Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has confidence that Bernardo Silva will remain at the club, though he vowed not to keep any unhappy players.

Portugal international Silva has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona after a five-year stint at the Etihad Stadium, with Xavi keen on landing the 27-year-old.

Silva was said to have made his feelings on wanting to leave City clear last year, but the former Monaco playmaker stayed and played a key role as Guardiola's team went on to win the Premier League for a fourth time in five seasons.

However, Guardiola has poured cold water on the speculation that Silva will move before the start of the 2022-23 season when speaking following the announcement of City's pre-season friendly against his former club Barca.

"I think Bernardo Silva will stay with us, that’s my feeling as of today," he told a news conference.

"We don’t know what will happen in the transfer window and we have always said that we want players that want to be in our club.

"But we really appreciate Bernardo and count on him for next season."

City have brought in Erling Haaland already this transfer window, while they reportedly want to sign Brighton and Hove Albion left-back Marc Cucurella and Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

However, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus are both reportedly interested in leaving, with Chelsea and Arsenal the respective frontrunners.

The match between City and Barca will take place on August 24 in a charity game to raise funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) awareness and is in honour of former Barcelona player and assistant coach Juan Carlos Unzue.

It will fall between City's Premier League fixtures against Newcastle United and Crystal Palace.

Bernardo Silva did not rule out a move to Barcelona after pulling the strings for Portugal in a Nations League win over the Czech Republic.

The Manchester City midfielder has three years left on his contract with the Premier League champions, but Barca boss Xavi is reportedly keen to lure him to Camp Nou.

City boss Pep Guardiola this week cast doubt over whether Barca can afford the likes or Robert Lewandowski and Silva almost a year after they lost Lionel Messi due to a financial crisis at the club.

A move to Manchester United for Frenkie de Jong could put the Blaugrana in a position to make a move for Silva.

The 27-year-old Silva set up both goals in Portugal's 2-0 Nations League win over the Czech Republic at Estadio Jose Alvalade before being asked about a potential move to LaLiga.

He said: "If Barcelona seduces me? Unfortunately, right now I can't say anything. I'm with the national team and very focused. When the season is over, we'll see what happens."

Portugal boss Fernando Santos lavished praise on Silva after an influential display on Thursday.

"When he's at his best, I'm sure he's among the top 10 in the world," he said. 

"When you talk about these issues, the one who scores a lot of goals has more visibility, but technically he is among the top 10 players in the world."

Irrespective of the result, a lingering sense of change accompanied Liverpool's Champions League final appearance.

Reports on Sadio Mane's departure and Mohamed Salah's reticence over a new deal follow Roberto Firmino's status on the periphery this season.

Following Luis Diaz's arrival in January, it appears another South American star is set to land at Anfield via Portugal.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL AGREE TERMS WITH DARWIN NUNEZ

Liverpool have reached an agreement on personal terms with Benfica striker Darwin Nunez, according to the Athletic.

While reports suggest nothing has yet been signed and no agreement between the clubs is in place, they are closer to finalising the deal.

Discussions are ongoing with regards to the structure of the deal, but it is understood any deal will break the £85.5million (€100m) mark.

Jurgen Klopp is said to be an admirer of the 22-year-old, with the club looking to act in the event of Sadio Mane's reported departure for Bayern Munich.

Fernando Santos acknowledged there is still plenty of work for Portugal to do to finish above Spain in their Nations League group but is content with the fact his side are sitting pretty atop the pool.

Portugal, who won the inaugural tournament in 2019, moved two points clear at the top of Group A2 with a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in Lisbon on Thursday.

Spain leapfrogged the Czech Republic into second place courtesy of a 1-0 victory over bottom-placed and pointless Switzerland, coming on the back of successive draws.

The two heavyweights drew 1-1 last week and are due to meet again in the final round of fixtures, but Portugal must first travel to Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

And with only half of the campaign played, Santos is not taking anything for granted at this stage.

"We are first, which is always good," he told Portuguese television station RTP3. "But the other teams in our group also want to win. There are still three games to go.

"Spain also won today and we are now two points ahead. Naturally the group is still open. It will also be resolved in the final games in September, not now."

Portugal were good value for their victory at Estadio Jose Alvalade, where first-half goals from Joao Cancelo and Goncalo Guedes proved enough.

The Selecao had five shots on target to the visitors' one and ended with an expected goals (xG) value of 1.34 to 0.71.

 

While the margin of victory could have been even greater, Guedes was pleased with Portugal's ninth win in their past 11 matches since exiting Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage.

"We played a great game, especially in the first half," he said. "We tried to take advantage of the spaces and circulate the ball, which we managed to do.

"In the second half we tired more, but they're a good team and tried to cancel us out. We wanted more goals but couldn't find them.

"This was still an important victory and a great game on our part. We want to finish first and advance as far as possible in the competition, which we can do with victories."

Bernardo Silva set up both of Portugal's goals and now has three assists this Nations League campaign, which is more than any other player.

He created four big chances in total, while only Cancelo (three) completed more dribbles than Silva's two, despite being taken off 22 minutes from time.

Explaining that substitution, and his selection plans against Switzerland on Sunday, Santos told Sport TV: "Players start to feel tired – that's natural.

"He was very influential for us again today. But he used up his batteries early, and when that happens he could no fulfil his other roles.

"As for the team against Switzerland, you'll have to see."

Portugal moved two points clear at the top of Nations League Group A2 with a 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic in Lisbon on Thursday.

The two sides entered the contest at Estadio Jose Alvalade level on four points apiece after two rounds of fixtures, and it was Portugal who took control at the summit.

Joao Cancelo blasted the home side in front from a tight angle and Goncalo Guedes added a second before half-time, with both goals assisted by Bernardo Silva.

The Czech Republic were unable to find a route back into the contest as they were leapfrogged by Spain – 1-0 winners over Switzerland – in second place.

Portugal had to see out a spell of early pressure, with Michal Sadilek volleying over from a good position, before taking a 33rd-minute lead.

Cancelo, who rounded off the scoring in Portugal's 4-0 win over Switzerland last weekend, took a pass from Silva in his stride and fired past Jindrich Stanek into the far corner.

Silva played in Guedes for Portugal's second, the Valencia winger picking his spot beyond Stanek to leave the Czech Republic with a mountain to climb with 38 minutes played.

Diogo Jota was denied by Stanek as Portugal attempted to extend their lead further and Guedes had a strong penalty appeal rejected when challenged by Sadilek in the box.

Cristiano Ronaldo was also thwarted by the opposition keeper, while Adam Vlkanova missed a big chance at the other end after a mix-up, but Portugal comfortably saw out the win.

Pep Guardiola cannot foresee Bayern Munich letting Robert Lewandowski leave nor Barcelona having the financial power to sign the striker.

Lewandowski is contracted to Bayern until the end of next season, but he is attempting to engineer a move to Camp Nou a year earlier amid interest from the Catalan giants.

The Poland captain declared his story was over at Bayern at the end of May, as disputes over contract proposals between his agent and the Bundesliga champions continued.

While Lewandowski appears intent on joining Xavi's side, there remain questions as to the finances behind a deal, with LaLiga boss Javier Tebas stating Barca cannot afford the 33-year-old unless they sell at least one prized asset.

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta hit back at Tebas' comments, but Barca's economic vice president Eduard Romeu admitted the club must sell players before they would be in a position to land Lewandowski.

Manchester City boss and Blaugrana legend Guardiola, speaking at the Legends Golf Trophy event in Mallorca, expressed his doubts over whether Lewandowski will move to Spain.

"It seems that they have it difficult," he said on Monday. "His career speaks for itself. We are talking about Lewandowski, he adapts to any place.

"But I don't know, I don't know if the economic situation can allow him to join, I don't know if Bayern will let him go. I already have other problems!"

 

Guardiola guided City to their fourth Premier League title in five seasons last month and his side will be bolstered by the imminent arrival of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

It has been reported Bernardo Silva is a target of Barca should Frenkie de Jong leave for Manchester United.

Guardiola would only comment on Barca's financial situation, though, as he detailed his hopes that the Blaugrana will return as a dominant force in his homeland.

"Looks like they're having it tough," he said when asked of Silva. "I hope everything goes well for them but with the situation they have they cannot do great things.

"There are moments in history, everyone has to accept it when the situation is the way it is and sometimes going with low expectations will help you to rise very quickly.

"The expectations can be low because of the situation not because of the lack of quality of the coaches, the players or the board of directors. 

"The perception I have is good, but you have to go calmly. Everyone knows that if the situation isn't good you can't make big signings. You have to think about winning the next game."

Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to inspire Manchester City to the win that secured the Premier League title on Sunday, but spare a thought for Bernardo Silva.

Gundogan came on in the 68th minute, just before Philippe Coutinho made it 2-0 to Aston Villa, as it looked like City would let the title slip from their grasp.

But in scenes comparable to their incredible win over QPR on the final day of the 2011-12 season, City scored three goals in the space of five minutes and 37 seconds to turn the game on its head.

Gundogan scored twice, either side of Rodri's equaliser, to seal his name in City folklore.

It was Silva who made way for Gundogan and, while celebrating his first Premier League title in style, it would seem a rather jolly Jack Grealish could not resist having a friendly jibe at his team-mate.

Having taken the microphone from Kyle Walker, who had been busy eulogising about John Stones, Grealish said on City's official live stream of the open-top bus parade through Manchester: "Do you know what, I said earlier on the coach, it's been brilliant to win my first title.

"I want to thank everyone, but the main person I want to thank is Bernardo Silva for coming off in the 70th minute, because he was miles off it yesterday!"

Grealish seemed intent on being the life of the party, also quipping that Pep Guardiola had signed him because he is the only player capable of beating Walker in a one-v-one, though the England international is probably fortunate that City do not have training to focus on any time soon. He may just have a sore head come Tuesday morning.

Carlo Ancelotti appeared to feign ignorance when asked about reports that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is set to sign for Real Madrid. 

Thomas Tuchel revealed at the weekend that Rudiger had informed him of his desire to leave Stamford Bridge when his contract expires at the end of the season. 

The Germany international will reportedly finalise a deal to join Madrid this week. 

Asked about Rudiger by beIN SPORTS after Madrid's 4-3 Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday, Ancelotti replied with a smile: "Toni? Who is this? 

"He's a Chelsea player until... He's still a Chelsea player and I cannot say anything about this." 

Ancelotti highlighted Madrid's defending as a key factor in their loss to City. 

Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus found the back of the net inside 11 minutes at the Etihad Stadium – the earliest Madrid have conceded twice in a single Champions League game. 

Karim Benzema pulled one back on his 600th appearance for the club and Vinicius Junior found the back of the net after Phil Foden nodded in a cross from Fernandinho in the second half. 

Bernardo Silva restored City's two-goal cushion before Benzema gave Madrid a sliver of additional hope with an audacious Panenka following a handball in the box by Aymeric Laporte. 

"You cannot cover a position with four defenders, You have to help with a midfielder," said Ancelotti. 

"There were losses in individual duels, so we have to be more attentive. With the ball, we had opportunities. We suffered a bit without it, though. But we have to have confidence. 

"We came out of the first leg with a result that isn't good, because we've conceded four goals and not defended well. 

"We hurt City with the ball, but what we have to do is defend better. The result can change in the second leg. They're a very strong team – they showed it tonight – but we competed. Defending better is the key to reaching the final." 

Madrid will be crowned LaLiga champions if they get a point at Espanyol on Saturday, but Ancelotti has no intention of denying the players a chance to celebrate ahead of Wednesday's return game against City at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

"If we are able to win the league, of course we'll celebrate. And it will help us for Wednesday's game," he added. 

On April 26, 2016, Manchester City and Real Madrid played out a tepid 0-0 draw in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final at the Etihad Stadium. 

Back at the same ground, in the same round of the same competition six years later, they produced a spectacle that had the contrast cranked up to the maximum.

It was the joint-highest scoring semi-final in the competition's history, and it was a story that twisted and turned from the first minute until the last.

But the opening chapter reached its conclusion with City holding a 4-3 advantage after an enthralling 90 minutes.

A start for the history books 

City pressed Madrid high from the off and it was shortly after regaining possession in the final third that Kevin De Bruyne made a phenomenal dart into the box to head home Riyad Mahrez's pinpoint delivery. 

There were just 95 seconds on the clock, making it the quickest goal in Champions League semi-final history. The previous mark was 2 minutes 44 seconds, which was set by Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich against Madrid in May 2018. 

It did not stop there, though. De Bruyne picked out Gabriel Jesus, who, after a somewhat fortuitous first touch, guided a cool finish beyond Thibaut Courtois to make it 2-0. 

Madrid had never before conceded twice in the first 11 minutes of a Champions League match and it looked like they could be seriously up against it with Mahrez, Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko all going close. 

Benzema brings it back 

It has already been the best season of Karim Benzema's career and he showed just how important he has become to Madrid in his 600th appearance for the club – the most by a non-Spanish player. 

He got in front of Zinchenko to steer home a brilliant volley from the edge of the box in the 33rd minute for his 40th goal of the season. The Frenchman now belongs to an exclusive club of just five players to hit that mark in a single campaign for Los Blancos, joining Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano and Hugo Sanchez. 

No let-up 

Madrid lost their best defender in David Alaba at half-time and the momentum they had built before the break quickly dissipated. 

Los Blancos concede an average of five more shots per game when Alaba does not feature and City had already had four efforts on goal – two of which came when Mahrez hit the post and Foden saw his goal-bound follow-up blocked by Dani Carvajal – before restoring their two-goal cushion through Foden in the 53rd minute. 

Makeshift right-back Fernandinho, who replaced the injured John Stones in the first half, set up Foden with an excellent cross but his defending belied his years of experience just two minutes later. Vinicius Junior got the better of his fellow Brazilian with a clever dummy by the halfway line, and no one could catch him before he tucked the ball into the bottom-right corner. 

It was the first time two players aged 21 or younger had scored in the same Champions League semi-final match.  

Don't look away

The drama was far from over, though. Bernardo Silva capitalised when referee Istvan Kovacs wisely played the advantage following Toni Kroos' challenge on Zinchenko by slamming the ball into the top-left corner in the 74th minute.

City consequently became the first English side to score four against Madrid in the Champions League since Liverpool in March 2009. It would have been five had Mahrez been able to add a finish to his coruscating run.

But Aymeric Laporte inexplicably handling a cross enabled Benzema to score his ninth goal of the knockout stages – a Panenka from the penalty spot moving him one adrift of Ronaldo's record (10) from Madrid's triumphant 2016-17 campaign. The Portugal captain (13) is also the only player to have scored more Champions League semi-final goals than Benzema's seven.

Madrid were unable to stop Pep Guardiola claiming a 12th win in his 20 meetings with them across his entire coaching career, though. The Catalan's record in the semi-final has been met with a lot of questions, but he has never been eliminated after winning a first leg at this stage.

He will hope to get the job done at the Santiago Bernabeu and get a chance at redemption after last season's final defeat to Chelsea.

Second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva put Manchester City back on top of the Premier League as Brighton and Hove Albion were consigned to a 3-0 defeat.

Liverpool had moved to the summit with a 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United on Tuesday, but Pep Guardiola's side responded 24 hours later to keep their fate in their own hands in the title race.

Deflected strikes from Mahrez and Foden put the champions in command at the Etihad Stadium and Silva added a third as they moved a point ahead of the Reds with six games to play after losing to Jurgen Klopp's men in an FA Cup semi-final last Saturday.

City had been without a win in three matches, but normal service was resumed in their quest for a Premier League and Champions League double.

Moises Caicedo spared Robert Sanchez's blushes when he produced a brilliant challenge on Mahrez after the Seagulls goalkeeper gifted the City winger a chance to open the scoring early on with a terrible pass.

The hosts were not at their devastating best in the first half, but Brighton had another let-off when they made a mess of trying to play out from the back again and this time Lewis Dunk came to the rescue by blocking Ilkay Gundogan's strike.

The fit-again Ruben Dias replaced Nathan Ake at the break to make his first appearance since March 1 and the City defender was fortunate to get away with late challenge on Alexis Mac Allister soon after his introduction.

Kevin De Bruyne was the architect for the opening goal eight minutes into the second half, bursting forward from inside his own half before picking out Mahrez, who benefited from a couple of fortunate deflections before his finish struck Dunk and beat Sanchez.

Foden doubled City's lead 12 minutes later, this time Enock Mwepu sticking out a leg in an attempt to keep out the midfielder's drive from outside the box but seeing the ball flash past a helpless Sanchez.

There was concern for City when John Stones was withdrawn late on after sustaining an injury, but Silva put the icing on the cake with a clinical left-foot finish in the 82nd minute as Brighton shot themselves in the foot again trying to play out from the back.

Bernardo Silva welcomes the pressure on Manchester City to continue their charge for a maiden Champions League title when they face Atletico Madrid in the quarter-final in what is "not just another game".

Pep Guardiola's Premier League side cruised through their last-16 clash with Sporting, winning 5-0 on aggregate, to tee up their first meeting with Atletico in European competition.

The Etihad Stadium will play host to the first leg on Tuesday before the return meeting in Spain on April 13 as City look to lift the Champions League for the first time in their history.

City have only lost one of their last nine games in the competition beyond the group stage (W7 D1), with that defeat coming in the final last season against Chelsea.

Silva openly acknowledged the pressure on his team to deliver European success, but he sees it as an opportunity as opposed to a reason for concern.

"It's not just another game, it's a very important game for us, it's a competition that maybe just Scott Carson has won," he told reporters at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"Pep as well but the club has never won it. Most of us have never won it. We really want to do it. Over the years we weren't able to do it, it is the only one missing and we want to go for it again.

"The pressure is always there and we know these fans always expect us to perform well in this competition and we're going to try our best to make our fans happy and proud of us."

Pressed on the frustrations of Europe's premier club competition evading City so far, Silva added: "We know how important this competition is. It's where the best clubs in Europe play.

"It's definitely a goal. It's a thing that we really want to achieve but if we are going to achieve it - nobody knows. The only thing we can promise to our fans and the club is that we're going to do our best and try as hard as we can to achieve that.

When asked about the pressure to win the tournament when seemingly appearing the favourites, Silva responded: "I don't think it is anxiety but pressure. Pressure to win is nice because it means you're in a great club fighting for everything.

"It is pressure that we want because we want to win those competitions. Atletico are a great side also, I'm sure they have that same thing. There is lots of pressure from the fans to continue to win.

"They are the champions of Spain and they also have to do well in the Champions League. There is lots of pressure on both sides but we are players used to this and we will manage it really well."

Guardiola and Simeone have faced off four times before in their managerial career, with the latter eliminating the Spaniard's Bayern Munich on away goals in the 2015-16 Champions League semi-final.

Atletico averaged just 27 per cent possession across the two legs and scored twice from 18 shots, while Bayern netted the same number of goals from 53 attempts, and Silva believes Simeone's visitors will pose a unique challenge.

"Honestly, no. Maybe the style of play might be similar to some teams in the Premier League," he said of how Atletico compared to English teams.

"It's a team with some of the best players in the world. It's not comparable. Club teams in England, most or all, don't play like Atletico, which makes the game different. Very competitive, organised, with a specific style of play. It wasn't easy for [Manchester] United, Liverpool two years ago. It won't be easy for us but if we follow Pep's plan it will work out.

"The team I see today is better prepared than even last season. It comes from disappointment. We know each other better. It’s been five or six years we’ve been with Pep. We keep learning from our mistakes."

City's focus will quickly turn to a home clash with Liverpool on Sunday that is being labelled as a title decider, with Jurgen Klopp's side just a point behind Guardiola's leaders with eight games to play.

However, Silva suggested the crucial double-header within five days of each other is a compliment to the quality of his team.

"The players are used to it," he continued. "It’s a good sign and it means we are there to fight for titles. It's good to be able to fight for all of them. We enjoy it, playing against the best teams for the best competitions."

Bernardo Silva acknowledged the pressure on Portugal to qualify for the World Cup but assured his side can cope with the challenge of making Qatar.

Portugal overcame Turkey 3-1 in the play-off semi-final on Thursday, when Roberto Mancini's Italy crashed out to North Macedonia as Aleksandar Trajkovski scored a 92nd-minute winner in Palermo.

Fernando Santos' side boast home advantage in the final at Porto's Dragao Stadium as the Euro 2016 winners aim to qualify for a sixth straight World Cup, having previously failed to appear at three consecutive tournaments between 1990 and 1998.

Manchester City star Silva insisted that Portugal players will call upon their club experiences to deal with the expectations on them against North Macedonia on Tuesday.

"The responsibility of being present at the World Cup means that, regardless of the opponent, we have this pressure," Silva told reporters at Sunday's pre-match news conference.

"The pressure exists in that sense, and we accept it, and it would be the same against Italy, [North] Macedonia or anyone else. We are used to pressure at our clubs.

"Of course, having players with experience in decisive games helps. But the fact that North Macedonia haven't played as many games like these also makes their motivation levels higher."

North Macedonia are eyeing a first World Cup in their 27-year history, having qualified for Euro 2020 last year, and Silva knows Blagoja Milevski's team will by no means be pushovers.

"North Macedonia have won four of their last five away games, two of them against two of the best teams in the world [Germany, a 2-1 win in March 2021, and Italy]," he added.

"Let's do our homework, see what the coach's plan is and try to follow it in the best way, knowing that teams are different and will demand different things.

"We are a team that creates many chances. We also know that we need to control the counter-attacks, and the best way to do that is by moving the ball well.

"We know that we have a difficult task ahead of us, but we will do our best to overcome an opponent that we know will create some difficulties. It's 90 minutes, anything can happen, and we're sure it will be very difficult.

"We need to go to the game with the same idea and all rowing in the same direction. I'm sure things will go well."

Fellow midfielder Joao Moutinho echoed Silva's sentiments, though he admitted Portugal expected to contend with Italy for a place at the 2022 edition of FIFA's showpiece event.

"I won't lie to you: we were all expecting it was going to be Italy," Moutinho told reporters.

"Football is different nowadays, every team can win at this level; it doesn't matter the names, numbers or stats. North Macedonia have an extraordinary core and will do their best to make our life miserable on Tuesday."

Bernardo Silva insisted it is better to be in Manchester City's position rather than Liverpool's after the Premier League leaders were held at Crystal Palace.

Liverpool cut the gap on Pep Guardiola's side to three points with a 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, and City could only respond with a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park on Monday.

City were twice thwarted by the frame of the goal, with Kevin De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo denied either side of the interval, but Palace battled valiantly to share the spoils.

Silva also squandered a pair of glorious chances in either half, with his touch letting him down from close range in the first before nudging wide from Jack Grealish's low cross after the break.

Liverpool play their game in hand against Arsenal on Wednesday and could be top by the time the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on April 10, but Silva claimed he would rather be in his side's position.

"It was a tough game, we actually played well, we controlled the game apart from one or two times," Silva told Sky Sports after the match.

"We couldn't score, and we should've scored. Nine games to go, but it's still better to be in our position than in Liverpool's, and they have to play in our stadium, so it's going to be exciting.

"It's never easy to play at any team away in the Premier League. It's always better to win than draw, and we wanted to have an advantage of six points over Liverpool."

The goalless draw ended a run of 18 consecutive Premier League games in which City had scored, since a 2-0 defeat to Palace in October 2021.

Guardiola's side also mustered 18 shots in total without scoring against Palace, their biggest tally without a goal in the competition since their 18 efforts against Tottenham in August 2021.

City will be hoping to make amends in their next league outing at Burnley on April 2, after the international break and an FA Cup quarter-final trip to Southampton on Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino's future at Paris Saint-Germain is unclear amid rumblings that he wants out.

Manchester United have been linked with the ex-Tottenham manager, who took over at PSG in January last year.

The Red Devils dismissed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, with Ralf Rangnick taking over on an interim basis.


TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS KEEN ON POCHETTINO

Real Madrid are set to rival Manchester United to land Pochettino this off-season, claims the Daily Mail.

The Red Devils are understood to be circling for the Argentine, who is reportedly unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain.

But the report claims Madrid have doubts over current boss Carlo Ancelotti's future and believe that Pochettino is obtainable in the off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City's Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva is dreaming of a switch to join Real Madrid, claims Calciomercato.

- Calciomercato also reports that Inter are monitoring Gabriel Jesus' status at City, with a view to bolstering their attack.

- Nicolo Schira reports that Atalanta are keen to move for Torino's Italy international striker Andrea Belotti in the off-season when he is a free agent.

- TuttoMercatoWeb claims Arsenal, Newcastle United, Borussia Dortmund and Inter are all in the race to sign Lille's Canadian forward Jonathan David.

- GiveMeSport claims Liverpool are "seriously interested" in West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen.

- Roma are keen on signing Barcelona's USA international defender Sergino Dest according to Fichajes.

Pep Guardiola considered Bernardo Silva's first goal against Sporting CP on Tuesday "one of the best I've ever seen".

Silva, a former Benfica player returning to Lisbon, netted twice in Manchester City's stunning 5-0 defeat of Sporting in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

The moment of the match came 17 minutes in when the City midfielder thundered a half-volley in off the crossbar to put the visitors two up.

Silva had not scored a Champions League goal since the same stage of last year's tournament, with his two on Tuesday meaning five of his eight City strikes in the competition have been netted in the last 16.

This was Silva's first ever Champions League brace and took him to 10 goals for the season in all competitions – his most in a single club campaign since 13 in 2018-19.

Guardiola has long felt Silva could score more often, as he told a news conference: "Always I tell him: Bernardo, you are a perfect player, defensively so intuitive, can run 12km, 13km – but with sense, not just running for running – and with the ball he's more than exceptional.

"But I always say: you have to score goals, you have to win games, you have the ability to do it.

"And today, with the [first] goal, he scored one of the best I've ever seen – for the technique, for everything. Hopefully he can get confidence [from the goal]."

Silva also added his third assist of the season for Raheem Sterling's fifth goal, while his three tackles were a joint-high among City players in an all-action display that showed why Guardiola considers the midfielder "unique".

"He can play in six roles, easily," the City manager said. "He doesn't just play football; he understands the game. There are players that play good with the ball, but he understands the game, exactly what he needs with every action.

"There are few in the world [like him], few. He's a fantastic player.

"Hopefully he can stay with Man City for many, many years, but it depends of course the club will decide and himself."

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