Jamie Vardy was the scourge of Manchester City again as his hat-trick secured a sensational 5-2 win for Leicester City and raised fresh questions about Pep Guardiola's defence.

The striker won two penalties and converted both, either side of a terrific backheeled finish for his second goal, to net his second hat-trick against City – almost four years after his treble in a 4-2 victory over the same opponents.

His former Leicester team-mate Riyad Mahrez gave the hosts the lead at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, but Vardy then took centre stage, with James Maddison adding a brilliant fourth goal late on.

Nathan Ake headed a City consolation, but Leicester then scored a fifth in a dramatic Premier League clash, with Maddison fouled and Youri Tielemans slotting in another penalty.

It meant Guardiola, in his 686th game as a manager, suffered the indignity of seeing one of his team’s conceding five goals for the first time.

Ruben Dias is on the verge of leaving Benfica.

The Portugal international is wanted by Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

Could he help City dethrone Premier League champions Liverpool?

 

TOP STORY – DIAS SET FOR CITY

Benfica defender Ruben Dias will join Manchester City, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

Pep Guardiola has been eyeing defensive reinforcements following Nathan Ake's arrival from Bournemouth, and now Dias is set to swap Benfica for City.

As part of the deal, veteran centre-back Nicolas Otamendi will move in the opposite direction.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Barcelona rejected a €150million offer for teenage sensation Ansu Fati from an unnamed club. Manchester United have been linked previously.

Sergino Dest will travel to Camp Nou to complete his move to Barca, reports RAC1. The Ajax full-back is also wanted by Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Milan and Roma are both interested in signing Norwich City right-back Max Aarons, says Sky Sports. The Englishman has previously been linked to Barca and Bayern.

- According to Sportitalia, West Ham are in talks with Serie A holders Juventus for defender Daniele Rugani.

- Lyon want €50million (£46m) for in-demand star Houssem Aouar amid interest from Arsenal, claims RMC Sport. Paris Saint-Germain, City and Chelsea have also been linked.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola accused football authorities of failing in their duty of care amid a hectic fixture schedule, insisting players are "not machines".

Matches are coming thick and fast following a shortened off-season after the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign, with City due to host Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday on the back of Thursday's EFL Cup victory.

City will be without Gabriel Jesus as their injury list grows – Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all recovering from fitness issues.

Guardiola – whose City were afforded an extra week of recovery before opening their season with victory at Wolves following a run to the Champions League quarter-finals – hit out at the football calendar, telling reporters: "Nobody cares about the players. It is about the business. The reality is what it is.

"It is not just Man City, it is all the clubs and countries. Nobody cares about the players.

"Everyone - the Premier League, UEFA, EFL - has defended their own business and position.

"The players had a two-week pre-season and now they have to play every three days for 11 months. We will not change anything saying the opposite.

"I understand it is an exceptional situation for everyone - restaurants, theatres, cinemas, museums.

"Everyone is struggling. We are not an exception. We have to believe in what we are doing and try and play a good game.

"We have three players who came back from national teams injured. We cannot control that. They let them play two games in four days without preparation. They are not machines."

While frustrated with the demands on players, Guardiola heaped praise on City star Riyad Mahrez ahead of his reunion with former club Leicester.

Mahrez, who won the 2016 Premier League title with Leicester, made his first appearance of the season in the 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Thursday following a positive coronavirus test during pre-season.

"Riyad is an exceptional player. He arrived late after the positive COVID-19 test only training for a few days before Wolves but I know how important he is for us," Guardiola said.

"For the quality, the passes and especially his mentality and he is aggressive to score goals. We will train the guys who didn't play [against Bournemouth] and we will see the way we are going to play and then which players will play."

Benfica defender Ruben Dias appears set to join Manchester City after the Portuguese giants' coach Jorge Jesus confirmed Saturday's 2-0 win over Moreirense was "almost certainly" the centre-back's final outing in Portugal.

Dias, 23, came through Benfica's academy and has been a regular in the club's senior side since the 2017-18 campaign.

In that time he has reportedly been tracked by many of Europe's biggest clubs, including Manchester United, but it appears his next move will see him wear blue instead of red.

City are said to have offered €55million (£50m) and Nicolas Otamendi to Benfica for the highly rated Dias, who is also a regular at international level with Portugal.

Dias scored the opening goal in Saturday's victory and also wore the captain's armband, while he was shown sharing emotional embraces with Benfica icon Rui Costa and other members of the club's hierarchy at full-time.

Jesus then effectively confirmed Dias' exit as he spoke to the media.

"I would like to be absolutely sure, but it was almost certainly the last game he played," Jesus told reporters.

"In football you never know, sometimes everything changes in the last second, but I think that will not happen. He is a player we are sorry to see leave. He's a great player.

"But I also have some fault for the departure, this has to do with the elimination from the Champions League [qualifiers] and there are things that have to be balanced.

"He is the only player who has a high market value. He is already a good player and will be a beautiful player."

Jesus also briefly discussed the chance of Otamandi joining from City, suggesting it will not be a swift adaptation period for the former Porto man.

"Of course, Ruben has had seven weeks with me. It was not easy at first for all of them to adapt to my idea of ​​the game," he said.

"And when he [Otamendi] arrives, he will realise that my ideas are different from those of Manchester City. This is if the Manchester City player comes.

"There is also talk of Ruben Semedo. It will be weeks of adaptation."

A visibly emotional Dias savoured his moment with Costa and was thrilled to seemingly close the Benfica chapter of career in such a manner.

"It was a special moment [with Costa] and I think everyone already knows why," he said. "Obviously, people leave their mark on you, and the club also. Without a doubt, it was very special for me.

"I am very happy. It was very important to consecrate this game with a goal, it was very special for me."

Jurgen Klopp expects an "open race" as multiple teams compete for Premier League glory this season, insisting it will not just be a shoot-out between Liverpool and Manchester City.

The German brought the top-flight trophy back to Anfield for the first time in 30 years last term, with the Reds finishing 18 points clear of Pep Guardiola's side, who themselves were 15 ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea.

Despite that huge gap, Klopp believes it will be a close-run thing this term, with the Liverpool boss including Tottenham and Monday's opponents Arsenal in the mix.

The Gunners finished a distant eighth, 43 points shy of the champions' incredible tally of 99, and yet Klopp considers Mikel Arteta's side, who beat Liverpool in the Community Shield on spot-kicks, challengers.

"They came eighth because they did not have a time to sort the situation," he said, referencing the fact Arteta was not appointed until December.

"They were not the eighth best team in the league, they could've qualified easily for Europe [via the league], if not even the Champions League.

"The Premier League and these teams are too good, you can't decide the season before it starts. It just doesn't work like this.

"Man City, I think maybe people thought they could have some struggles at Wolves because Wolves are really good ... and in the second half they could have got a point.

"Nobody is safe from this kind of thing, so we have to work incredibly hard. And over the other teams we have no influence. When we face them, we want to beat them.

"It's an open race, Chelsea will be there, [Manchester] United will be there, Arsenal, Tottenham – these teams will always be there.

"There are tough moments for us and other teams and it's about how you react and are you doing it in the right way.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to go through a lot of moments. I don't know why today we talk about winning the league, I have no idea who will win but I know a lot of teams will try."

Liverpool have started their title defence with wins over Leeds United and Chelsea, scoring six goals in the process.

Memphis Depay remains Barcelona's preferred transfer option, while Manchester United want Jadon Sancho and Alex Telles in this window.

LaLiga giants Barca have been linked with numerous attackers as they rebuild under Ronald Koeman.

Depay has seemingly been the favourite to join, and it appears nothing has changed.

 

TOP STORY – DEPAY THE FAVOURITE TO JOIN BARCELONA

Depay is in pole position to join Barcelona from Lyon, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report says Depay, 26, fits the profile and salary expectations at Barca.

Depay and Koeman worked together while the latter was in charge of the Netherlands between 2018 and 2020.

ROUND-UP

- United are still hoping for two signings this transfer window. The Sun says the Red Devils are looking to land Borussia Dortmund star Sancho and Porto left-back Telles .

- Arsenal could be close to strengthening by signing Houssem Aouar . Telefoot says the attacker has agreed to join the club, with Lyon and Arsenal set for talks over a fee.

- As they continue their search for a defender, Manchester City may be close to making a decision. Goal reports the Premier League club are in talks with Benfica over Ruben Dias , in a deal that could see Nicolas Otamendi  go the other way. Meanwhile, ESPN says Sevilla are expecting an improved bid from City for Jules Kounde after an initial £50.2million (€55m) offer was rejected.

- Chelsea may not be done spending just yet. The Mirror reports they want to make another move for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice , and it could lead to Jorginho joining Arsenal .

- Sergino Dest is expected to join Barcelona and Guillem Balague claims the Ajax right-back should officially join them next week. Barcelona sold Nelson Semedo to Wolves this week.

- Could there be late movement in the transfer window for Tottenham ? The Sun reports Spurs are in talks to sign Inter defender Milan Skriniar and are prepared to pay between £25m (€27.4m) and £30m (€32.9m), which is well below Inter's valuation.

Pep Guardiola seems desperate to reinforce his centre-back options before the transfer deadline early next month, and it appears his primary targets are Ruben Dias of Benfica and Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

Media reports on Friday suggested that City have offered approximately €55million, plus Nicolas Otamendi, for Dias having apparently had a similar offer turned down for Kounde last week.

Sevilla sporting director Monchi confirmed the club had received an offer for the talented Frenchman, though he did not reveal the club that bid – which was rejected – came from.

City had previously seemed focused on Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly, while Kounde's partner at Sevilla, Diego Carlos, was also said to have been considered.

But with no progress on those deals, City have identified younger options, with Dias 23 years old and Kounde not due to turn 22 for another two months.

With Dias and Kounde looking the likeliest to bolster Guardiola's defensive ranks, we used Opta data to compare the two players.

Adapting to City's style

Given he is a year-and-a-half older than Kounde, it's fair to suggest Dias is slightly further ahead in his development than Kounde, while he is also playing for one of the top teams in a less competitive league than LaLiga.

But there is a lot to like about the Portugal international's game and he does look well-suited to City's possession-based style of play.

He completed 1,934 of his 2,184 passes last term, and though that statistic in isolation doesn't prove a huge amount – many will have been simple and under no pressure – it does show he is used to seeing a lot of the ball.

Of those, 927 were in the opposing half and 81 per cent found a team-mate, whereas Kounde attempted 491 in the attacking half and completed 76.6 per cent.

It's a similar story with regards to passes ending in the final third, where play is likely to be more congested. Dias made 364 passes into such an area and was accurate 68.4 per cent of the time, while Kounde found a team-mate in the attacking third with 66.3 per cent accuracy from 160 passes.

As a base for comparison, City's current centre-backs are reflected much better by the data in this area – Otamendi's passing accuracy in the opposing half is 87.9 per cent, Aymeric Laporte's is 90 per cent, while in the final third their respective figures are 76.8 per cent and 84.6 per cent.

With respect to Kounde, it is worth bearing in mind that Sevilla play far more direct than either of the other two teams in question. They played 2,594 long balls in the league last term, while City registered 1,978 and Benfica attempted 1,581.

Where Kounde does come out on top, however, thus proving his ability on the ball and ease at bringing it out from the back, is the fact he attempted 22 dribbles and completed 81.2 per cent of them – of the defenders (that's centre-backs and full-backs) in LaLiga to try 20 or more dribbles, only one had a better success rate.

Dependable defenders?

As possession-oriented as City are, even a team like that has to do a bit of defending now and again – and although they only conceded two more goals than Liverpool in 2019-20, it was widely felt the centre of defence was their biggest issue.

Otamendi proved unreliable, Fernandinho isn't a natural centre-back, John Stones was unconvincing when fit and Laporte – undoubtedly their best option – missed a chunk of the season with an ACL injury.

The hole left by Laporte and Vincent Kompany's departure to Anderlecht was gaping and resulted in City looking flimsy, particularly when put under pressure – seven of their nine defeats were away from home.

Dependable, hard-working centre-backs capable of playing with the ball at their feet are seemingly what Guardiola is after, and both Dias and Kounde proved to be just that for their respective teams.

Kounde was a standout performer as recently as Thursday for Sevilla, impressing in spite of a 2-1 UEFA Super Cup defeat to Bayern Munich. He made three tackles and nine clearances, also winning each of his six aerial duels.

In a straight comparison between Dias and Kounde with regards to standard defensive metrics, the former does generally come out on top, as he won possession back more times (175 to 108) than the Frenchman, and bested him in terms of interceptions (30 to 23), overall clearances (101 to 88), tackles (44 to 23) and duels (254 to 229).

But Kounde, though less of a domineering physical specimen than Dias in appearance, does tend to be more effective aerially, suggesting his stats against Bayern were no fluke.

Despite playing four fewer matches than Dias, he made more headed clearances (56 to 50), engaged in a greater number of aerial duels (149 to 141) and won more as well (94 to 86).

The verdict

Both players fit the general mould of centre-backs that Guardiola likes, but to suggest either is the finished article or a world-class player yet would be premature.

Kounde did very well in his first season in LaLiga, but he only truly found consistency in his performances at the start of 2020 – a talent, certainly, with his ceiling seemingly very high, but prising him away could cost City well over £60m.

Dias appears the easier to sign given he will likely be slightly cheaper than Kounde, while in most cases in this statistical comparison, he has the edge.

But, with Victor Lindelof impressing for Benfica but struggling to convince with Manchester United, City may want to take note of a warning from across town.

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus is set to be sidelined until at least the middle of next month after he was withdrawn from Brazil's squad to face Bolivia and Peru in their opening 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

The nature of Jesus' injury has not been disclosed, although the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) confirmed in a statement that City informed them of 23-year-old's setback on Wednesday.

"The English team contacted the doctor of the Brazilian National Team, Rodrigo Lasmar, reporting the athlete's injury detected after the game against Wolves on Monday in the Premier League," the statement read.

Hertha Berlin forward Matheus Cunha has been added to Tite's squad, earning a first senior call-up after top scoring for Brazil's Under-23s in the CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament earlier this year.

Jesus completed the scoring in an impressive 3-1 win at Molineux and looked set for an extended run in Pep Guardiola's starting XI, especially as Sergio Aguero continues his rehabilitation from meniscus surgery.

As it is, the City boss will now be without a specialist senior centre-forward for Sunday's visit of Leicester City, with an EFL Cup tie at Burnley and a Premier League trip to Leeds United to negotiate before the international break that Jesus will miss.

Teenage striker Liam Delap marked his senior debut in Thursday's cup tie against Bournemouth with a well-taken goal and gives Guardiola an intriguing option in up front, although it is more likely Raheem Sterling will revert to a central attacking role in the league, with Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne among the options who could be deployed as a false nine.

After overcoming Bournemouth 2-1, Guardiola bemoaned the fact he might only have 13 senior players fit to face Leicester.

Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Oleksandr Zinchenko all returned from the previous international break with injuries and Nicolas Otamendi missed out in midweek due to "niggles", although the Argentina centre-back has since been touted as a makeweight in a reported deal to bring Ruben Dias to City from Benfica.

Ilkay Gundogan contracted coronavirus last week and Aymeric Laporte is yet to feature this season having only recently returned to training after his own positive test for COVID-19.

Phil Foden has put off-field issues behind him to make a superb start to what could come to be seen as a definitive season for the Manchester City youngster.

The attacking midfielder was used with increased frequency by during the 2019-20 campaign by manager Pep Guardiola, who handed him his debut as a 17-year-old in 2017.

Foden was named man of the match as City won a third consecutive EFL Cup with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Wembley on March 1 and, after lockdown, he took on a more prominent place in the first team.

Injury and illness problems have complicated the early days of this season at the Etihad Stadium, with Guardiola claiming he only expects to have 13 fit senior players for the visit of Leicester City on Saturday.

The former Barcelona boss can therefore be thankful he has Foden in prime form.

The 20-year-old crowned a sweeping team move during Monday's 3-1 win over Wolves before scoring decisively in Thursday's 2-1 win at home to Bournemouth, where Foden also laid on the opener for City's latest bright young thing, Liam Delap.

MORE THAN A CUP SPECIALIST

The perfectly weighted pass for centre-forward Delap meant Foden had assisted in each of his past three starts in the EFL Cup, with no player creating more chances from open play in the competition since the start of last season than the England international's 14.

Against Bournemouth alone, Foden carved out five openings for his team-mates.

His adeptness in both the main aspects of attacking football is underlined by the fact that among all Premier League players since the beginning of 2019-20, only Kevin De Bruyne (eight matches) and Mohamed Salah (six matches) have scored and assisted in the same game more often than Foden, who has done so on four occasions.

Overall, Foden has been involved in 24 goals in his 34 starts for City in all competitions. Those 13 goals and 11 assists are not simply a matter of him "padding" against inferior opponents - just look at a crucial winner against Tottenham during the 2018-19 title run-in and his strikes as City claimed convincing wins over Arsenal and Liverpool earlier this year.

ENGLAND'S CREATIVE HOPE

Of course, given Foden made headlines at the start of the month for breaching coronavirus self-isolation protocols in the aftermath of his England debut in Iceland, it is worth pondering whether Gareth Southgate will decide a player he sent home in disgrace alongside Manchester United's Mason Greenwood is worth the hassle.

After his alleged antics in Reykjavik, the City favourite might have to make a compelling case when considering the other creative midfielders jockeying for position ahead of next year's European Championship.

In terms of goals and assists since the start of 2019-20, Foden is comfortably ahead of his contemporaries. Across 40 appearances, his 10 goals and 10 assists give him one more goal involvement combined than Jack Grealish.

The Aston Villa captain, who made his long awaited bow against Denmark in Foden's absence this month, has one more goal and two fewer assists over the same period, but has played 3,730 minutes to reach those figures, compared to the City man's 1,921.

The high-quality of team-mates Foden benefit from here are obviously a factor, but he is also considerably more efficient than Mason Mount and James Maddison, who starred with Chelsea and Leicester City in the upper echelons of the Premier League last term.

Mount has played 56 games - compared to Foden's 40 - and 4,008 minutes across all competitions and accrued eight goals and six assists.

Maddison has three goals and nine assists in 41 appearances (3,206 minutes).

UNDER-21 KING

Looking beyond his position, since his City debut in 2017, Foden has outperformed all English players under 21 in terms of goals and assists.

Including his contributions when featuring as a substitute, he has scored 17 times and set up 13 more. Counting matches up until he turned 21 last October, Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is next on this list with 22 goals involvements - bolstered by a phenomenal 19 assists.

Foden's partner in escapades Greenwood is next with 18 goals and four assists, while Callum Hudson-Odoi has laid on 11 and scored eight despite his injury woes for Chelsea.

Greenwood (2,767) and Hudson-Odoi (2,817) have played fewer minutes than Foden (3,258) over the period in question, as has Arsenal's Bukayo Saka (four goals and 13 assists in 3,085 minutes). Burnley's Dwight McNeil is the sixth on this list of Englishmen with bright futures, having scored five goals and set up 12 more in 5,592 minutes spanning 69 appearances.

The past week suggests Foden is back on track after a very public fall from grace, with the wider numbers suggesting the sky is the limit for club and country, as far as the 'Stockport Iniesta' is concerned. He might even get a better nickname soon.

With all 20 Premier League teams now back in action, fantasy football managers around the world are tinkering and tweaking as they look to find that perfect balance of solid but deadly.

It's fair to say that we've already had a few surprises (for the fantasy football world, at least) this season, with Manchester United players barely making a splash at home to Crystal Palace (looking at you, Bruno Fernandes), Liverpool shipping three to promoted Leeds United on day one and Dominic Calvert-Lewin leading the scoring chart.

Everything's been all over the place – you need as much help as you can get, and hopefully that's where we can help.

Using Opta data, here are a few tips that might enable you get back on track, or even – for those of you lucky enough – build on an emphatic start…

RUI PATRICIO

Despite the disappointing 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, Wolves appear set for another encouraging season, having seemingly recruited well and retained most of their key players.

Among those is Rui Patricio, who is second only to Ederson (0.45) in terms of goals conceded per game (0.82) since the Premier League resumed in June, while the Portugal international's six clean sheets in that time is also the second best in the division.

Up next for Wolves is a trip to West Ham, who have lost both of their first two games of the season, scoring just one goal in the process.

MICHAEL KEANE

Goal-scoring perhaps isn't a key factor for many when considering which defenders to choose in their fantasy team, but picking one who has a habit of finding the net can give you the edge.

Michael Keane heads into the weekend having scored twice since the June resumption, a record beaten by no other defender, while he also boasts the best shot conversion rate (40 per cent) among defenders to have attempted at least five in that time period.

Everton are looking impressive at the moment, and with quality deliveries from James Rodriguez and Lucas Digne floating in regularly, who's to say Keane won't find the net again at Crystal Palace?

SADIO MANE

This one's quite simple – Sadio Mane loves playing against Arsenal.

In 12 matches against the Gunners, he has scored six times. He has only managed more in meetings with Palace (nine in 11), and he goes into the game on the back of a match-winning brace at Chelsea last time out.

Matches between two of the big guns can prove a little risky in terms of captain selection, and Mane's certainly not cheap – but few have his record in such games.

MATHEUS PEREIRA

It's been a difficult readjustment to the Premier League for West Brom, who host Chelsea next having conceded eight times in two matches and scored just twice.

But those two goals should pique the interest of fantasy fans, given Matheus Pereira was involved in both (one goal, one assist) and won't break the bank.

The Brazilian will surely be key if the Baggies are to avoid the drop this term, having had a hand in 11 more goals (nine scored, 17 set up) than any other player for the club since the start of 2019-20.

RAUL JIMENEZ

Two games, two goals – Jimenez has picked up right where he left off last season, the Mexican continuing to be the go-to man in attack for Wolves.

There's every chance that will continue at West Ham as well, given his penchant for scoring against the Hammers.

Jimenez has three goals in his past three Premier League clashes with West Ham, including a brace in January.

He also has four in six domestically, though a word of caution – Jimenez hasn't netted in three successive games since November last year.

GABRIEL JESUS

With Sergio Aguero out for the time being, Gabriel Jesus has the chance to find some form and enjoy a run of regular starts – he'll likely be encouraged by what's to come as well.

Leicester City are the visitors to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and in five previous league outings against the Foxes, Jesus has four goals.

Only against Everton (seven) has Jesus netted more frequently, and given City's impressive season-starting 3-1 win at Wolves, they will be favourites when Brendan Rodgers' table-toppers (on goal difference) come to town.

On the face of it, Jesus looks a strong choice for the captaincy this week.

 

DANNY INGS

Under Ralph Hasenhuttl, Danny Ings really is in the form of his life.

Since the start of last season, his haul of 24 goals is second only to Jamie Vardy in the Premier League, while he has scored 45 per cent of Saints' league goals in that time.

Up next is former club Burnley, and although notoriously difficult to play against, they conceded four to Leicester last time out.

Liam Delap will remain part of Pep Guardiola's first-team plans after making a goalscoring senior debut in Manchester City's 2-1 win over Bournemouth in the EFL Cup.

Delap, who is the son of former Stoke City favourite Rory, was an unused substitute for City's opening 3-1 Premier League win at Wolves.

With Sergio Aguero sidelined due to a knee injury and Gabriel Jesus rested as the only remaining specialist striker in Guardiola's squad, the 17-year-old was handed a start at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

He duly opened the scoring in the 18th minute, showing pace and power to latch on to Phil Foden's throughball and clip a brilliant left-footed finish into the top right corner.

Foden netted the winner 15 minutes from time after Sam Surridge found a quick response to Delap's strike.

Speaking at a post-match news conference, Guardiola pointed to the example of Foden, who also made his debut at 17 but had to be patient in his quest to become a first-team regular.

"We see in training how good a finisher he is," the City manager said of Delap. Now he has to be calm and keep working.

"We are delighted with his performance - he played really well.

"The situation that we have right now is we have just 13 players available in the first team. We need players from the academy, not just in training sessions.

"With the problems we have up front, Liam will stay with us. We'll use him but we cannot forget how we spoke about Phil in previous seasons."

Delap shone brightest in a youthful City line-up, that featured Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis at centre-back, Tommy Doyle in midfield and playmaker Adrian Bernabe at left-back.

The latter endured a miserable outing and left the field on a stretcher before half-time.

Afterwards, attention turned back towards Delap and Guardiola was keen to praise City's academy production line, which churns under the watchful eye of former England winger Jason Wilcox.

"He is just 17, he has a lot of things to improve. They need their own time, we cannot anticipate the process of each young player," he added.

"Congratulations to the academy for all the guys that are involved, scouting to recruit these players and all the managers in the academy.

"At the end I have the finished product, the last steps, but before there are a lot of players working for this. Jason Wilcox is now the boss in the academy who helps us to have these players."

Having stayed in contention for a fourth consecutive EFL Cup success, City host in-form Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

Liam Delap gave Manchester City a tantalising glimpse of their future before the EFL Cup holders were forced to scrap for a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth in round three.

Delap, the 17-year-old son of former Stoke City favourite Rory, has sparked plenty of excitable talk through his explosive performances for City's youth teams and he wasted little time when it came to making an impression on his senior debut.

Pace, power and a dead-eyed finish in the 18th minute had Pep Guardiola celebrating with delight, but the City boss soon had a furrowed brow as Sam Surridge brought the Championship side level.

Flimsy defending and a failure to create regular clear chances saw Guardiola send for the cavalry in Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, with the winner arriving in fortuitous fashion when Foden scuffed a shot into the turf and in after Riyad Mahrez's drive came back off the post.

Foden was one of three players retained from the City side that beat Wolves 3-1 in their Premier League opener and the England midfielder slipped a cute pass to Mahrez in the 16th minute, Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers saving at his near post.

Foden was the provider again two minutes later, with Delap powering past Jack Simpson and clipping a brilliant left-footed finish into the top corner.

City's other debutant, Zack Steffen, was picking the ball out of his net as Bournemouth found a swift, well-worked equaliser - Surridge firing a low shot across the United States international.

The hosts resumed with renewed purpose, Mahrez going close, but Bournemouth continued to threaten a disjointed defence on the counter-attack.

Surridge twice broke through - a combination of Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Eric Garcia, then a wildly sliding Steffen denying him.

Guardiola had seemingly seen enough and sent on De Bruyne and Sterling in place of holding midfielders Rodri and Tommy Doyle after the hour.

But it was Foden who decisively showed his poaching instincts 15 minutes from time.

Surridge could have sent the tie to penalties but glanced wastefully wide in the 87th minute.

Ferran Torres was primed for his full Manchester City debut on Thursday after he was named in a youthful line-up for the EFL Cup tie with Bournemouth.

City started their season with a 3-1 win over Wolves on Monday, with Torres – a £21.1million signing from Valencia – coming on as a late substitute for his maiden outing.

The winger was then handed his first start by Pep Guardiola against the Cherries, with a host of youngsters included in a much-changed starting XI.

Only Kyle Walker, Rodri and Phil Foden retained their places from the side which started at Molineux.

Adrian Bernabe and Liam Delap – son of former Stoke City long-throw specialist Rory – were also handed starts, while Eric Garcia, who has been linked with a move away from the club, and academy product Taylor Harwood-Bellis lined up in defence.

Tommy Doyle impressed in a handful of cup appearances last term, and he was named in midfield alongside Foden, with Riyad Mahrez given the nod out wide. There was also a debut for goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

Nathan Ake was on the bench against his former club, with stars Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne also in reserve for the holders.

Borussia Dortmund have signed 16-year-old forward Jamie Bynoe-Gittens from Manchester City on a long-term contract.

Sporting director Michael Zorc confirmed the arrival of the City academy player, who has been capped by England at Under-17 level, during a media conference on Thursday.

Bynoe-Gittens follows in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho, who was 17 when he left the Premier League giants for Dortmund in 2017.

Sancho departed City for a clearer path to first-team football and has become of the hottest properties in Europe after scoring 30 goals and setting up another 35 in 79 Bundesliga appearances.

"Jamie Bynoe-Gittens has joined us, and we are delighted to have him at in our youth set-up. He will initially play with the Under-19s," said Zorc.

"Our scouting department have done a fantastic job! He is a highly talented wide player, who will get the chance to develop at his own pace in our youth teams.

"We don't want expectations to be raised too high right from the start.

"He is still a year younger than Jadon was then … the hope is that at some point he will be promoted to the professional team."

Bynoe-Gittens becomes the third Englishman in Dortmund's ranks, alongside Sancho and 17-year-old playmaker Jude Bellingham.

Bayern Munich or Barcelona?

Two of the world's biggest clubs are going head-to-head for Ajax sensation Sergino Dest.

And the club from LaLiga are reportedly favourites to land the teenager.

 

TOP STORY – DEST WANTS BARCA

Ajax full-back Sergino Dest has pushed aside an offer from Bundesliga and Champions League holders Bayern Munich as he looks to join Barcelona, according to Sport.

Bayern and LaLiga giants Barca are both interested in the 19-year-old United States international.

But Dest has his heart set on Barca, where a principle agreement is reportedly in place between the player and Ajax.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham and Inter are in talks regarding centre-back Milan Skriniar, reports Sky Sport Italia. Skriniar is wanted by Jose Mourinho's Spurs but the Premier League club are unwilling to match Inter's £55million (€60m) valuation. Benfica's Ruben Dias remains a serious alternative.

- Diario AS claims Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez is wanted by Serie A trio Napoli, Roma and Milan.

- The same outlet also reports that Manchester United and Arsenal are two possible destinations for out-of-favour Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti. Former club Lyon, Rennes and Inter have also been linked.

Aston Villa are eyeing Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley on loan, according to the Telegraph. Barkley is down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

- Kicker says Barca and Roma have joined Paris Saint-Germain in looking at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who looks set to leave London.

Manchester City are still pursuing Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez, says the Daily Star. An alternative to Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, City's interest in Gimenez could be scuppered as the Uruguay international isolates and recovers from coronavirus.

- Despite already signing Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi, Le10 Sport claims David Beckham's Inter Miami remain keen on free agent Edinson Cavani. However, the former PSG forward is still hoping to remain in Europe.

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