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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Premier League champions Liverpool will emerge at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday to a guard of honour from previous title-holders Manchester City.

It will be the latest episode in the captivating rivalry between Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

We run the rule over two men whose tactical approaches and high levels of achievement have – and it does not feel too grandiose to suggest this – changed football in the 21st century, as well as one another.

THE BUNDESLIGA YEARS

Guardiola's arrival to take the reins of a treble-winning Bayern for 2013-14 came shortly after their rivalry with Klopp's Dortmund reached its peak.

Arjen Robben's 89th-minute winner saw Bayern down BVB 2-1 in the 2013 Champions League final at Wembley – a game played out against a backdrop of Dortmund's star playmaker Mario Gotze agreeing terms to move to Bavaria.

In hindsight, Klopp's gegenpressing machine – winners of back-to-back Bundesliga crowns in 2010-11 and 2011-12 – were coming off the top of their curve, having finished 25 points behind a relentless Bayern domestically that season.

The decline continued over the next two seasons. Dortmund were remarkably in relegation trouble halfway through 2014-15, before a post-Christmas recovery preceded Klopp's emotional farewell.

Nevertheless, there was still time for telling blows to be landed. Guardiola's first competitive game in charge saw Bayern beaten 4-2 in the 2013 DFL-Supercup at a delirious Signal Iduna Park.

Stung by that loss, Guardiola sprung a notable surprise in the first league encounter between the sides that November, where he broke Dortmund's rabid press by playing Javi Martinez as an attacking midfielder and repeatedly targeting the rangy Spain international with long balls.

The high priest of tiki-taka (a label Guardiola famously loathes) had presided over "more long balls than in the last three years combined" from a Bayern team, according to Klopp, who bristled after Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller added to Gotze's inevitable second-half opener in a 3-0 win.

A depleted Munich were similarly reactive when they won the DFB-Pokal final 2-0 in extra-time, even if flooding midfield numbers was a more recognisably Guardiola tactic.

Diverting from his dizzying 4-3-3 of swirling triangles has remained something the Catalan tactician has frequently done across his meetings with Klopp, and not always with the success he enjoyed in Germany.

HOLLOW VICTORIES AND THE PHONEY WAR

Klopp ended his homeland head-to-head against Guardiola with three victories, making it back-to-back Supercup triumphs in 2014, having claimed a 3-0 Bundesliga result at Allianz Arena earlier that year – the authority of which was dimmed by the fact Bayern had already cantered to the title.

Guardiola had four victories to his name, with one draw ultimately falling in Dortmund's favour as Bayern failed with all four of their penalty attempts in a 2015 DFB-Pokal semi-final shoot-out.

However, Klopp was denied a glorious farewell as his team lost in the final to Wolfsburg and the fact Robert Lewandowski had followed Gotze to Munich by this point underlined a deck stacked against him.

Liverpool came calling for Klopp in October 2015 and he helmed helter-skelter runs to the EFL Cup and Europa League finals. Manchester City and Sevilla prevailed respectively.

That was Manuel Pellegrini's final honour as City boss as he made way for Guardiola, who collected a third successive Bundesliga title in 2015-16. Thomas Tuchel's Dortmund finished closer in terms of position and points (second, 10 behind) than Klopp's version had managed when in direct competition.

With the stage presumably set for renewed hostilities between Guardiola and incoming Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, the similarly newly installed Antonio Conte did not read the script as Chelsea romped to 2016-17 Premier League glory.

Klopp got the better of his head-to-heads with City as a Georginio Wijnaldum goal sealed a 1-0 New Year's Eve win at Anfield before Sergio Aguero rescued a point for the hosts in the return game.

Guardiola laid it on thick after that 1-1 draw, declaring it to be "one of the most special days of my life".

"He is Spanish. They are a little bit more emotional than the Germans," Klopp chuckled in response.

TON-UP BUT NOT INVINCIBLE AND THE ROAD TO KIEV

Liverpool beat City three times in 2017-18, when most other teams could barely lay a glove on Guardiola's record-breaking side.

But the game where City prevailed, an unusual 5-0 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium where Liverpool subsided meekly after Sadio Mane's red card for clattering Ederson with a high boot, arguably had the biggest influence on the campaign.

When that game was 11 v 11, Guardiola's back three was horribly exposed. Aguero's opener arrived against the run of play, with an unusually wasteful Mohamed Salah having tormented Nicolas Otamendi.

City never used 3-5-2 in the league again that season, reverting to a swashbuckling 4-3-3 that churned out 19 consecutive wins and made the second half of the schedule a virtual procession.

Liverpool halted their designs on invincibility however, claiming a raucous 4-3 Anfield win in January. Klopp hailed "pressing from another planet" by his front three as Roberto Firmino, Mane and Salah were all on target in a euphoric nine-minute spell after half-time.

Guardiola had again seen a swift avalanche of goals bring the roof in during a big match and his tweak to a 4-4-2 diamond, eyeing avenues around those Liverpool pressing lanes, backfired in that season's Champions League quarter-final.

A 3-0 first-leg loss at Anfield, with all the goals arriving during the first half, left City with a mountain to climb and a death-or-glory approach in the return fixture – deploying a formation probably best described as 3-CHARGE!!! – eventually ran out of steam in a 2-1 loss.

But it was Liverpool who came up short in the Kiev final on Loris Karius' nightmare outing against Real Madrid, while City sauntered to a 100-point haul as dominant Premier League champions. Sitting 25 points back in fourth, the Reds had a considerable gap to bridge.

CHASING PERFECTION

Despite that deficit, their efforts in going blow-for-blow with City over 90-minute periods left the impression Liverpool were the best placed of the pretenders to overthrow the champions.

Both teams reconvened on Merseyside undefeated in October 2018 and remained that way as the free-flowing nature of recent meetings gave way to a cagey 0-0 draw.

Reprising the theme of those early Klassiker meetings, Guardiola took his foot off the throttle as City played at a controlled tempo – an approach that would have ended the club's Anfield hoodoo but for Riyad Mahrez's ballooned late penalty.

Fire and brimstone returned the following January, though, with a wobbling City recovering their poise and avoiding a 10-point deficit at the top. Aguero and Leroy Sane were on target either side of Firmino in a bravura display, where Aymeric Laporte took on the unfamiliar role of left-back to stifle Salah.

That was Liverpool's only loss of the season as they finished on 97 points, agonisingly one shy of City. However, their subsequent Champions League final win over Tottenham improbably propelled them further along.

Just as Guardiola has tempered some of his more cavalier tendencies when faced with Klopp, the challenge of an unrelenting City also forced the Liverpool boss into subtle and decisive tweaks.

In bringing in Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, he spent big for what many see as the finest goalkeeper and centre-back on the planet. Their very presence means risk can be reduced.

Heavy metal football has given way to a steady pulsing beat that never wavers. In the city of Merseybeat, Klopp has gone electro.

Amid their steamrollering of the opposition this season, Liverpool have 19 wins by a solitary goal in all competitions. They are frighteningly and ruthlessly clinical. A profligate City trail in their wake, although Guardiola has used this relative freedom from pressure to thumb intriguingly through his tactical playbook in 2020.

Both men have inspired the other to reach beyond their comfort zones and the result is the two best teams in world football. With Klopp contracted to Liverpool until 2024 and Guardiola talking up an extended stay, the thought occurs that they are each other's motivation for sticking around. There is nowhere better to measure their greatness than against one another.

Ilkay Gundogan believes the success of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp is down to their personalities.

The Germany midfielder was Guardiola's first signing in June 2016 when he joined City from Borussia Dortmund.

It was at Dortmund that Gundogan made his name and became a key player under Klopp, helping the club to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in the 2011-12 season.

With experience of playing under both managers the 29-year-old reckons they are both men with a great deal of character.

When asked what made the pair so special, Gundogan said: "That is a question that everybody asks me to be honest! Both are amazing managers, there is no doubt about that.

"If you are a great manager you have to have a great personality. This is something they definitely have in common.

"When it comes to the game they both focus on different things. Pep is maybe more about positions, dominating the ball while Jurgen is maybe more like winning the ball and trying to score goals as quick as possible with high intensity. 

"I just think they are great human beings and the football world should be grateful that we have these two personalities."

City's defeat to Chelsea last week saw Liverpool secure the Premier League title with seven games remaining, taking the trophy off Guardiola's side.

The two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday with City's players poised to give Liverpool a guard of honour before kick-off.

Gundogan acknowledged Klopp has played a pivotal role in Liverpool ending their 30-year wait for the league, and is thankful he has benefited from his compatriot's coaching skills as well as Guardiola's.

"I feel privileged to have worked with Jurgen but also to be with Pep now," added Gundogan.

"It was such an amazing time with Klopp at Dortmund and such a successful time as well, I learnt so much from him. 

"It is still also such a great time here at Manchester City with Pep. I appreciate every training session, every moment that I can enjoy the game. 

"I am grateful and thankful for both, because they taught me so much. I don’t think there is any player who has had the opportunity to work with both so I feel lucky."

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 recognises Manchester City "can't win all the time", but he is keen to take on his latest challenge and catch Liverpool next season.

After coming a close second to City last term, Liverpool have won the Premier League title for the first time in 2019-20, ending a 30-year wait for a 19th top-flight championship.

The Reds have done it in dominant fashion, too, with a 23-point gap between the new and former champions ahead of Thursday's clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola accepts Liverpool deserve their success, yet he will bid to respond next season after first using their midweek match as preparation for key FA Cup and Champions League fixtures.

"I had many challenges in my career, this is one more," Guardiola told reporters.

"Other people say I'm a big failure because I didn't win the Champions League here and with Bayern Munich, but the challenge is to work to compete like in the past - even if we didn't get the results we expected as a team for any circumstances we cannot control.

"We know the quality [Liverpool] have. It will be good for our game against Arsenal, Real Madrid; how is our position, our level in terms of playing key moments in tough competitions against good teams?

"We have to prepare for next season. Of course, we lost the Premier League with seven games left and more than 20 points, and the challenge was to win the league this season again.

"It didn't happen because we weren't as consistent as previous seasons. It was incredible consistency.

"But you look at what Liverpool have done and it's almost impossible. All you can do is accept it. You can't win all the time, do well all the time.

"I think for the football and society, it's good – they deserve it. We try to learn from our mistakes, like from what we have done with consistency in the past, and try to apply it next season.

"That's not to assure you that what we have done this season is to happen better next season or worse - the same as when we won the two Premier Leagues in a row.

"Every game, every time, it is to prove again who we are, so to live for the past is ridiculous.

"You may say I don't have to show anything. Yeah, you have to show it again and again to be part of big clubs or this business. Everyone has to do their best."

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.

Mikel Arteta spoke of his respect and admiration for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, whose advice he still seeks regularly.

Arteta worked under the tutelage of Guardiola as his assistant from July 2016 until departing to replace Unai Emery as Arsenal head coach last December.

Earlier this month, Arteta had an unhappy return to the Etihad Stadium as the Gunners were beaten 3-0 by City when the Premier League returned from its coronavirus hiatus.

He has a chance to avenge that defeat before the end of the campaign after the teams were drawn to face one another in the FA Cup semi-finals, with Arsenal overcoming Sheffield United and City defeating Newcastle United to make the last four.

Arteta recognises the challenge Arsenal face but acknowledges to win the biggest prizes Arsenal have to overcome the best teams.

"We have spoken a few times in recent weeks. Facing them again in the semi-final is a tricky one but look at the level of the teams who are involved in the competition," Arteta said. 

"If you want to win the title, you have to beat the best teams and if we want to do that we have to beat City."

Arteta may no longer work under Guardiola but says he is still able to seek his counsel.

"Yeah, he's a person that I have huge respect and admiration [for] and we talk about a lot of things," he added. 

"When I need advice or I want him to support me he's always there and willing to help me. For me it's great to have someone like him around."

Since leaving City for Arsenal, Arteta has sought to blood the youngsters within his squad.

Bukayo Saka has particularly flourished under Arteta, while big things are expected of academy prospect Folarin Balogun.

Both youngsters are out of contract in June 2021, with Saka linked to the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, while Southampton are said to be monitoring Balogun's situation.

But Arteta is confident of tying both players down to long-term contracts.

"I am not worried because I know that the club is doing their best to try to keep them," he added. 

"Hopefully we can have some good news about them very soon. They know my opinion on them and how much I like working with them, the intention that I have in the future with them. 

"I see them really committed and hopefully we can find the right agreement for both parties and move on, because I think there's a great future ahead of us with these kids."

Kevin De Bruyne has been backed to solve Manchester City's penalties problem after his spot-kick helped Pep Guardiola's team sink Newcastle United.

The Belgian drove home a first-half penalty, with Raheem Sterling wrapping up a 2-0 victory in the FA Cup quarter-finals when he fired home from outside the box in the second half.

City saw their reign as Premier League champions ended by Liverpool, and a poor spot-kick record did not help their cause, with Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan all failing from 12 yards this season.

De Bruyne showed precision with the penalty that gave City a memorable 2-1 at Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie back in February.

He was again entrusted with the job at St James' Park, sweeping the ball beyond Karl Darlow.

When asked about De Bruyne's penalty prowess, Guardiola said: "Hopefully he can maintain his level because we struggled without him this season. I think we've missed five or six penalties. Much too much.

"With different takers, we've struggled a lot. I remember many games where we dropped points and now Kevin takes the responsibility.

"We've scored three or four since we came back. It's important for us to have his confident personality and to try and continue to score those."

De Bruyne converted a penalty against Arsenal in City's first game back after the coronavirus stoppage, with Riyad Mahrez netting a spot-kick in the 5-0 win over Burnley.

Mahrez took responsibility that time as De Bruyne was a substitute, but when the former Wolfsburg player is involved, which will be in most if not all of City's crunch fixtures, the duty will be his.

Guardiola wants City to be faultless across all departments over the closing weeks of the season; despite Liverpool being confirmed as Premier League champions they still have a potential treble on the cards, having already won the EFL Cup.

An FA Cup semi-final against former Mikel Arteta's Arsenal awaits, while City will hope to go further in the Champions League. The second leg of the Madrid tie will be played on August 7 or 8, UEFA recently announced.

"We have spoken [with the players] after what happened in the Premier League," Guardiola said.

"We need two more victories to qualify for the [2020-21] Champions League mathematically and after lockdown, we said that two competitions are still on course.

"Now we make the first step, a semi-final and it will be good. It will be good to arrive for Madrid in the best physical condition to play these kinds of games. To reach the [FA Cup] final will be the best preparation, to win the title and to prepare [for the game] against Madrid."

Pep Guardiola acknowledged his Manchester City side is bound to show more focus in their quest for FA Cup and Champions League glory after seeing the defence of their Premier League title officially ended.

City's 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Thursday saw Liverpool crowned champions but they were in fine form during a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrated his 29th birthday by scoring a first-half penalty before Raheem Sterling put the finishing touch on a routine win after the break to book a last-four showdown with Arsenal.

It remains possible for City to complete an EFL Cup, FA Cup and Champions League treble this term, with Guardiola saying it is understandable his players' attentions are now on a return to Wembley as well as the last-16 return leg against Real Madrid in Europe's premier competition – a tie in which they lead 2-1.

"After the defeat in London against Chelsea, of course now in the Premier League we're struggling a little bit to focus," said Guardiola.

"We're playing for qualification to the Champions League, it's not done but we're close, we need two victories.

"But, of course, now the FA Cup and Champions League it's a little bit different for the fact we're playing at Wembley again, we were winners last season, we are in the semis again and that's so, so good. Then we prepare for the end of the season against Madrid."

On the game, Guardiola added: "First we are in the semi-final, it was not easy to attack against defenders so, so deep.

"It was a solid performance, we conceded few [chances]and we are happy to be going back to London to Wembley."

De Bruyne has become the designated penalty taker after City experienced a string of spot-kick woes this season.

The brilliant Belgium playmaker says it is a responsibility he is happy to shoulder.

"We had a few problems this year and I think the gaffer asked me to step up against Madrid," he said. 

"I've scored a couple now. If I'm the taker now I will try. Obviously there will be a day I miss, you have to take your responsibility, it if it's in it's good."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed his team will give Liverpool a guard of honour when they face the newly crowned Premier League champions at the Etihad Stadium next week.

City's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Thursday ended their two-year reign as champions, with Liverpool holding a now unassailable 23-point lead with seven games remaining.

The developing rivalry between City and Liverpool has featured moments of simmering tension over the recent seasons.

The visiting team bus was attacked with missiles before Liverpool recorded a resounding Champions League quarter-final win at Anfield in 2018, while the sides took last year's title race to the wire – Guardiola's men prevailing by 98 points to 97.

Yet the Catalan insisted it is only right that he and his players applaud their rivals, to pay respect to what Jurgen Klopp and his all-conquering squad have achieved.

"We are going to do the guard of honour, of course," he said.

"Always we receive Liverpool, when they came to our house, in an incredible way. They cannot complain.

"Of course we are going to do it because they deserve it."

Guardiola noted Liverpool's hunger to end a 30-year wait for a top-flight crown, saying they played every match as if it was "their last".

The ex-Barcelona boss is confident he knows why City came up well short in their bid for three in a row but balked at questions over the hunger of a team that has won six of the past eight major honours on offer in English football.

"I did not say [City played] without passion. Don't put words I didn't say," he said, bristling at the suggestion.

"I don't know the passion from Liverpool. I guess, I imagine what happened, when you are three-zero years without winning the Premier League, after winning the Champions League you are focused on that.

"But I didn't say this. Because a team that wins eight titles (including the 2018 and 2019 Community Shields) has passion. In every single game, every single competition. No one in this country can say that [City don't have passion].

"It is so difficult what we have done in the most difficult league by far in the world.

"In sport you have to live for the future, the next, but you have to have a little bit, one eye, on what we have done.

"Don't forget we are an incredible club and an incredible organisation. What we have to do is learn. I think we know the reason why we suffered this season and we're going to try to solve it next season."

Next up for City is a trip to Newcastle United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – one of two pieces of silverware they can add to this season's EFL Cup, with a long-awaited Champions League return against Real Madrid to come in August.

Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne established a 2-1 advantage over Zinedine Zidane's men at the Santiago Bernabeu back in February.

"Of course, we have a big challenge for these two titles," Guardiola added. 

"We fought for the Carabao Cup with the way we played and won the Community Shield against the champions of Europe.

"We are going to try at Newcastle to win and prepare for the last games of the Premier League, and arrive in the best conditions possible for Madrid."

Liverpool may have succeeded Manchester City as Premier League champions this week, yet Jurgen Klopp thinks Pep Guardiola remains the world's leading coach. 

City's 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Thursday confirmed it will be Klopp's Reds ending the 2019-20 campaign at the top of the table - the first time they have won English football's top flight in 30 years.

Guardiola's side had won the title with 100 and 98 points respectively in the previous two seasons, but this time around they find themselves 23 behind Klopp's runaway leaders having lost eight games - as many as ninth-placed Arsenal - in the Premier League.

Klopp's stock is growing as he added the Premier League trophy to the Champions League won by Liverpool last term, with former Barcelona boss Guardiola having so far come up short in Europe's premier club competition with both Bayern Munich and City.

However, Klopp still views his rival as he finest tactician around.

Asked if he must now be considered the world's greatest coach, Klopp told Bild: "I can't do anything with the title 'best coach in the world'.

"But I know that together with the whole trainer team we are very good coaches. But I think Pep Guardiola is the best coach of the world."

Prior to this season, Klopp had been the nearly man with Liverpool as he ended up on the losing side in the EFL Cup and Europa League finals in 2016, and the Champions League final two years later.

However, Klopp believes continuity has been key having seen Dortmund - a side that he took to back-to-back Bundesliga titles between 2010 and 2012 - finish seventh in his final campaign in charge after a number of his leading players departed.

"I didn't do much differently than before the lost finals in previous years," Klopp added.

"We made a lot of right decisions together. If I have a talent, it is probably that I can bring extremely good people together. For example, my coaching staff is exceptional, but there is no single recipe.

"It is also important that we have continued to develop. The problem in Dortmund was that our team fell apart. That didn't happen here and now the team has been exceptionally constant for two and a half years.

"We play every game as if it were the last one because we have nothing else to do on weekends."

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