Things seem to be moving quickly at Manchester United and Jadon Sancho could be on his way to Old Trafford.

Sancho, 20, has been heavily linked with a move to several Premier League giants this close season after starring for Borussia Dortmund.

And a switch to United appears to be close, latest reports indicate.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO PAY €120M FOR SANCHO

Borussia Dortmund expect Manchester United to pay £107.9million (€120m) for Sancho in instalments, according to Sport Bild.

Its report says the Bundesliga club are prepared to accept that as long as the offer is submitted by August 10.

Sancho scored 20 goals in 44 games in all competitions for Dortmund in 2019-20.

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- Staying at Manchester United and Alexis Sanchez is reportedly set for a permanent exit. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Inter and United have reached an agreement over Sanchez, saying he will make his move to the Serie A club permanent on a free, signing a three-year deal worth €7m per year.

- Barcelona are still looking to raise funds. Sport reports the LaLiga club's main transfer targets are Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia. Meanwhile, Sport also says Barca rejected a £54m (€60m) bid from a Premier League club for 20-year-old forward Francisco Trincao.

- While Manchester City are reportedly set to sign Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake, the Premier League giants are apparently still looking to strengthen elsewhere at the back. ESPN reports City are still interested in Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, as well as Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres.

- There remains uncertainty over Antonio Conte's future at Inter, according to reports. Fabrizio Romano says the head coach held a call with president Steven Zhang with a decision to be made after the Europa League.

- With Willian coming out of contract at Chelsea at the end of the season, the attacker is apparently attracting plenty of interest. France Football reports Arsenal have offered Willian the best deal with their three-year offer.

- Idrissa Gueye could be on his way out of Paris Saint-Germain after just one season. Le 10 Sport reports the Ligue 1 champions want to sell the midfielder, who has been linked to Manchester United and Wolves.

Frank Lampard has implored the Premier League to push back the start of the 2020-21 season for clubs still competing in Europe.

Lampard's Chelsea travel to face Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League on Saturday, albeit with limited hopes of reaching the quarter-finals as they face up to a 3-0 deficit from February's first leg.

Manchester City face Real Madrid 24 hours earlier at the Etihad Stadium, 2-1 to the good and with a more realistic tilt at playing in the final in Lisbon on August 23.

Manchester United and Wolves remain in the Europa League, which concludes on August 21 in Cologne.

Lampard, who will be without captain Cesar Azpilicueta and winger Christian Pulisic at Bayern after both sustained hamstring injuries during Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup final loss to Arsenal, believes the Premier League's stipulated start date of September 12 for next season is much too soon in that context.

"The players need to be given a break to play at the level of the quality product that the Premier League is," he said.

"Even in the worst-case scenario that we don’t go through against Bayern, the 12th feels too early for us to start playing again.

"The players need a break. That's why we're pulling two hamstrings and having players pulling out of the game before this.

"I would like to think the Premier League will look seriously at that and hopefully give us a fair start for next season.

"I think it's something we deserve for being a Premier League club competing in the Champions League."

Despite ending his first domestic campaign in charge of Chelsea on a dispiriting note, Lampard was keen to hail the season as a success on the whole, with the Blues securing Champions League qualification for next season despite being placed under a transfer embargo before the start of 2019-20.

"I'm delighted with the season and I've wanted to keep that within for the last week as I don't like to get too excited when there's a big game coming up," he said, despite accusing his team of "complacency" after failing to capitalise upon Pulisic's early opener at Wembley.

"But we have to reflect on a season going into it where people didn’t expect us to be in the top four. There were unknowns, the transfer ban, other clubs around us moving forward with recruitment when we couldn't.

"You can lose a final, we've lost a final and that's frustrating for us. But there's a bigger picture that we're working to and we've seen lots of good things.

"The players should be proud of how they've competed. The league position is a huge plus because, let's get it right, not many people gave us that chance at the start.

"Now we have to look to get better. [The FA Cup final] showed us there definitely is room to get better."

Any progress next term looks increasingly likely to take place without long-serving winger Willian.

The Brazil international is out of contract and has been linked with Arsenal, although Lampard is in the dark over his former team-mate's next move.

"I know the situation from the club's end, I've got a great relationship with Willian but I do not know what that decision is," he added.

"He's been brilliant for me this season but it is his choice and I respect his choice. He's been a great servant for Chelsea if he decides to move on."

N'Golo Kante and Willian are in contention for Chelsea's FA Cup final clash with Arsenal on Saturday, though Frank Lampard refused to be drawn on who will start in goal.

France international Kante has endured a frustrating season for the Blues, with numerous injury issues and fitness problems putting him on the sidelines.

The latest was a hamstring issue suffered early this month and he has not featured since, only returning to training prior to the final Premier League game of the season.

But the midfielder is in the squad for Saturday's showdown at Wembley, while Willian – absent from the win over Wolves last weekend with an unspecified problem – could also be involved.

Lampard did not have such good news regarding Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will not feature.

"Yes, N'Golo Kante and Willian are in the squad," Lampard said in Friday's pre-match news conference. "We will see if they're fit enough to be involved.

"But Ruben Loftus-Cheek has picked up a small problem and is out of the game."

Brazilian winger Willian has enjoyed a prominent season at Stamford Bridge, racking up nine goals and seven assists in the league and arguably rediscovering his best form despite uncertainty over his future.

The 31-year-old, whose current deal is set to expire at the end of the season, has reportedly rejected a new two-year contract at the club because he wants an extra season on top of that.

Since football resumed in June, Willian has scored three goals and set up another two and his attitude has not surprised Lampard.

When asked if he expected Willian's professionalism despite a somewhat awkward situation, Lampard said: "Yes, I've known Willian for many years as a player and I have coached him.

"If anyone wants to know the mentality of him, then that has been shown since restart. He has given everything. I would expect nothing less than he's shown already."

Where Lampard seemed most uncertain in terms of team selection ahead of Saturday was in goal – Kepa Arrizabalaga is the usual first-choice, but his form has been underwhelming, with Willy Caballero replacing the Spaniard against Wolves and a regular in cup competitions.

"It's difficult because we have competition in the squad," Lampard said. "I have changed it at times, we consider the games as we go – [for] big games, it becomes more difficult.

"I know how much players want to be in these games, but people off the bench have made a huge difference in recent games.

"It [leaving players out for a final] is difficult for me, difficult [for the players] to take, but players have to be positive."

Lampard and his counterpart Mikel Arteta will be aiming to win the first piece of silverware in their managerial careers on Saturday.

Barcelona are set to re-sign Ansu Fati until 2024, while Real Madrid are eyeing "the new Raphael Varane".

Fati, 17, has been linked with a stunning move to Manchester United after a breakthrough season at Barca.

But the teenage forward seems to be going nowhere.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TO EXTEND FATI STAY UNTIL 2024

Barcelona are set to renew Fati's contract until 2024, according to the cover of Sport.

Out of contract in 2022, Fati has scored eight goals in 32 games this season, leading to links to Manchester United.

Sport also reports Barcelona are prepared to listen to offers for attacker Ousmane Dembele.

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- Are Real Madrid looking to sign a new defender? AS reports the LaLiga giants are closely following Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile, who it compares to Madrid star Raphael Varane.

- Raul Jimenez could be set for a Wolves exit. RTP Sport says Jimenez is on his way to Manchester United and Wolves are on the verge of signing Sporting Braga striker Paulinho as his replacement.

- Barcelona may be preparing to strengthen their defence. Mundo Deportivo claims three defenders – Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Paris Saint-Germain's Juan Bernat and Manchester City's Eric Garcia – are within range for the LaLiga giants.

- Tanguy Ndombele continues to be linked with a move away from Tottenham. Sky Sport reports Inter have made contact with Spurs about the midfielder.

- Where to next for Willian? Coming out of contract at Chelsea at season's end, the attacker's future is uncertain. Sky Sports says Chelsea, Barcelona and Inter Miami have made contract offers to the Brazil international.

- A player looking likely to leave Stamford Bridge is Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Sun reports the goalkeeper fears he has played his last game for Chelsea.

- After Dejan Lovren's departure, Liverpool continue to be linked with defenders. COPE reports the Premier League champions have made an offer of £9.1million (€10m) for Real Betis defender Aissa Mandi.

Willian has received concrete offers from five teams including two in the Premier League, according to the Chelsea winger's agent.

Willian's contract expires at the end of the season and the Brazil international has been unable to reach an agreement over an extension.

Arsenal are among the sides rumoured to be interested, with the player said to be keen to stay in London.

There has been speculation Willian has changed his mind about holding out for a three-year deal and would now be prepared to sign a two-year extension at Stamford Bridge.

However, Kia Joorabchian says there has been no such change in his thinking and two clubs from England, two from elsewhere in Europe and one from MLS want to sign the 31-year-old,

"I don't think he's done a U-turn or any kind of turn," Joorabchian told talkSPORT. "He's always been very much [in] the same mode.

"We had two very big offers – one from MLS, which required him to move on July 1 – but he's always been in the same mode, saying, 'I want to finish the season at Chelsea and the day after the season has finished I will make my decision'.

"He has two concrete offers from Premier League clubs on the table, he has an MLS offer on the table, which is very big, and he's got two other offers in Europe.

"So, Willian is in a very good position and he is going to make his decision after the last game of the season."

Chelsea face Arsenal in the FA Cup final on August 1, with their final game of 2019-20 likely to be the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich, unless they can overturn a 3-0 deficit at the Allianz Arena.

Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern from Barcelona, is another of Joorabchian's clients whose future is uncertain, although it appears a move back to England could be on the cards.

"After the Champions League, it's not been a secret that he wants to come back to the Premier League if he can; he loves playing in the Premier League and is adored in the Premier League," he said.

"It is one of his priorities… but he is also not against staying at Barcelona, so it is very much open.

"There is much genuine interest in Philippe because he is a great player and a big success. There is always interest."

Juventus could be getting closer to landing Arkadiusz Milik, while Arthur may have played his last game for Barcelona.

After winning a ninth straight Serie A title, Juve are linked with several forwards.

They may have taken a step closer to bringing one in.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS AGREE TERMS WITH MILIK

Juventus have agreed preliminary terms with Napoli forward Milik, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

However, the report says Juve are yet to reach an agreement with Napoli, who are said to have expressed an interest in Federico Bernardeschi.

Milik, 26, has scored 14 goals in 33 games in all competitions for Napoli this season.

 

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- One player heading to Juventus is Arthur. The midfielder was expected to finish the season with Barcelona, but Sport reports the Brazil international does not want to play for the LaLiga giants – who are still in the Champions League – again and wants to join Juve at the end of August.

- Manchester City are seemingly getting closer to signing Valencia attacker Ferran Torres. Goal and SPOX report Torres has agreed to a five-year deal with City, but the clubs are yet to agree to a fee.

- Coming out of contract at season's end, Willian was expected to leave Chelsea. However, Sky Sports reports the winger could agree to a new deal with Chelsea before the end of the week after a breakthrough was found.

- Chris Smalling's future remains uncertain. CalcioMercato reports Manchester United want €20million (£18.3m) from Roma for the defender, who has been on loan at the Serie A club. Tottenham are also reportedly interested in Smalling.

- Arsenal are seemingly still trying to sign Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey. Get French Football News reports Arsenal attempted to include Matteo Guendouzi in a part-exchange deal for Partey, but the offer was rejected.

- Bayern Munich could be set to make a surprise signing. Sky Sport Austria reports the Bundesliga champions are interested in Norwich City right-back Max Aarons.

- Wilfried Zaha looks likely to be at the centre of transfer speculation once again. The Mirror reports Crystal Palace are set to listen to offers for the attacker, with Everton said to be interested.

What does the future hold for PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar?

Real Madrid have made no secret of their admiration for Mbappe, while Barcelona have tried to re-sign Neymar.

As PSG prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, the Ligue 1 holders have made some transfer decisions.

 

TOP STORY – PSG KEEPING MBAPPE, MAKE NEYMAR DECISION

Paris Saint-Germain will not sell Kylian Mbappe ahead of the 2020-21 season but Neymar's future remains uncertain, according to L'Equipe.

Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid in the future, however, Ligue 1 champions PSG have no intention of parting with the France international before next season.

But Neymar – continually linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving in a world-record transfer in 2017 – could leave as PSG look to avoid losing the Brazilian star on a free transfer in 2022.

 

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Chelsea are preparing their first offer for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz. Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Chelsea will make a £62million (€70m) bid plus add-ons for Havertz amid interest from Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barca. To fund the transfer, Chelsea will look to sell Inter target Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Jorginho, who would like to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.

Luke Shaw could be sacrificed as United look to sign Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, claims the Mirror. United have reportedly leapfrogged Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for full-back Chilwell.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are interested in Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has also been linked to Madrid.

Willian has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami, reports the Telegraph. Willian's Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked to Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

- Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is wanted by Russian champions Zenit, according to the Evening Standard.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are not the only club eyeing Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo. Jose Mourinho reportedly wants the Italy international at Tottenham, while Madrid and United are also believed to be interested.

- The Express claims Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of United goalkeeper and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson. Chelsea are ready to ask Manchester United for a price as Kepa Arrizabalaga struggles in London.

Chelsea climbed to third place in the Premier League with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Tuesday.

Frank Lampard's Champions League hopefuls surged ahead with goals from Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic, before Wilfried Zaha hit back in stunning fashion.

Giroud's opener came after just six minutes as the visitors capitalised on the misfortune of former Chelsea player Gary Cahill.

The in-form Pulisic doubled the Blues' lead in emphatic style before the half-hour mark, but Zaha's wonder-strike kept the away side on their toes.

Tammy Abraham's cool 71st-minute finish was followed promptly by a Christian Benteke tap-in, but Roy Hodgson's men were still condemned to a fourth straight defeat after Scott Dann was denied by the post at the death.

Chelsea broke the deadlock when Cahill appeared to pull a hamstring chasing Reece James' ball in behind, allowing Willian time and space to pick out Giroud to steer home from close range.

With Cahill off injured, Palace's day went from bad to worse when Pulisic lashed in from 12 yards, with Willian again providing the assist. 

The lively Willian went close to a grabbing a goal of his own, but Vicente Guaita proved equal to the Brazilian's side-footed effort.

Palace sprung into action in a spectacular manner soon after, Zaha arrowing a glorious strike beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga from 30 yards.

Abraham's precise finish from Ruben Loftus-Cheek's neat pass appeared to put the game to bed but Chelsea switched off and Patrick van Aanholt laid on an unmissable chance for Benteke barely a minute later.

However, Palace were unable to complete the comeback, with Dann's header hitting the upright deep into stoppage time as Chelsea, beaten 3-2 in their previous away game at West Ham, reversed that scoreline this time.

What does it mean? Chelsea hunting Foxes

It is tight in the battle for a top-four finish, with Chelsea putting five points between themselves and fifth-placed Manchester United. They also edged ahead of Leicester City and into third ahead of the Foxes' clash with Arsenal. Palace, meanwhile, stay 14th.

Willian the key to unlock Palace

Willian, who had two assists, has now been involved in five goals since the resumption of the Premier League campaign, only behind Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (six) as the division's most productive player in that time frame. He created a game-high five chances.

A reunion to forget for Cahill

Cahill won two top-flight titles and the Champions League with Chelsea, but this reunion with his old club will not make the scrap book. He was not to blame for the opener, as pure bad luck saw him struck by injury at exactly the wrong moment.

What's next?

Chelsea head to Sheffield United on Saturday, with Palace taking on struggling Aston Villa on the road the next day.

Willian was on target again as Chelsea beat struggling Watford 3-0 at Stamford Bridge to move back into fourth place in the Premier League. 

The Blues suffered a midweek defeat at West Ham and slipped out of the Champions League positions when Manchester United hammered Bournemouth on Saturday. 

Chelsea responded later in the day, Olivier Giroud marking his return to the starting line-up with the opener before Willian scored his sixth goal in his last seven games from the penalty spot late in the first half. 

Ross Barkley added a third in stoppage time as Frank Lampard's side moved two points clear of United, and just one behind third-place Leicester City, a year to the day since the former England international was appointed. 

Watford are just one point and a place above the relegation zone with five matches to play.

Willian fired straight at Ben Foster with Chelsea's first sight of goal and the Watford goalkeeper kept out a Giroud effort before the France striker opened the scoring after 28 minutes.  

The impressive Barkley was the architect, his clever reverse pass giving the former Arsenal frontman the chance to drill into the far corner with his left foot from 10 yards out.  

Chelsea looked increasingly dangerous and were two up just before the break, Willian sending Foster the wrong way after Etienne Capoue needlessly upended the lively Christian Pulisic. 

The busy Foster again denied Giroud after the break, while he also tipped a measured Willian shot around the post as Lampard's men remained on the front foot. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga produced an agile stop to prevent Danny Welbeck from halving the deficit as Watford showed more of a threat, but Barkley rifled home his first league since October 2018 after Pulisic had been denied a penalty as Chelsea cruised to victory. 


What does it mean? Chelsea back on track, Hornets remain in the mire 

After a setback at the London Stadium, Chelsea provided just the response Lampard would have been looking for. 

They had too much quality for a Watford team that were unable to contain the Blues, who caused the strugglers all sorts of problems as they fizzed the ball around on a slick surface with a swagger. 

Pulisic goes from strength to strength 

Pulisic was a constant menace to Nigel Pearson's side, drifting into pockets of space and gliding away from defenders with great skill and pace in another eye-catching performance. The big-money signing from Borussia Dortmund took time to settle in English football but he now looks very much at home. 

Outing to forget for Capoue  

Midfielder Capoue most definitely did not have the impact Pearson would have had in mind, going into the book before conceding the penalty and being hauled off early in the second half. 

What's next? 

Chelsea face a short trip to Selhurst Park for a London derby with Crystal Palace on Tuesday, while the Hornets host bottom side Norwich City on the same day. 

Willian has done enough to earn a new contract at Chelsea, according to head coach Frank Lampard.

Experienced winger Willian agreed to remain with the Blues until the end of the Premier League campaign, with his deal having been due to expire last week.

The Brazil international, who turns 32 in August, has scored three times and set one up in his four appearances since the season resumed following its three-month suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lampard remains hopeful Chelsea can reach a resolution with Willian to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

"I haven't given up hope on it, the club are still in discussions with him," said Lampard.

"We want him to stay at the club but I also appreciate the fact this contract for Willian is a big deal because of his age and where he's at, I've been there before myself and I respect that.

"But the way he's playing at the minute I think shows his worth to the squad and the group. It's something I hope we can get to.

"Whatever way [it goes] with Willian, he's been a great servant to the club and if we can get it I'll be happy, if not I'll wish him well because I've got a lot of time for him as a player and in the short term we can see what he's doing for us. It's ongoing is the short answer."

Saturday's meeting with Watford will mark a year since Lampard took over Chelsea amid a transfer embargo and with Eden Hazard having departed for Real Madrid.

The fourth-placed Blues are on course to qualify for the Champions League, which Lampard feels would be a significant feat given the circumstances.

However, he acknowledged they will be expected to kick on next season.

"I don't want to measure ourselves against other clubs, we all have our own issues. The expectation [was low] at the start of the season – and quite rightly, even myself I'm a realist and coming in knowing we'd lost Eden and the input he had individually at the club alone was huge and how do we work around that," said Lampard.

"I think we've found good ways to work around it with development of the youth, the performances of some of the senior players, the way we're trying to play.

"We're nowhere near the finished article but [with] some of the style of play stuff we've found really good levels at times.

"We're going up against two of the best club teams in the world [next season] … so we may find that the curve looks slightly different. We have to fight against that and try to close the gap as quickly as we can, in whatever way we can.

"I'm pretty pleased and I'm always a perfectionist and want more, but it means nothing if we don't finish off the season well.

"So these next games until the end of the season are huge for us to try to say we're pleased at the end of the season, because if we get in the Champions League spots of course I'll be very, very pleased."

Willian lamented Chelsea's 3-2 loss to West Ham and acknowledged the importance of bouncing back with victory against Watford on Saturday.

The Brazil forward scored a penalty and a free-kick either side of goals from Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio in Wednesday's Premier League clash, but it was not enough for Chelsea.

Andriy Yarmolenko snatched a late winner for West Ham at London Stadium on Wednesday, denying their opponents the chance to overtake Leicester City in third.

Willian, who is due to become a free agent at the end of the elongated campaign, admitted the defeat - Chelsea's first in seven matches in all competitions - was tough to take.

"It is very disappointing," he told Chelsea's official website. "The plan was to win the game and we missed a chance to go third. 

"At least we have a game on Saturday to win at home. It's not a time to complain. We have to win on Saturday.

"We have to play every game as a final, and fight to get into the Champions League places.

"We deserve to finish in the top four. Sometimes we have gone up and down, but I think we deserve to be there and we have to keep that position."

In opening the scoring against West Ham with a 42nd-minute penalty, Willian became the first player in Premier League history to score in every month of the year.

"I didn't know about that! I'm happy with the goals, but when we've lost it's a bit difficult," he said. 

"I feel very disappointed. Now it's time to rest well, recover well, and fight for the three points on Saturday."

Chelsea are two points better off than Manchester United and Wolves in fifth and sixth respectively with six games to go.

Willian claimed a unique Premier League record on Wednesday when the Chelsea forward became the first player to score a Premier League goal in all 12 months.

The Brazilian converted a first-half penalty against West Ham to give Frank Lampard's side a 1-0 lead at London Stadium.

It was the 31-year-old's 35th Premier League goal, and his first in July as he completed the set of scoring in each calendar month having netted against Manchester City last time out on June 25.

The Premier League season typically runs from August until May, but the 2019-20 campaign only resumed in June following a three-month break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic.

He later took his Premier League tally to 36 with a stunning free-kick that levelled matters at 2-2 following a West Ham turnaround.

Willian, who joined Chelsea in 2013, will be out of contract at Stamford Bridge when the season finishes.

Liverpool are Premier League champions after Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Pep Guardiola's side had the chance to prolong the Reds' 30-year wait at least until the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium next week, but the title was within touching distance when Christian Pulisic gave Frank Lampard's side a 36th-minute lead.

Kevin De Bruyne's spectacular free-kick brought City level and Raheem Sterling hit the post, but their vulnerability on the break was eventually punished when Fernandinho handled in a desperate 75th-minute goalmouth scramble.

The veteran Brazil international was sent off and his countryman Willian sealed the points and crowned Jurgen Klopp's dominant league winners.

Kepa Arrizabalaga acrobatically pushed Fernandinho's header from Riyad Mahrez's free-kick over the crossbar amid a controlled opening half-hour from City.

Ederson saved well from Pulisic and Andreas Christensen in quick succession at the other end, and he merited better protection when Chelsea took the lead.

Poor communication between Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy and the latter's botched recovery tackle that left Pulisic in the clear to finish coolly.

There was questionable wisdom in Mendy seeking to atone for his errors by shooting frequently from distance early in the second half.

In the 55th minute, De Bruyne added finesse to that tactic with a sumptuous dipping free-kick after N'Golo Kante clumsily fouled Mahrez.

A one-touch counter-attack then ended with Sterling dinking against the post, with Chelsea's efforts noticeably more laboured.

Ederson launched that attack but a poor pass out was almost punished as Mason Mount thumped into the side netting.

City's slick dominance of the ball but creaky defence lent an intriguing balance to the final quarter of the contest – Sterling curling agonisingly wide before Kyle Walker somehow got back to improbably deny Pulisic a second on the goal line.

Fernandinho was unable to be so precise when denying Tammy Abraham, leaving Willian to send Ederson the wrong way and prompt celebrations on Merseyside.

 

What does it mean: Chelsea take important step towards the Champions League

Although most of the focus was understandable on the main consequence of this Chelsea victory, it was a huge three points for the Stamford Bridge side. Their five-point advantage over a resurgent Manchester United in fifth is restored, while a wobbling Leicester City are now just a point better off with seven matches remaining.

De Bruyne shows his class once again

It feels like a trick of the mind that City won a thrilling title battle last season with De Bruyne reduced to a bit-part role by two medial knee ligament injuries. He has performed at a level above his colleagues this time around, with his free-kick here another champagne moment that adds weight to his case for end-of-season honours.

Mendy's moment to forget

In the build-up to this match, Mendy spoke of how this was his "time" and how he wanted to show people "the real Mendy" following his injury nightmare. Presumably, the slapstick version on display for Chelsea's opener was not what he had in mind. Guardiola needs a more reliable left-back next season, in terms of both form and fitness.

What's next?

Liverpool will emerge at the Etihad Stadium as champions, with the main bit of pre-match intrigue now set to revolve around whether a guard of honour is workable in the age of social distancing. Before that, City and Chelsea have away FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday at Newcastle United and Leicester respectively.

Frank Lampard confirmed Chelsea have not made any bids for Kai Havertz so far but did reveal the club remain in talks with Willian over his future. 

Chelsea have already strengthened for next season by recruiting Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner from Ajax and RB Leipzig respectively, though their spending may not be finished there. 

As well as rumours of a move for Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, media reports have suggested the Blues are set to raid the Bundesliga again, this time to sign Havertz.

While willing to admit the Germany international is a "top player", Lampard denied Chelsea have made an offer to Bayer Leverkusen.

"He's obviously a top player but we're certainly not going to comment on other players of other teams and it cannot be our focus. No bids have gone in," the Chelsea boss told the media ahead of Thursday's Premier League clash with Manchester City. 

"We have the games that we need to complete before the window opens so that's something we'll broach when it comes round. At the minute our only focus can be on the games in hand."

Lampard was more forthcoming over Willian, who has agreed to stay at Stamford Bridge for the remainder of the campaign. 

The Brazil international joined Pedro in signing a short-term extension and there remains the possibility the former could stick around beyond the next few weeks. 

"We're still talking with the players and Willian in particular. We're talking with him," Lampard revealed. 

"It was hard for me to comment too much, obviously we announced yesterday [the deals], but I always felt confident that they would remain. They've been fantastic professionals for the club and servants in all senses. 

"When you have that level of professionalism within you, I think it was a sign that they wanted to stay and see out this season at least. 

"We'll carry on talking and see, but I think everybody's focus now is on these next games, the individuals themselves and obviously us as a club." 

Lampard said negotiations with both Willian and Pedro – who is rumoured to be joining Roma once his contract expires – were straightforward, providing him with much-needed squad depth for the crucial run-in.

Chelsea are aiming to clinch a top-four finish in the Premier League and also have an FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City coming up this weekend. 

"I'm pleased, negotiations were relatively easy because both sides wanted the same thing," Lampard said. "Both players wanted to make sure they could see the season out with us. 

"At this point, we need them in the squad they're both important players for us so I'm happy." 

Willian and Pedro have extended their Chelsea contracts through to the end of the 2019-20 season.

The veteran wingers had both been set to see their deals expire on June 30, but the delay to the campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic will see matches continue beyond that date.

Players have been given the option to commit for the remaining games or to depart the club at the end of the month as scheduled.

But both Willian and Pedro will see out the season as Chelsea look to clinch Champions League qualification.

Frank Lampard's side are fourth, while they have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals, although their Champions League campaign for this term appears set to end after a 3-0 last-16 first-leg defeat to Bayern Munich.

Willian has been a key figure under Lampard, scoring five times in 29 Premier League games, despite links to London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

Pedro has played just nine times in the league this season but will stick with Chelsea until the campaign concludes, at which point he will reportedly sign for Roma.

The World Cup winner joined Chelsea from Barcelona in 2015, two years after Willian arrived from Anzhi.

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