think about who the top player is."

Leroy Sane will wear the number 10 shirt belonging to Philippe Coutinho when he plays for Bayern Munich next season.

Bayern completed the signing of Sane from Manchester City in a deal worth €60million on Friday, the Germany international putting pen to paper on a five-year contract.

When he is eligible to feature in 2020-21, Sane will occupy the number worn by Coutinho during his season-long loan from Barcelona.

However, while advertising replica 'Sane 10' shirts for sale in their official club store, Bayern said: "Out of respect for Philippe Coutinho, who is the current number 10 and could play in the upcoming DFB-Pokal final in Berlin and any games in the Champions League in August, Sane decided not to use the number in his photos on Thursday."

The decision appears to suggest Coutinho is unlikely to remain at Bayern for the long term.

The Brazil international has been linked with a host of clubs across Europe after the Bundesliga champions let their option to sign him permanently expire.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has not ruled out moving again for Coutinho entirely, saying: "We'll see if he still has a role to play with us or not."

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.

The Leroy Sane saga

July 02, 2020

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

Manchester City were merely reigning Premier League champions from around the turn of the year. Any meaningful title defence ended a long time ago.

After amassing an astounding 198 points over the course of consecutive championship-winning campaigns, Pep Guardiola's men were unable to summon an adequate response in the face of Liverpool's relentless onslaught.

City's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week completed the formalities, meaning Guardiola's plans over how to wrest back control should already be well underway.

Ahead of Liverpool's trip to City on Thursday, we look at the areas where he and the Etihad Stadium's brain trust should be focusing their attention.

 

ADDRESS OBVIOUS GAPS IN THE SQUAD

Guardiola's suggestion at the end of last week that he might not seek a like-for-like replacement for Leroy Sane if the Germany winger completes his long-mooted switch to Bayern Munich understandably caused consternation among City fans. Vincent Kompany's influence and aura were irreplaceable when he called time on his career in Manchester in May 2019, but a new centre-back would certainly have come in handy.

The cruciate knee ligament injury that decimated Aymeric Laporte's campaign left Fernandinho simultaneously learning a new position and standing in as City's most reliable option in central defence, as Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones laboured. A high-quality partner for Laporte must be the number one transfer market priority.

A natural left-winger is also needed. Sane has been another long-term injury victim this term and, without that option, City's attacks have sometimes become narrow and predictable. On the subject of cruciate knee ligament injuries, Benjamin Mendy looks to have put a nightmarish two years behind him, although he endured a game to forget against Chelsea. It would be foolish to count on the France international's fitness holding for long and links to England left-back Ben Chilwell are understandable.

RECHARGE AND REPLENISH STAR MEN

The three positions above are likely to be the limit of City's ambitions in an uncertain market, with the depth of coronavirus' impact upon football finances yet to be fully realised. Whether or not the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport overturns or reduces their two-season Champions League ban must also be factored into any plans.

The good thing for Guardiola is the fact that plenty of room for improvement lies within. Aside from the imperious Kevin De Bruyne and the ever-prolific Sergio Aguero, it is hard to identify a senior City player who can be wholly satisfied with their efforts this term. Ederson's three errors leading to a goal are second only to Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (five) in the division, while Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have at times appeared burned out following the exertions of a triumphant 2018-19.

UNLEASH PHIL FODEN

David Silva's departure at the end of this season was expected to usher in Phil Foden to blossom as the master's apprentice. This has been muddied slightly by the England Under-21 star's best performances coming in a wide attacking role, most notably his man-of-the-match outing in the EFL Cup final and his two-goal showing in the recent 5-0 demolition of Burnley. He was badly missed at Chelsea.

Guardiola loves players who are adept in a number of roles and Foden has thrived regardless of what his brief is on any given stage. The academy product has long looked a player at home in this City team; he now seems like one who could significantly elevate it. It is time to let him fly.

REMAIN BANNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

From having to scale down more ambitious transfer targets to tackling some awkward conversations with star players over their immediate futures, the seismic blow of City's exclusion from the Champions League holding firm should not be underplayed. However, if we are looking at this purely in terms of their chances of winning a third Premier League title in four seasons, a coach of Guardiola's calibre getting free midweeks to hone his side to his version of perfection is something of which Liverpool and others would be right to be wary.

DON'T ACTUALLY CHANGE TOO MUCH

Under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, City compiled deplorably meek title defences. The clear daylight between themselves and Liverpool this time around makes it tempting to lump their 2019-20 efforts in with those other failures. But there is an important wider context. The Manchester United and Chelsea sides that unseated Mancini and Pellegrini were not a patch on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool machine. This City had won six of the previous seven domestic honours on offer and could conceivably finish 2019-20 with the FA Cup and that elusive Champions League nestled alongside the EFL Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Also, it is not a slight on the Reds' brilliance to note most things that could have fallen in their favour this season have. That is inevitable. City sealed their 100-point season with a last-minute winner at Southampton, having beaten Saints, Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield Town in similar fashion before the turn of the year. Mind-boggling deeds require a certain level of fortune.

Heading into their game at Chelsea, City were still ahead of Liverpool by five points with a game in hand in Opta's Expected Goals league table (Yes, yes… when's the parade?!?!). Liverpool's brutally clinical efforts are to be admired, but the underlying numbers suggest such a gulf will not become the norm.

Pep Guardiola is not looking to bring Jadon Sancho back to Manchester City as Leroy Sane's replacement as the manager plans for a rebuild he insists is "a normal situation".

Stats Perform News understands Sane is set to sign for Bayern Munich after an initial €49million (£44.5m) deal - potentially rising to €60m (£54.5m) - was agreed between the clubs.

Sane has missed much of the season due to injury but had previously been linked to Bayern and has now played his last match for City.

Yet if City are to recruit a winger in the Germany international's place, Sancho – who has been linked with a Borussia Dortmund exit – does not appear a viable candidate.

Sancho left City for Dortmund in 2017 in pursuit of first-team football, soon establishing himself in the Bundesliga.

The England star has been linked with Manchester United, among a host of other elite clubs, but Guardiola does not foresee a return to City.

"No, he decided to leave," Guardiola said of Sancho. "Why should he decide to come back?

"We wanted him to stay - like Eric [Garcia] and Phil [Foden], like Leroy now. So when he decided to move to Dortmund, it's not because he's going to decide to come back a year later.

"He didn't want to be here, so I don't think he wants to come back here."

He added: "Players are being considered important by the club but they decide to leave.

"They don't want to be here, which is the case of Jadon Sancho and especially Leroy - Sancho was in the academy, but especially Leroy.

"I said many times: if a player doesn't want to stay, they have to leave, because we are not getting the best out of a player in his mind if they are not happy here."

Guardiola acknowledges City have work to do in the transfer market, though, saying: "It's part of another process.

"We would like to stay with the players who give this club what they gave us for the last decade. We grow and sometimes we have to replace them, and we are going to do it and replace with new players.

"In some [positions, City need to rebuild] - not for a lack of quality, but for the absences of Vinny [Vincent Kompany] and now David [Silva, out of contract at the end of the season].

"With Fernandinho and [Sergio] Aguero, next season's the last year of their contracts and we don't know if they're going to extend or not, so partly yes, some players we have to rebuild a little.

"But it's not like a disaster or a bad thing, it's part of the age, it's a normal situation and circumstances. It happens in all the clubs."

Pep Guardiola wished Leroy Sane all the best at "fantastic" Bayern Munich as he confirmed the Germany winger's return to the Bundesliga is almost done.

Stats Perform News understands a fee was agreed between the clubs on Tuesday, with the Germany international to cost an initial €49million (£44.5m), rising to €60m (£54.5m) and he is expected in Munich on Wednesday.

It brings a four-year stay in the Premier League to an end and will leave a overriding sense of what might have been – the 24-year-old missed virtually all of 2019-20 due to a serious knee injury.

Prior to that he had shown immense abilities in back-to-back Premier League title triumphs for City, winning the Professional Footballers' Association's (PFA) Young Player of the Year award in 2017-18.

But Bayern had emerged as suitors last year before his knee injury and, with his City contract set to expire next year, the Bundesliga champions have managed to secured a cut-price deal.

While the move is not yet complete, Guardiola confirmed it is close and he wished the former Schalke talent well.

"It looks like it," Guardiola said of Sane joining Bayern in Wednesday's news conference ahead of facing Liverpool on Thursday.

"It's not already done, there are still some little issues, but it looks like he'll go to Munich. I wish him all the best.

"I give him big thanks for these years together and I wish him all the best in a fantastic club.

"He wants to leave - everyone has their own life. I would have loved him to stay here, but he decided to leave, he thinks he'll be better and happier, so I've nothing to say."

Sane's absence has been seen viewed as a reason for City's inability to challenge Liverpool for the Premier League title this season, with the Reds wrapping it up with a 23-point cushion last week.

Guardiola admits Liverpool have simply been the better team, but he vowed to ensure the Reds "feel" 2020-21, as he plots to overthrow Jurgen Klopp's men.

"First of all, there was a team that was better, they played at an outstanding level in every game and you have to do more," he said.

"The supporters help you understand, it's an incredible part of our education to accept another is better, then you have to try to reduce this gap. From the last game to the future seven eight, nine games left through to next season, we must work harder and do better.

"We are going to make Liverpool feel next season, and other opponents will try to fight for the next chapters in the Premier League as well."

Leroy Sane's long-mooted switch from Manchester City to Bayern Munich has been agreed.

The Germany international will initially cost Bayern €49million (£44.5m), rising to €60m (£54.5m) and is expected in Munich on Wednesday, Stats Perform News understands.

Sane joined City from Schalke in 2016 in a deal reportedly worth an initial £37m (€40m) and he 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 Pep 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.

Bayern were rumoured to have been interested in bringing the winger back to the Bundesliga last year, however they were said to be unwilling to match City's asking price.

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

Much of his time on the sidelines coincided with strengthening reports of Sane desiring a move to Munich, and on June 19 Guardiola confirmed the 24-year-old had informed the club he would not be signing an extension to his contract.

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 reported fee of up to €60m is significantly less than the £137m (€150m) asking price they are alleged to have set in 2019.

Manchester City could be ready to challenge rivals Manchester United for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 24, has been linked with a move away from Villa, with Old Trafford seemingly his most likely destination.

But City may be primed to join the race for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MOVE FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Manchester City will consider a move for Grealish if they receive their asking price for Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to The Telegraph.

Sane is set to leave the Premier League giants this close season amid continued links to Bayern.

And City could challenge Manchester United for Grealish – who has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 35 games this season – if their asking price is met.

ROUND-UP

- Quique Setien is under increasing pressure at Barcelona. RAC1 reports Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, chief executive Oscar Grau, sporting director Javier Bordas and technical secretary Eric Abidal met at Setien's house on Monday to discuss the current situation. Trailing Real Madrid by two points in LaLiga, Esport3 says Setien could be fired as early as this week.

- Arsenal have made a decision regarding Dani Ceballos. The Sun says the Premier League club will not make a move to buy the midfielder from Real Madrid when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

- With Serie A promotion secured, Benevento could be set to strengthen. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the club are set to sign former Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who is coming out of contract at Lille.

- Real Sociedad are leading the chase to sign Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo on loan next season, according to AS. The 19-year-old has been on loan at Mallorca this season, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the Japan international.

- With Timo Werner joining Chelsea, RB Leipzig have seemingly found a replacement from the forward. According to Sky, Hwang Hee-chan will join Leipzig from Salzburg for about €10million. Hwang has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and Wolves.

- Celtic are reportedly keen to hold onto Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper has been on loan from Southampton this season and The Sun reports Celtic want to buy the former England international.

Achraf Hakimi appears to have found a new home.

The Morocco international has impressed during his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund, attracting plenty of interest.

But LaLiga giants Real Madrid are reportedly ready to cash in on Achraf.

 

TOP STORY – INTER AGREE ACHRAF DEAL

Inter have agreed a deal to sign Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Achraf has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund, who have been interested in signing the Morocco international permanently.

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been among the clubs interested in Achraf, but Madrid are set to sell the 21-year-old to Antonio Conte's Inter for a reported €40million fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport1 claims Leroy Sane's proposed move to Bayern Munich is on hold until 2021. The Manchester City star is tipped to leave the Etihad Stadium for Bundesliga champions Bayern, though the two clubs have been unable to strike a deal. Sane now looks likely to depart once his contract expires next year.

Arthur will travel to Turin in the coming days to undergo a medical ahead of his move to Juventus, according to RAC1. Barcelona midfielder Arthur is set to join Juve, with Miralem Pjanic moving in the opposite direction.

Roma are plotting a move for free agent Edinson Cavani, says Calciomercato. Cavani is available on a free transfer after leaving PSG, with Atletico Madrid, Inter and Napoli eyeing the Uruguayan forward.

- Sport reports the Champions League will determine Neymar's future at PSG. Neymar has long been linked with a return to Barca following his world-record departure in 2017.

- Calciomercato says Milan are focused on signing Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai. However, PSG and Arsenal are also among the teams eyeing the 19-year-old Hungarian.

Manchester United are among the possible destinations for Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who faces an uncertain future with the London club, according to L'Equipe.

Manchester City were merely reigning Premier League champions from around the turn of the year. Any meaningful title defence ended a long time ago.

After amassing an astounding 198 points over the course of consecutive championship-winning campaigns, Pep Guardiola's men were unable to summon an adequate response in the face of Liverpool's relentless onslaught.

City's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge completed the formalities, meaning Guardiola's plans over how to wrest back control should already be well underway.

Here, we look at the areas where he and the Etihad Stadium's brain trust should be focusing their attention.

 

ADDRESS OBVIOUS GAPS IN THE SQUAD

Guardiola's suggestion at the end of last week that he might not seek a like-for-like replacement for Leroy Sane if the Germany winger completes his long-mooted switch to Bayern Munich understandably caused consternation among City fans. Vincent Kompany's influence and aura were irreplaceable when he called time on his career in Manchester in May 2019, but a new centre-back would certainly have come in handy.

The cruciate knee ligament injury that decimated Aymeric Laporte's campaign left Fernandinho simultaneously learning a new position and standing in as City's most reliable option in central defence, as Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones laboured. A high-quality partner for Laporte must be the number one transfer market priority.

A natural left-winger is also needed. Sane has been another long-term injury victim this term and, without that option, City's attacks have sometimes become narrow and predictable. On the subject of cruciate knee ligament injuries, Benjamin Mendy looks to have put a nightmarish two years behind him, although he endured a game to forget against Chelsea. It would be foolish to count on the France international's fitness holding for long and links to England left-back Ben Chilwell are understandable.

RECHARGE AND REPLENISH STAR MEN

The three positions above are likely to be the limit of City's ambitions in an uncertain market, with the depth of coronavirus' impact upon football finances yet to be fully realised. Whether or not the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport overturns or reduces their two-season Champions League ban must also be factored into any plans.

The good thing for Guardiola is the fact that plenty of room for improvement lies within. Aside from the imperious Kevin De Bruyne and the ever-prolific Sergio Aguero, it is hard to identify a senior City player who can be wholly satisfied with their efforts this term. Ederson's three errors leading to a goal are second only to Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (five) in the division, while Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have at times appeared burned out following the exertions of a triumphant 2018-19.

UNLEASH PHIL FODEN

David Silva's departure at the end of this season was expected to usher in Phil Foden to blossom as the master's apprentice. This has been muddied slightly by the England Under-21 star's best performances coming in a wide attacking role, most notably his man-of-the-match outing in the EFL Cup final and his two-goal showing in the recent 5-0 demolition of Burnley. He was badly missed at Chelsea.

Guardiola loves players who are adept in a number of roles and Foden has thrived regardless of what his brief is on any given stage. The academy product has long looked a player at home in this City team; he now seems like one who could significantly elevate it. It is time to let him fly.

REMAIN BANNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

From having to scale down more ambitious transfer targets to tackling some awkward conversations with star players over their immediate futures, the seismic blow of City's exclusion from the Champions League holding firm should not be underplayed. However, if we are looking at this purely in terms of their chances of winning a third Premier League title in four seasons, a coach of Guardiola's calibre getting free midweeks to hone his side to his version of perfection is something of which Liverpool and others would be right to be wary.

DON'T ACTUALLY CHANGE TOO MUCH

Under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, City compiled deplorably meek title defences. The clear daylight between themselves and Liverpool this time around makes it tempting to lump their 2019-20 efforts in with those other failures. But there is an important wider context. The Manchester United and Chelsea sides that unseated Mancini and Pellegrini were not a patch on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool machine. This City had won six of the previous seven domestic honours on offer and could conceivably finish 2019-20 with the FA Cup and that elusive Champions League nestled alongside the EFL Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Also, it is not a slight on the Reds' brilliance to note most things that could have fallen in their favour this season have. That is inevitable. City sealed their 100-point season with a last-minute winner at Southampton, having beaten Saints, Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield Town in similar fashion before the turn of the year. Mind-boggling deeds require a certain level of fortune.

Heading into their game at Chelsea, City were still ahead of Liverpool by five points with a game in hand in Opta's Expected Goals league table (Yes, yes… when's the parade?!?!). Liverpool's brutally clinical efforts are to be admired, but the underlying numbers suggest such a gulf will not become the norm.

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