Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it will take a couple of new signings for Manchester United to seriously challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title next season.

A United side showing 10 changes from Sunday's victory at Aston Villa fell to a 2-1 loss at home to Leicester City on Tuesday - a result that crowned City as champions with three games to spare.

It is City's seventh top-flight title triumph, five of those in the last decade, while United's wait for Premier League glory will stretch into a ninth season.

While Solskjaer feels his side deserve praise for pushing City as far as they did, the Norwegian accepts it will take some spending in the close season to fully close the gap.

"If you want to take up the challenge with them we need to strengthen our squad," he told BT Sport. "Congratulations to them. They have had a fantastic season. 

"I am very pleased with my boys that have made it to the last 10 days with a Manchester City side ahead of us that are lauded as the best in Europe.

"We want to take the next step and it might be that we need a couple more to strengthen the squad."

Mason Greenwood was the only player to keep his place in United's starting line-up for the loss to third-placed Leicester, who are now within four points of their opponents.

Solskjaer hinted ahead of the game he would prioritise the upcoming clash with Liverpool, which comes a little over 48 hours after the visit of Leicester to Old Trafford.

The United boss believes his side performed well given the circumstances as he again hit out at the Premier League for rescheduling the game versus Liverpool for this Thursday.

"We started off slow, as you might expect because they have not had any time to prepare for the game, but after they scored we had nothing to lose," he said.

"We played some very good stuff and I was pleased with it. We have not had too much time to prepare and we went into half-time pleased. 

"They didn't get out of the traps and they got a goal from a corner that should have been a throw.

"But it can't be like this again. We can't play Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday to Thursday. It is impossible. That's the reason we made the changes. 

"It's unheard of. It is impossible for the players to perform at this level going from Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday."

Greenwood's smart finish cancelled out Luke Thomas' impressive volleyed opener, before Caglar Soyuncu headed in a winner for Leicester 24 minutes from time.

England international Greenwood now has 29 goals in all competitions since the start of last season, which is the most of any teenager in Europe's top five leagues.

On a day that saw Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga make their Premier League debuts for United, Solskjaer reserved special praise for Greenwood.

"Mason looked like a seasoned professional and he is only 19," Solskjaer said at his post-match news conference.

"You saw some definite leadership in he had to take responsibility. He did really well considering his age.

"No matter how old you are, if you believe yourself and trust yourself then you make that decision."

The defeat for United was their fifth at Old Trafford in the Premier League this season, which is as many as in their previous two campaigns combined.

Leicester City enhanced their Champions League hopes with a 2-1 win over Manchester United – a result that crowned Manchester City as Premier League champions.

United were the only team with a mathematical chance of overhauling Pep Guardiola's side, but a line-up bearing 10 changes from Sunday's 3-1 victory at Aston Villa showed how realistic Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thought those hopes were.

Liverpool are at Old Trafford on Thursday for their rearranged game, and Solskjaer's youthful line-up for this second of three matches in five days fell behind when Luke Thomas brilliantly steered in a 10th-minute volley for his first Premier League goal.

Mason Greenwood extended his recent purple patch to eight goals in 11 outings shortly afterwards but United carried little threat and Leicester centre-back Soyuncu was left to make his most telling contribution at the other end of the field midway through the second half.

It meant a third title in four seasons for Manchester City – an outcome that felt slightly fanciful when they lost 5-2 at home to Leicester back in September.

There was an injury scare for United left-back Alex Telles early on and Leicester's opener came as Youri Tielemans made progress down his flank, possibly over hitting the cross from which Thomas finished with aplomb.

A teenager more familiar with the scoresheet quickly got United back on terms, Greenwood drilling home in superbly assured fashion after Amad Diallo got the better of Thomas.

David De Gea pushed another awkwardly dipping Tielemans cross behind for a corner in the 28th minute, as the lively start to proceedings gave way to a more fragmented contest.

The Belgium midfielder remained the only Leicester player who looked frequently capable of unlocking a patched-up United and he slid a pass into Kelechi Iheanacho – De Gea sharply denying the striker with his boot.

Leicester's deliveries from open play left plenty to be desired, although Marc Albrighton's 66th-minute corner picked out Soyuncu to power home as substitute Marcus Rashford was caught napping.

Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes amounted to some particularly prolific cavalry, the latter slicing wastefully wide six minutes from time as City readied the champagne corks.

Manchester City have been crowned Premier League champions after Manchester United's 2-1 defeat to Leicester City on Tuesday.

Luke Thomas volleyed Leicester into a 10th-minute lead against a much-changed United side and, though Mason Greenwood responded five minutes later, the Foxes ensured the title will head to the blue half of Manchester through Caglar Soyuncu's 66th-minute header.

Pep Guardiola's men have now won three titles in four seasons, regaining their crown at the first time of asking following Liverpool's 2019-20 success.

City were unable to get over the line on their own terms last weekend as a much-changed XI went down 2-1 to Chelsea, despite Raheem Sterling giving them a 44th-minute lead

Sergio Aguero, who has twice scored in title-clinching victories for the club where he is the all-time record goalscorer, could have given them breathing space in first-half stoppage time but botched a Panenka penalty attempt in hilarious fashion.

That left the door ajar for Thomas Tuchel's men to capitalise through Hakim Ziyech's equaliser and Marcos Alonso's stoppage-time winner.

Aguero can at least console himself with a fifth league winners' medal, having been involved in each of City's Premier League wins.

It pulls them level with Chelsea on five triumphs, with Manchester United's 13 won under Alex Ferguson still granting them breathing space overall.

Guardiola joins Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho on three Premier League titles. Only Ferguson has won more and the Catalan is the 12th manager in English top-flight history to have won three or more league championships.

Overall, it is City's seventh time as English champions, including wins in 1936-37 and 1967-68. It puts them joint fifth in the all-time standings alongside Aston Villa and behind United (20), Liverpool (19), Arsenal (13) and Everton (nine).

In the modern era, there can be no doubting City's dominance, with this their fifth title in the past 10 seasons. Only Chelsea (two) have won the Premier League more than once during the same period.

Guardiola similarly stands tall among his contemporaries, with nine titles across his 12 top-flight seasons as a coach – three apiece with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.

Such an achievement did not look likely as his team made a stuttering start to 2020-21. On Christmas Day they were eighth in the table and eight points behind leaders Liverpool.

Only two teams in Premier League history (Arsenal in 1997-98 – 13 points; Manchester United in 1995-96 – 10 points) have been further behind at Christmas and won the title and neither were as low as eighth when they did so.

You have to go back to before the Premier League era for a team in a lower position on December 25 ending up as champions. City themselves were 12th in 1936, the same position as Liverpool in 1981. Derby County claimed glory from 10th at Christmas in 1974-75.

Harry Maguire could miss the Europa League final after Manchester United confirmed he suffered ankle ligament damage against Aston Villa, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful he can face Villarreal.

The England centre-back was visibly hurt following a challenge with Anwar El Ghazi in Sunday's 3-1 comeback win and had to be replaced by Eric Bailly after 78 minutes.

Solskjaer was unclear how long United would be without Maguire initially, suggesting there was a chance he could be fit for Tuesday's visit of Leicester City before also acknowledging his season may be over.

He was able to offer a little more clarity on Tuesday, with Maguire left out of the squad to face his former club, revealing there has been ligament damage rather than a fracture.

A statement on the United website said that "he could also be absent for the remaining league fixtures", while also stating he faces a "race against time" to be fit for the Europa League final on May 26.

Solskjaer stressed he remains optimistic, though he could not be certain that Maguire will feature in Gdansk.

Speaking to MUTV ahead of the clash with Leicester, Solskjaer said: "He's obviously had the scans and the good news is there is no fracture.

"[There's] ligament damage but hopefully we will see him again this season. Hopefully, he'll be ready for the final."

Maguire had previously played every minute in the Premier League since joining from Leicester prior to his withdrawal on Sunday.

His run of 71 games in succession put him tied with only Gary Pallister for an outfield United player in the competition – with the ex-Red Devils defender coincidentally also seeing his streak ended by injury at Villa Park in the 1995-96 season.

Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga are set to make their Premier League debuts for Manchester United after being named in a much-changed starting XI against Leicester City.

United welcome Leicester to Old Trafford on Tuesday amid a controversially hectic schedule that most recently had them in action on Sunday, and they will play again on Thursday.

The postponement of United's clash with Liverpool is partly to blame, with that game called off after Reds Devils supporters stormed Old Trafford in protests against the club's owners.

Solskjaer has been openly critical of the Premier League's unwillingness to find an alternative solution and acknowledged the packed nature of their schedule this week will require him to make full use of his squad.

While it is a bone of contention for Solskjaer, for Amad and Elanga it offers a glorious opportunity.

The two teenage wingers are set to make their Premier League debuts, with 19-year-old Sweden youth international Elanga yet to appear for United's senior side in any capacity.

Amad, on the other hand, has featured five times from the bench in the FA Cup and Europa League, scoring his first goal for the club in the latter against Milan in a 1-1 draw exactly two months ago.

Solskjaer has been patient about throwing him into the starting XI despite indicating fairly early on after joining up with the squad in January that he was nearly ready.

Elanga has been highly regarded in the United youth setup for quite some time, having been the most recent recipient of the club's Young Player of the Year award, a gong previously won by the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Marcus Rashford.

A dynamic and tricky left winger, Elanga has been in fine form for the club's Under-23s this term, scoring nine goals and setting up another two in 16 Premier League 2 appearances.

He's also attempted more dribbles (60) than any other United Under-23s player in 2020-21, highlighting his confidence on the ball.

The teenagers are just two of 10 changes to the United team from the 3-1 win over Aston Villa, with Mason Greenwood the only player to keep his place.

Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Rashford are among those on the bench.

Defeat for United will seal the Premier League title for rivals Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he will do everything he can not to jeopardise the fitness of his Manchester United players during this week's packed schedule.

United continued their habit of coming from behind to win by sinking Aston Villa 3-1 on Sunday, goals from Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani after a Bruno Fernandes penalty maintaining their slim mathematical hopes of winning the Premier League title.

Victories over Champions League-chasing Leicester City and Liverpool at Old Trafford on Tuesday and Thursday would close them to within four points of leaders Manchester City before Pep Guardiola's side travel to Newcastle United on Friday.

City only need three points from their remaining three matches to clinch a third championship success in four seasons, and Solskjaer does not feel it would be responsible to select full-strength teams and risk injuries.

"I wish I could have said let’s go full out in all the games but it’s impossible," said the United boss, who has frequently criticised the decision to reschedule the Liverpool game for this week after the initial encounter was postponed due to protesting fans storming Old Trafford and blockading the team hotel on May 2.

"That's the hard bit for me – knowing that if I do play these XI again on Tuesday and Thursday, it's impossible.

"I run too much of a risk of injuring them, so talking about integrity in the league and stuff, don't blame me when I have to make changes, because I have to. It’s not safe for them to play all four, so I’ve got to prioritise."

As such, Solskjaer will look towards some of the younger members of his squad, with Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire pressing to feature.

"They're in contention, yeah, and they're in the first team squad, they're training with us every day so I would think that some of the young boys will get an appearance, definitely.

"If it's coming on towards the end or if it's starting I don't know because I don't know how the players will be on Tuesday when we see them."

Forwards Anthony Martial and Dan James are set to miss out once more, while Harry Maguire is expected to be sidelined as United wait to find out the full extent of the ankle injury their captain suffered at Villa Park.

Eric Bailly replaced Maguire at the weekend and would appear best-placed to start, although Axel Tuanzebe provides another centre-back option.

As the 2020-21 season comes to an end, Jadon Sancho's future is dominating headlines.

Having been tipped to leave Borussia Dortmund at the start of the campaign, the England international is once again in the spotlight.

A move could be on the cards but remaining in Germany is also an option.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN TO SWOOP FOR SANCHO?

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are considering a move for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Telegraph.

Sancho has long been linked with Premier League giants Manchester United, as well as Liverpool and Chelsea in the past.

But Bayern are believed to be ready to prise Sancho from Dortmund as they also reportedly wait to prise in-demand team-mate Erling Haaland to Bavaria.

Haaland, who has a release clause that is not valid until 2022, is wanted by Bayern, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- After re-signing Neymar, PSG are on the right track to lure Madrid captain Sergio Ramos to the French capital, claims ParisFans. Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and yet to renew with Madrid.

Leicester City are set to sign Lille star Boubakary Soumare for less than £26million (€30m), reports Fabrizio Romano. He has previously been linked to United.

- Romano and L'Equipe say Julian Draxler has signed a contract extension with PSG. Arsenal and Bayern had reportedly been eyeing the German.

- Telefoot continues to link PSG with Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who has a host of admirers, including United, Barca and Madrid.

Roma and Juventus are eyeing former Inter captain Mauro Icardi as ParisFans says the PSG striker's future could be away from Paris at the end of the season.

Neymar's long-term commitment to Paris Saint-Germain has been in question at times. 

A return to Barcelona had been rumoured. 

Now the Brazil international is set to stay in the French capital.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR TO FINALISE PSG EXTENSION

Neymar is set to sign a new contract with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain this weekend, L'Equipe reports.

The four-year extension will be worth €30million (£26m) per season and run through 2026, nearly a decade after he arrived from Camp Nou for a record €220m fee. 

The signing would come days after a report that Barcelona approached PSG about Neymar, but the French club insisted he was not for sale. 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea are casting a wide net to bolster their attack, with Bild reporting Mohamed Salah is on Thomas Tuchel's shortlist along with Erling Haaland and Romelu Lukaku

- Zinedine Zidane may return to Juventus as head coach after Real Madrid's Champions League exit, Tuttosport reports, adding that the Real Madrid boss also is considering taking some time away from the sport. 

Georginio Wijnaldum's Liverpool deal expires in June and the midfielder could be on the way to Bayern Munich, Sport1 reports. 

- Memphis Depay remains a top target for Barcelona, but the Spanish giants could turn to Donyell Malen of PSV if they cannot land the Lyon star. 

- Marca claims Eden Hazard is on the way out at Real Madrid, with Los Blancos ready to listen to offers for the forward. 

- Jan Oblak could be moving to the Premier League this summer, with ESPN saying Manchester United are among the potential destinations for the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper. 

- Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard will sign for Leicester City, Teamtalk reported. The 23-year-old also has drawn inquiries from West Ham and Liverpool

- Aston Villa will offer £15million for Burnley's Dwight McNeil, Football Insider reported. McNeil is under contract through 2024. 

As we head into the decisive matchdays in the Premier League season, match-winners will become worth their weight in gold to all 20 sides in the division.

With that in mind, our latest suggestions for fantasy football enthusiasts include a good number of forwards who will be expected to chip in with goals.

There are also two of the league's most in-form defenders and a goalkeeper who might just have won himself the number one spot.

Our tips for this week – powered by Opta, as always – are below...
 

DEAN HENDERSON

Since taking over Premier League duties while David de Gea was in Spain for the birth of his daughter, Dean Henderson has made it clear he does not intend to relinquish the Manchester United starting spot.

The former Sheffield United loanee has the best save percentage (82.4) in the competition this season, while he has conceded just 0.6 goals per game on average – the best rate of any keeper to play at least 200 minutes.

Henderson will likely keep his spot for the trip to Aston Villa, a team who have beaten United just once in their previous 44 Premier League meetings.

BEN CHILWELL

Fresh from celebrating reaching the Champions League final, Ben Chilwell will be looking to keep up his strong league form for Chelsea.

The left-back has been directly involved in seven goals this season (two scored, five assisted) – no defender in the competition has been involved in more.

Expect him to provide his customary threat on the break when Chelsea take on Manchester City.

AARON WAN-BISSAKA

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer challenged Aaron Wan-Bissaka to improve his attacking output, and the tough-tackling right-back appears to have heeded the call.

Three of his four goal involvements (75 per cent) and 21 of his 26 chances created (81 per cent) have come since the turn of the year.

The United man also boasts 13 Premier League clean sheets this season; among defenders, he is behind only Ruben Dias and Matt Targett (14).

MOHAMED SALAH

Liverpool might have struggled for consistency this season, but Mohamed Salah's goal output has remained impressively high; he has 20 in the league, behind only Harry Kane (21).

On Saturday, he will meet some of his favourite opposition in Southampton, a team against whom he has scored seven goals in seven league appearances, including five in three at Anfield.

Saints have also lost their past three league games away to Liverpool by an aggregate score of 10-0.

GARETH BALE

With a hat-trick against relegated Sheffield United, Gareth Bale proved he could still be a vital asset in Tottenham's European chase.

Bale has scored nine goals in 727 minutes in the division this season, averaging a goal every 81 minutes, which is the best record in the competition in 2020-21.

Should he take his tally to 10 against Leeds United, Bale will set a new record for the longest gap between 10-goal seasons in Premier League history (eight), overtaking Paul Scholes and Nwankwo Kanu (seven).

MASON GREENWOOD

Mason Greenwood has recaptured some of his better form in recent weeks to help United... well, if not catch Manchester City, at least consolidate second place.

The forward has four goals and one assist in his most recent four league games, which is more direct goal involvements than he managed in his previous 28 appearances.

Solskjaer will likely have to rotate given the hectic week ahead, but expect Greenwood to be involved at Villa Park, even if it's as a substitute.

KELECHI IHEANACHO

Speaking of rediscovering form, nobody in the league has done so quite as spectacularly in recent weeks as Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Leicester City striker has scored nine goals and assisted two in his most recent eight league appearances – that's one more direct goal involvement than he managed in his previous 57 league games.

The Foxes are also on a run of eight wins in 10 league games against Friday's opponents Newcastle United.

The Premier League has confirmed away fans will not be allowed to attend fixtures staged in the final two rounds of the 2020-21 season.

With a further relaxing of coronavirus restrictions scheduled in the United Kingdom on May 17, up to 10,000 supporters will be allowed inside grounds to watch games again.

The penultimate set of top-flight fixtures had been pushed back to midweek dates as a result, thereby making sure all clubs have one home outing under the new guidelines.

However, visiting fans will not be permitted inside the stadiums, a decision taken to make sure there is consistency across the board for all 20 teams.

"The Premier League last week confirmed fixtures have been rescheduled to provide an opportunity for each club to host one home game with supporters before the end of the season," a statement from the governing body said.

"Match round 37 will now be played on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 May with the final matches of the season kicking off at 16:00 BST on Sunday 23 May, as planned.

"Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance.

"The safety and security of supporters is of paramount importance. Clubs have a proven track record of providing Covid-safe environments and have operational plans in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to their stadiums.

"Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and this marks a key step towards full stadiums, including away fans, from the start of the 2021-22 season."

Gareth Bale's future is uncertain as his loan spell at Tottenham from Real Madrid draws to an end.

Bale has said he intends to return to Madrid for the final year of his contract.

Spurs' interest in keeping the Wales star beyond this season is not clear as they are in the market for a new head coach after Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

 

TOP STORY – NEW SPURS BOSS TO DECIDE ON BALE

The Daily Mail reports that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will let the club's new head coach decide whether or not to re-sign Bale.

The option remains for a second loan deal for the Welshman to re-join Spurs from Madrid next season.

Spurs have first option on a second loan but they would require Bale's agreement, although he appears out of favour in Madrid.

Triggering the clause will cost Tottenham £12million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Dortmund's asking price for Jadon Sancho is down to £87m (€100m) according to ESPN, which may interest Manchester United and Liverpool. Dortmund previously demanded more than £100m (€115m) for the England midfielder.

- Arsenal are interested in signing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, with a five-year deal on the table, according to Football Insider.

- The Athletic claims Brentford striker Ivan Toney is drawing interest from Leicester City and Everton as well as a "host of clubs" preparing bids for his services.

- Newcastle United are considering a move for Vitesse defender Danilho Doekhi, reports De Telegraaf.

- Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix to sign Santos' teenage forward Kaio Jorge, claims Kicker.

Five years have passed since Leicester City stunned the football world and sealed their astonishing first Premier League triumph.

The Foxes had faced relegation the previous season before rallying late in the year but then stormed clear at the summit in 2015-16.

Leicester are now regular Champions League challengers, yet the story of that campaign remains remarkable.

With Opta data, we tell the tale of their title success through their three key performers.
 

VARDY'S GOALS

Jamie Vardy's rags to riches football fairytale story is well documented, but by this point in his career it is fair to say he had not yet made the grade in the Premier League. 

Having scored 16 times in their 2013-14 promotion campaign, Vardy scored one, created two more and won a pair of penalties for the further goals in a delirious 5-3 defeat of Manchester United in September 2014, then did not net again until March 2015.

Team-mate David Nugent provided an obvious, easy comparison, the player too good for the second tier but not good enough for the top flight.

Nugent's 20 goals in 46 games in 2013-14 improved his Championship tally to 90 in 254. He had found the net only nine times across 64 Premier League appearances, though, and would add just five more from 29 matches for Leicester.

But where Nugent's 2014-15 season followed a familiar, underwhelming theme, Vardy improved drastically over the course of a relentless run-in.

Playing a vital role as seven wins from nine games lifted Leicester from the foot of the table, Vardy ended the season with five goals and eight assists. Three of his five strikes came from fast breaks, having been involved in 11 counter-attacks – the fifth-most of any Premier League player – as the Foxes found an effective way of playing.

Leicester had fewer fast breaks in 2015-16 (21) than the previous year (34) but still led the league in this regard and scored from six such counters. Four of those goals came from Vardy among a breakout 24 for the season.

Freed by a quick, direct set-up, Vardy ranked fourth in the league for shots (115), second for shots on target (53) and third for touches in the opposition box (221). The ultimate confidence player, Vardy scored in a record-breaking 11 consecutive matches.

The tireless forward maintained his nuisance factor, too, winning possession in the final third 33 times and earning seven penalties – both league highs.

The Leicester number nine took 20.87 per cent of his chances but only marginally outperformed his expected goals (xG) total, his 19 non-penalty goals coming from shots worth a top-ranked 18.34 xG.

Vardy has since become more clinical – peaking with 28.17 per cent shot conversion in 2017-18 – but has never again been so busy in the area.

MAHREZ'S GUILE

Anthony Knockaert also fell into that Nugent group, lasting a mere nine games at Leicester in the top flight having created 2.6 chances per 90 minutes in the first of his three Championship promotion campaigns.

Riyad Mahrez, signed in January 2014, was the Foxes' other star winger and also struggled in his debut Premier League season. Having been involved in seven goals in 19 Championship outings, he could only match that tally again across an entire year in the top division.

As with Vardy, though, Leicester's late-season resurgence allowed the Algeria international to carry momentum into the new campaign; he started the final four matches of 2014-15 and netted both goals in a win over Southampton.

And the improvement in Mahrez's play was even more pronounced.

There were two more goals against Sunderland on the opening day, among 13 by Christmas alongside seven assists. That pace slowed – he finished with 17 goals and 11 assists – but Mahrez trailed only Vardy for goal involvements.

Despite this, Mahrez was far from the most prolific creator. His 68 key passes ranked eighth but made up less than half of leader Mesut Ozil's output (146). Mahrez crafted high-quality openings, however, second only to Ozil (28) in creating 20 'big chances' – situations where Opta would reasonably expect a player to score.

This was all the more impressive as Mahrez was also required to provide an outlet for a side with the third-lowest average possession (42.4 per cent) in the division. Only Wilfried Zaha (274 to 255) attempted more dribbles, while nobody completed more (131).

Mahrez has never once attempted 100 dribbles in a season since joining Manchester City, but the close control and spellbinding skill that is merely another option at the Etihad Stadium then attracted defenders and opened space for sprinters Vardy, Marc Albrighton and Jeffrey Schlupp.

KANTE'S GRAFT

Gokhan Inler was presumed to be the replacement for Esteban Cambiasso, who had led Leicester's rescue act from midfield with five goals – as many as Vardy – at the age of 34.

Inler started only three games but for good reason. Fellow new signing N'Golo Kante was perhaps the biggest game-changer for the Foxes. Opponents might have dominated possession but they could never rest.

Kante, at Caen, had led Ligue 1 midfielders in tackles (178), tackles won (146) and interceptions (110) and ranked second for recoveries (369) in 2014-15.

The transition to the Premier League was seamless. He was first again for tackles (175), tackles won (125) and interceptions (156), although he fell to third in terms of recoveries (326). The man in second was Leicester team-mate Danny Drinkwater.

What the Foxes lacked without the experience of Cambiasso, Kante's bite more than made up for.

The midfielder became more careful in possession following his move, too, losing the ball with just 18.1 per cent of his touches, the lowest rate of any Leicester player with 1,000 touches or more and an improvement on his 23.4 per cent with Caen.

Even then, it was not as straightforward as a single signing fixing every issue. Idrissa Gueye, another Ligue 1 recruit, ranked second in tackles, tackles won and interceptions and first in recoveries yet was relegated with Aston Villa.

But Kante's infectious tenacity set the standard at the King Power Stadium and only Tottenham blocked a greater share of their opponents' shots (32.7 per cent) than Leicester (30.6), contributing to a conversion rate of just 6.9 per cent.

When Kante then left for Chelsea at the end of 2015-16, struggling Leicester waited only until January before signing another tough tackler in Wilfred Ndidi, one of just two players – the other being Gueye – to have since registered 130 or more tackles in a single Premier League season (each doing so twice).

In that time, nobody has been able to match Kante's title-winning mark.

Will Lionel Messi stay or leave?

The superstar Barcelona captain is set to become a free agent, though the LaLiga giants are determined to re-sign Messi.

Paris Saint-Germain are interested but Messi could reportedly extend his Camp Nou career.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI SET FOR BARCA STAY?

Lionel Messi is closer to staying at Barcelona than joining Paris Saint-Germain, according to L'Equipe.

Messi's future has dominated headlines, with his contract due to expire at season's end amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Barca are keen to re-sign Messi, who is encouraged by the Copa del Rey triumph and Joan Laporta's plans, despite an offer from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Barca have reached out to PSG regarding a possible reunion with Neymar, however, RAC1 says the Ligue 1 holders are not willing to sell the Brazilian superstar.

Everton are plotting a bid for soon-to-be free agent and City star Sergio Aguero, reports the Daily Star. Aguero will leave the Etihad Stadium on a free transfer and the forward has been linked with Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter and Tottenham.

- Fabrizio Romano says Leicester City are working on a deal to sign Lille star Boubakary Soumare, who has previously been linked with Manchester United, Tottenham, Inter and Napoli.

- The Sun claims Borussia Dortmund have joined United and PSG in the battle sign Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White.

- Sky Sport Italia claims Milan ultras met with star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and demanded he sits out the fixture against Serie A rivals Juventus if he does not renew his contract. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent and he is yet to re-sign amid reports he is in talks with Juve. The Italy international has also been linked with United, Chelsea and PSG.

United are prepared to sell Paul Pogba if he does not commit to a new contract, according to The Sun. Juve and Real Madrid are reportedly eyeing the French star. It comes as The Sun also claims United are not willing to part ways with Donny van de Beek following a difficult first season at Old Trafford.

A fine week could yet get better for Manchester City, who may clinch the Premier League title this weekend.

But any celebrations will take place in their living rooms, rather than on the pitch.

If City win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, they will be keenly watching on Sunday as Liverpool travel to Manchester United.

A peculiar development could see reigning champions Liverpool beat their bitter rivals to hand their own crown to City.

It would be the sixth time the Premier League title has been settled at Old Trafford, the most of any stadium, while City's 2017-18 success was also confirmed by a United home defeat – to West Brom on that occasion.

This could be the 11th occasion in the competition's history the championship has been secured with the victors watching from elsewhere.

Using Opta data, we run through four of the most memorable examples.

Arsenal 0-3 Middlesbrough: Gunners giftwrap United's title

It was a case of when not if United would win the title in 2000-01, but rivals Arsenal might still have preferred to put up more of a fight.

A quite remarkable defeat to Middlesbrough saw the Gunners score two of their opponents' three goals for them. It is one of just two occasions in Premier League history Arsenal have scored two own goals in the same game (also v Blackburn in 2011).

Brazilian pair Edu and Sylvinho were the guilty parties, meaning this remains the only occasion two non-British players from the same country have scored own goals for the same team in a Premier League match.

Arsenal 2-3 Leeds United: Highbury delight again for Fergie

United's run of three straight championships was ended in 2001-02 with defeat against Arsenal at Old Trafford, but the Gunners' own home was the setting again 12 months later when Alex Ferguson's side reclaimed their crown.

Ian Harte grabbed one of three Leeds goals, scoring direct from a free-kick at Highbury for the third season running. No other player in Premier League history has done so in three straight away games against an opponent.

United's triumph was sealed by Mark Viduka, though, his 88th-minute winner the latest from an away player at Highbury since Roy Keane's August 1999 effort for United. Arsenal did not concede a decisive goal as late again at home in the Premier League before their 2006 move to Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham: Spurs implode to prompt Vardy party

Sunday's match at Old Trafford comes five years to the day since the 'Battle of the Bridge', an epic affair that had Leicester City's players celebrating a stunning success from Jamie Vardy's house.

Tottenham needed to win to keep their hopes alive and raced into a two-goal lead at the home of Chelsea, champions a year earlier but awful in their title defence.

An extraordinary collapse followed. Spurs had nine players booked – one of them, Mousa Dembele, was later suspended for six games for an eye gouge – as the Blues battled back and Eden Hazard's first home league goal in a day shy of a year sealed Leicester's triumph.

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: Blues at it again at the Bridge

Stamford Bridge provided the scene again last season as Liverpool's first Premier League title win was confirmed. It meant three of the past six titles had been decided at Chelsea's home, including the Blues' own triumph against Crystal Palace in 2014-15 and the Tottenham game the following season.

With Chelsea also sealing the title with a win at West Brom in 2016-17, they have been involved in four of the past six clinching matches.

Willian's penalty secured the points after a Fernandinho red card, and Guardiola will be glad to this year avoid a late-season trip to SW6, where he has a joint-high four away defeats in his coaching career. City do still have to welcome Chelsea to Manchester, though, and each are well-placed in their respective Champions League semi-finals.

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