New Manchester City signing Sergio Gomez highlighted the key role club legend Vincent Kompany played in shaping his career and recent move to the Etihad Stadium.

Gomez joined City from Anderlecht for a reported fee of £11million (€13m) on Tuesday to become Pep Guardiola's fourth signing of the transfer window after Kalvin Phillips, Erling Haaland and Stefan Ortega.

The left-back was instrumental for the Belgian side under Kompany last season, racking up 49 appearances and registering 15 assists along the way.

Kompany enjoyed a hugely successful spell with City between 2008 and 2019, winning 12 trophies, including four Premier League titles and two FA Cups.

And Gomez, who spent his youth career with Barcelona before a stint at Borussia Dortmund, received the former skipper's blessing before completing his move to the Etihad.

"I talked to [Kompany] a few days ago when I knew about City's interest in signing me," the 21-year-old told the club's official website.

"He was very happy for me; he told me this would be a huge step in my career and that I was making the right decision by coming here.

"It's a big step for me. I'm really happy that [City] showed interest in signing me, and I'm going to give my best to show on the pitch that I deserve to be here, and I hope we can achieve big things together.

"I think I've grown in every step of my career, I hope to continue doing so here at City. I'm here to learn and help this team as much as I can."

Previously a wide or central midfielder, Gomez also spoke about how he has not looked back since Kompany converted him into a left-back at Anderlecht last term. 

"He called me and said I could do very well in that position," the Spain Under-21 international continued.

"To be honest, I was a little bit surprised, I didn't expect it, but he seemed very sure about the decision, and that gave me confidence.

"I will always be thankful to Vincent for the opportunity; I'm still playing as a left-back and I really enjoy it."

Manchester City favourite Pablo Zabaleta believes Pep Guardiola's men have signed the world's best player in Erling Haaland, as he refuted suggestions departing winger Raheem Sterling was a club legend.

Having scored a remarkable 86 goals in 89 appearances during a two-year spell at Borussia Dortmund, Haaland agreed to sign for City in May before officially joining the Premier League champions on July 1.

In his final campaign with the Bundesliga outfit, Haaland scored 29 goals in 30 games in all competitions, putting away 65.8 per cent of his big chances as he became one of world football's hottest properties.

Haaland is part of a City squad embarking on a pre-season tour of the United States, and could make his bow when they face Mexican giants Club America in Texas on Thursday.

Zabaleta, who made 333 appearances for the club between 2008 and 2017, believes City have acquired the world's finest in the Norwegian striker, and hopes his arrival will fire Guardiola's team to a first Champions League title. 

"He's a big lad, eh? I saw him and was like, 'wow'," Zabaleta told Sky Sports. "He was one of the main players on the market and a lot of top teams were looking to sign him.

"We're all very pleased to have him at the club, I think he's got that connection already with Man City, because of his dad playing for the club.

"For me, I would say he's the best player in the world. 

"He's a world-class player, he's a great signing, the same as Kalvin Phillips. Fernandinho left and the club needed to bring someone in to replace him. He's been really good at Leeds.

"All the players have been doing everything they can to make the club better, domestically they won everything, they have been very successful [and] dominated English football for the last 10 years.

"The Champions League is probably one of those competitions the club is looking for. I'm confident, hopefully they can win it soon."

Haaland's arrival has been facilitated by City allowing versatile attackers Sterling and Gabriel Jesus to leave for Premier League rivals Chelsea and Arsenal respectively.

After joining from Liverpool in 2015, Sterling scored 91 goals and recorded 42 assists in 225 Premier League appearances for City.

Only Sergio Aguero with 184 has scored more goals in the competition for the club, while only David Silva (93), Kevin De Bruyne (85) and Aguero (47) have laid on more goals for team-mates.

Sterling also won four league titles, one FA Cup and five EFL Cups with the club, but Zabaleta does not believe that is enough to put him alongside some of the most illustrious names in City's history, as he accused the England forward of showing a lack of respect for City since departing.

"I think the word 'legend' these days in football is a bit overused sometimes," he added. "I think he's done a great job for the club, he came at a very young age, and he's been absolutely brilliant for the club.

"When I say 'legend', for me, it's Silva, Aguero, [Vincent] Kompany, those guys are on a different level. That's why they have statues outside of the club.

"Raheem, he's been great, so we wish him all the best. He went to a team which obviously is a big contender for the Premier League, I wish him all the best, he's a great lad.

"But Man City is always the most important thing and when you come to this club you have to give 100 per cent respect. The moment that you leave you always have to talk nicely to the club that you've been playing for, so I wish he could behave in that way."

Meanwhile, City announced on Tuesday that Sterling's old number seven shirt will be worn by full-back Joao Cancelo during the 2021-22 season.

Burnley manager Vincent Kompany has acknowledged the Clarets were always likely to lose their more valuable players after Premier League relegation.

The 36-year-old former Manchester City defender took over at Turf Moor after leaving Belgian club Anderlecht, where he spent three years.

Burnley are returning to the Championship after spending six years in the Premier League, with Sean Dyche leaving at the back end of the 2021-22 campaign after ten years with the club.

Interim manager Michael Jackson managed to produce an initial bounce, but it was not enough to keep Burnley up as the Clarets suffered relegation on the final day of the season following a home defeat to Newcastle United.

As such, Burnley are expected to cash in on their high-profile players in the transfer window. Goalkeeper Nick Pope has already left to join Newcastle, while Maxwel Cornet – the club's top scorer in the 2021-22 season – has also been linked with a move away. 

James Tarkowski's contract is expiring and the defender is set to join Everton, while his fellow centre-back Ben Mee is also leaving the club. Dwight McNeil, too, is rumoured to be attracting Premier League interest.

"You always have to expect that some of the more valuable players will move on [after relegation]," Kompany told reporters on Friday.

"We wish them well and are looking forward to bringing in some exciting players.

"It goes with the drop in revenue when you drop out of the Premier League and you have to expect that.

"It is a few players who have perhaps earned the right to move on."

The Clarets are reportedly nearing the signings of Arsenal defender Daniel Ballard, as well as Milton Keynes Dons midfielder Scott Twine.

"We are close to signing a few players," Kompany added. "There is nobody we are bringing in today, I don't think, but we have set up a few medicals."

While his squad seems set to undergo plenty of change, Kompany is excited to get started.

"I have been well received and I have been blending in quite quickly," Kompany added. "I was not in a need to come to Burnley, I had other options.

"We started talking about the problems in the short term and the opportunities long term. I liked how open the ownership were."

Kompany's first competitive match in charge of Burnley comes on July 29 at Huddersfield Town.

Vincent Kompany's reign as Burnley manager will start with a difficult test on the road against Huddersfield Town.

The Championship fixtures for the 2022-23 season were released on Thursday and Kompany's first game with the Clarets, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, comes against defeated play-off finalists Huddersfield.

Burnley's relegation from the top-flight was confirmed on the final day of the season after defeat at home to Newcastle United to bring an end to a six-year spell in the Premier League, with Leeds United surviving following victory at Brentford.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, saw off Luton Town in the Championship play-off semi-finals but lost to Nottingham Forest at Wembley, denying them a return to the Premier League for the first time since the 2018-19 season.

Elsewhere, Watford's first game back in the Championship following relegation comes at home to Sheffield United, while Norwich City are on the road against Cardiff City.

Sunderland, after a four-year stint in League One, mark their return to the second tier against Coventry City, while League One champions Wigan Athletic face Preston North End.

The new season begins on July 29 with Huddersfield's hosting of Burnley and marks the start of a challenging campaign for the 24 teams in the division, who face disruption due to the World Cup in Qatar midway through the season.

 

Former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has been confirmed as the new manager of Burnley following his departure from Anderlecht.

The 36-year-old spent three years in charge of Anderlecht, the first of those as player-manager, prior to stepping aside by mutual consent last month.

He takes over at Turf Moor ahead of Burnley's first season in the Championship since 2015-16 following their relegation from the Premier League.

Sean Dyche was sacked by the Clarets in April after a decade in charge, with interim boss Mike Jackson unable to keep the club in the top flight.

Burnley confirmed the appointment on their official website on Tuesday, though they did not announce the length of the contract signed by the Belgian.

Kompany said: "Burnley Football Club is a truly historic English side and it is an honour to be appointed first-team manager. I'm excited by the challenge ahead.

"I'm looking forward to getting to work with the players and creating a positive, winning team for our fans when we return to Turf Moor.

"I've been impressed by the board's vision for the club which aligns with my own and I look forward to playing my part as we enter an important season."

Kompany finished third in the Belgian First Division last term to guide Anderlecht back into Europe, while also reaching the domestic cup final, where his side lost on penalties to Gent.

Prior to moving into coaching, Kompany enjoyed a 17-year playing career with Anderlecht, Hamburg and City, winning 10 major trophies across 11 seasons with the latter.

"We are absolutely delighted to welcome Vincent to Burnley Football Club," chairman Alan Pace said.

"Vincent is a proven leader and I've been very impressed with his ideas for Burnley Football Club, his appetite to succeed and his focus on leading the club back to the Premier League.

"Vincent has shown impressive credentials in leading one of Belgium's biggest teams back to European football and a cup final last season and we've been excited by his philosophy, approach and ambition for the club."

Manchester City great Vincent Kompany has left his post as Anderlecht head coach amid reports linking him with the vacant manager's position at Burnley.

Kompany returned to Anderlecht – whose academy he was a graduate of – in 2019 in a player-manager capacity as the club looked to rebuild, though he soon switched focus to playing duties.

A year later, in August 2020, he was appointed as the club's head coach after bringing his playing days to a close.

Anderlecht could only finish as high as fourth in the 2020-21 Belgian Pro League season, before ending the 2021-22 campaign third.

Although Kompany signed a four-year deal in 2020, he leaves the club having failed to win Anderlecht a first league title since 2016-17, with Club Brugge winning four out of a possible five.

Anderlecht insisted Kompany's departure was a "mutual" decision.

A statement read: "The club and the coach have analysed the past season and discussed the plans for the future. The two parties have decided to part ways in mutual consent. This decision was taken with a lot of mutual respect and gratitude for everything that has been achieved together.

"The club wishes Vincent Kompany all the best in his further career as a coach. He was, is and will remain an icon of the club and will always find a home at Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht."

Kompany added: "Today only one feeling prevails: I am proud that I was able to start this new chapter at the club of my heart.

"I have now been a player and a coach of RSC Anderlecht, but above all I remain a loyal fan."

Widespread reports earlier on Wednesday suggested Kompany has already secured his next job, with a move back to English football seemingly on the cards.

Burnley brought Sean Dyche's 10-year tenure to an end in April as they looked to stave off relegation from the Premier League.

Caretaker manager Mike Jackson initially inspired an improvement, but it was not enough as they ultimately dropped back to the second tier for the first time since 2015-16.

Paul Scholes and Didier Drogba lead the latest slate of inductees to the Premier League Hall of Fame, it was announced on Thursday.

Former Manchester United midfielder Scholes and ex-Chelsea striker Drogba head the remaining six names of the Class of 2022.

Patrick Vieira and Wayne Rooney had already been announced as two of the eight players to be bestowed with the honour, following last year's inaugural group of players.

They are joined now by Scholes and Drogba, alongside Arsenal legend Ian Wright, ex-Red Devils goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany.

Widely acclaimed as the greatest midfielder of his generation, Scholes – a one-club man between 1993 and 2013 – won the Premier League 11 times during his playing days.

Drogba, who spent two different spells with the Blues, proved a cornerstone of Chelsea's elevation to regular contenders in the competition.

Wright helped Arsenal to the title in 1997-98 before a brief spell with West Ham and remains the Gunners' second-highest scorer ever, behind only previous inductee Thierry Henry.

Schmeichel, who remains the only goalkeeper to win the Premier League Player of the Year Award, in 1995-96, is the first shotstopper to be inducted.

Kompany, a four-time Premier League winner during an acclaimed spell at City, helped usher in the team's modern era of dominance.

Aguero, meanwhile, is the highest-scoring overseas player in Premier League history, having scored 184 goals in just 275 appearances.

The six players were inducted via a public ballot, after Vieira and Rooney had been selected as automatic picks.

The Premier League will reach a new milestone on Sunday when Manchester City face Liverpool in a titanic title tussle.

This will be the 50th match between the top two teams in the division in the competition's history, with City boasting a one-point advantage over Liverpool heading into this encounter.

Victory would move Jurgen Klopp's men top for the first time since October, having trailed by as many as 14 points back in January.

Of the 49 previous top-two meetings, the leaders have come out on top in 20, 11 have been drawn and 18 won by the second-placed team – including one of only two previous examples when City and Liverpool have been the sides at the summit. City thrashed newly crowned champions Liverpool 4-0 in July 2020.

The title race may already have been run on that occasion, but the hunters have consistently fared better than the hunted in such clashes across recent seasons.

The top team have beaten their nearest rivals in only one of the past eight matches to take place in the final 10 games of a season.

Consensus has it that victory for Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium – following that theme – would be followed by a successful title charge for the Reds.

But it has not always been so straightforward, as Stats Perform analyses a history of Premier League title deciders.

United rewarded for holding their nerve (1992-97)

Manchester United won four of the first five Premier League titles after three times holding their nerve against fellow contenders during the run-in.

Norwich City may now prop up the table, but they led the way at the start of April in the inaugural 1992-93 campaign, while United were back in third.

Although that is not the latest eventual champions have emerged from outside the top two – City were third at the start of May in 2013-14 – United had to do it the hard way by heading to Carrow Road in their next match.

Their performance there set the standard for two decades of dominance, as a scintillating first-half display saw three stunning breakaway goals in a 3-1 win. Five days later, Steve Bruce scored a pair of famous late goals against Sheffield Wednesday and United were top.

Alex Ferguson's side retained their title despite losing late in the next campaign to Blackburn Rovers, who were themselves champions the following season, but one of the most notable deciders went United's way in 1995-96. The Red Devils had trailed Newcastle United by 12 points in January but knew a win at St James' Park would trim the deficit to a single point.

That was exactly how it played out, too, as Eric Cantona – who created the first and netted the third at Norwich in 1993 – hit a winner against the run of play.

That was the start of a career-best run of six games in a row in which Cantona scored and the first of five consecutive United goals that came courtesy of their talisman – a feat since repeated only three times (Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007 and Robin van Persie in 2013). Four of the six games ended 1-0.

Newcastle would also end 1996-97 as United's closest challengers, but it was the turn of Liverpool – who finished fourth – to blow a big lead.

The gap to United was 10 points in December, when Ferguson's side were sixth, yet Liverpool were two points behind by the time they welcomed their rivals to Anfield in mid-April. A pair of David James errors gave the visitors a precious victory en route to another title triumph.

Double delight for Arsenal at Old Trafford (1997-2004)

From the 1997-98 season onwards, United had consistent title rivals in Arsenal. And although United finished top in four of the next seven seasons to Arsenal's three, there were a pair of painful defeats for Ferguson.

While Newcastle's collapse from 12 points in front is most widely remembered – chiefly because the Magpies are still to win the Premier League – the competition record belongs to United's class of 1997-98, who allowed Arsenal to make up a 13-point deficit in the first season after Cantona's retirement.

There were still nine points between the sides before they met at Old Trafford in mid-March, but Arsenal had three games in hand and won 1-0 courtesy of a Marc Overmars goal – their first away to United in the Premier League – that capped a dazzling individual display. They led the table a month later.

That season ended with a double for Arsenal, and so too did the 2001-02 campaign, in which they again claimed a 1-0 victory at United. The Sylvain Wiltord-inspired success, days after winning the FA Cup, came in the penultimate game of the season and made Arsenal champions.

It was the first of only two occasions on which the title has been won in a match between two teams who were still in the running, while the top two in the Premier League have never met later in a campaign.

Chelsea take challenge to United (2004-2011)

Chelsea replaced Arsenal as perennial threats to United and their second consecutive title in 2005-06 was sealed with a 3-0 win over Ferguson's men, although the championship was essentially a formality at that point.

Meetings in subsequent years were more keenly contested. There was precious little between the two teams in 2007-08, when the Champions League final was decided on penalties, and a late-season Chelsea win at Stamford Bridge moved the teams level on points. However, the Blues' inferior goal difference and final-day draw with Bolton Wanderers allowed United to take the title regardless.

It was a different story in 2009-10, though. There was just a point separating leaders United from chasing Chelsea this time, and an away win at Old Trafford through goals from Joe Cole and Didier Drogba put the Blues in command, able to themselves seal the deal on the final day.

And yet the two dominant teams of this era were not done there. A May meeting back at Old Trafford the following season could have seen Chelsea snatch the championship away from United again, but Javier Hernandez scored inside a matter of seconds to set the Red Devils on course for a victory that crucially moved them six clear. That represents the last time the leaders beat the second-placed team during the run-in.

City serene since crucial Kompany winner (2011-2022)

United have won the title only once since 2010-11, while neighbours City have been crowned on five occasions in that time – and they have largely avoided the drama Ferguson's side made their benchmark.

Of course, their breakthrough triumph in 2011-12 was an exception to that, as City had to beat United even before Sergio Aguero's last-day heroics. Vincent Kompany's header moved the teams level on points, with goal difference vitally working in his side's favour.

Only four times since then have the top two faced off over the final 10 matches of the season, including Liverpool's 2013-14 defeat to Chelsea when neither team won the title and City's 2019-20 thrashing off the Reds when the league had already been settled.

City, in 2012-13, and United, in 2017-18, each claimed away derby wins that restored pride but could not prevent title processions. United's win at least denied City the delight of clinching the title against their neighbours.

The closest City and Liverpool have come to a true decider might be a January epic in 2018-19, but that should all change on Sunday.

Vincent Kompany said he was “disgusted” after being racially abused during Anderlecht's 2-2 draw with Club Brugge on Sunday.

The former Manchester City captain, now manager of Anderlecht, stated after the game that players and coaches were verbally abused throughout.

"I go home disgusted and disappointed. My players, my staff and I were victims of racist insults," the 35-year-old told broadcaster Eleven Sports.

"I want to get together with my staff, to be with the people who matter to me. We should not still have to experience this today."

Club Brugge, who were in the same Champions League group as Manchester City this season, released a statement after the game condemning the actions of their fans, saying: "Club Brugge, its fans, staff, players and board, strongly condemn any form of racism.

"These individuals are not representative of the values and norms of our club, and do not have their place at Jan Breydel Stadium."

On Monday, Club Brugge said the club would do all they can to identify those responsible and seek to impose stadium bans.

Kompany won two Belgian league titles as a player at Anderlecht before going on to win four Premier League titles with City, as well as two FA Cups and four EFL Cups during his time at the Etihad Stadium, before heading back to Anderlecht as player-coach in 2019. He retired from playing in 2020 to focus on managerial duties.

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku posted support for his former Belgium team-mate on Instagram, and demanded a firm response from the football authorities.

"An icon like Vincent Kompany has been insulted because of his skin colour," Lukaku wrote. "Enough is enough ... take real action now."F

Anderlecht have announced that Craig Bellamy will leave his role as Vincent Kompany's assistant coach to deal with mental health problems. 

Bellamy, who talked extensively about his long battle with depression last year, had been part of the Anderlecht coaching staff since 2019. 

The 42-year-old has been working as former Manchester City team-mate Kompany's right-hand man since earlier this year, but he will officially step aside on Monday. 

A statement on Anderlecht's website on Sunday read: "Assistant coach Craig Bellamy will leave the coaching staff of RSC Anderlecht on Monday.  

"Bellamy already struggled with mental problems in the past and these have resurfaced again recently.  

"With his departure, the Brit took a very difficult, but absolutely necessary decision concerning his health.  

"Bellamy said goodbye to the players in the dressing room on Sunday afternoon after the 7-2 victory against KV Mechelen." 

Former Wales international Bellamy retired from football in 2014 following a second spell with hometown club Cardiff City. 

He moved into coaching with Cardiff at academy level before departing in January 2019 and taking up a similar position with Anderlecht. 

Following the news of Bellamy's departure, Kompany added: "Craig has long struggled with his mental health. Now the monster is back there.  

"Health is above football. We are obligated to give him the chance to get well." 

Vincent Kompany says he is humbled after Manchester City unveiled a permanent statue of their former captain at the Etihad Stadium.

Kompany and ex team-mate David Silva have been honoured for their remarkable services to the club with large-scale statues on the east side of the stadium.

Created by sculptor Andy Scott, they were constructed using thousands of welded pieces of galvanised steel, and will be specially illuminated with blue-tinted lighting.

After joining from Hamburg in August 2008, Kompany made 320 appearances during 11 years with City, scoring 20 goals.

The Belgian captained the club to four Premier League titles – including their first top-flight success in 44 years in 2012 – as well as four EFL Cups and the 2019 FA Cup.

Kompany, now the Anderlecht boss, is honoured by the recognition he has received.

"I didn't really expect to be recognised by such a great club in that way," he told City's official website.

"My wife is from Manchester, my kids are born in Manchester, and they go back to a place where they can see something that represents what their Dad has achieved and that is something that I can't describe.

"The first time I saw the statue, I couldn't believe how big it was, but then again, I'm a big boy, so fair enough!

"And then especially the pose, for me it means a lot."

He later added on Twitter: "So grateful, humbled and at the same time sad I couldn't be there today. I am dedicating every minute I have to @rscanderlecht.

"I promise I'll be back to visit as soon as I can. Meanwhile, keep the pigeons away from those arms."

Manchester City will unveil statues of former players Vincent Kompany and David Silva ahead of Saturday's Premier League fixture against Arsenal with another of Sergio Aguero to follow in 2022.

The trio have been key players during City's emergence as a football superpower and played crucial roles on the pitch.

Kompany, now head coach of Anderlecht, captained City to the Premier League title in 2011-12, their first English league championship in 44 years.

The Belgian won three more in 2013–14, 2017–18, 2018–19 in addition to two FA Cups and four League Cups.

Aguero, who left City at the end of last season and joined Barcelona, is City's all-time leading goalscorer with 260 goals.

The most famous of the Argentina striker's goals dramatically delivered that first Premier League title with virtually the last kick of the game against QPR.

Spanish midfielder Silva, now at Real Socieded, was also instrumental in City's success and made 436 appearances in all competitions for the club between 2010 and 2020.

Award-winning sculptor Andy Scott was the artist commissioned to create the statues on behalf of City.

City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said the decision to honour the three players was based on their unparalleled contribution to the club's transformation.

He told City's website: "Ultimately, Vincent and David do not need statues to enshrine their achievements at Manchester City over the past decade. They are already revered as icons of their generation.

"But what these artworks give us, and generations to come, is the opportunity to be reminded of, and savour, the truly magical moments created by both men.”

Al Mubarak has since indicated that further work is being undertaken to ensure the legends of earlier eras are appropriately celebrated.

Scott added: "On hearing that I had secured the commission to bring Vincent, David and now Sergio to life in sculpture form, I was absolutely thrilled.

"It's an unbelievable honour to work on something that will be visited by hundreds of thousands of fans as they remember and celebrate the achievement of their footballing heroes."

Albert Sambi Lokonga's football intelligence can be a huge asset to Arsenal after the Belgium Under-21 international won the admiration of a Premier League great.

Mikel Arteta made Lokonga his second signing of the close season on Monday - the Gunners wrapping up a deal reported to be worth an initial £15million with Anderlecht.

Lokonga was coached by Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht and Arteta, who worked with the ex-Manchester City captain when he was part of Pep Guardiola's staff, did the expected background work on the highly rated midfielder.

"Albert is a very intelligent player who has shown great maturity in his performances during his development," Arteta told his club's official website.

"He has been coached well by Vincent Kompany and his team at Anderlecht. I know Vincent very well and he talks so highly about Albert and the positive impact he had to Anderlecht in recent seasons.

"We're confident Albert's ready for the next stage in his development and we’re looking forward to welcoming a new member to our squad with his quality and presence."

Lokonga made his Belgian Pro League debut in December 2017 and Opta statistics from his performances since then measure up well to those produced by Arsenal players over the same period.

Noted for his ability to play in front of the defence, the 21-year-old made 115 tackles and won 77 in 69 league appearances.

Somewhat predictably, Granit Xhaka is the only Arsenal player to have racked up more – 195 tackles and 114 won – during this time, although the Switzerland star did so over 111 games.

Lucas Torreira, who spent last season on loan at Atletico Madrid, perhaps provides a better point of comparison. In 63 Premier League games for the Gunners, the combative Uruguay international made 98 tackles and won 70.

Of Arsenal outfield players to have featured in 30 or more league games since December 2017, only the now departed Shkodran Mustafi (64.29 per cent) has a better duel success rate than Lokonga (60.7).

Overall, he has won possession 414 times – again a figure only bettered by Xhaka on 746, with Torriera (327) off the pace set by the new signing.

Lokonga is also accomplished in possession, with 86.1 per cent passing accuracy and 67 chances created in the top-flight for Anderlecht suggesting he is not afraid of operating in a progressive manner on the ball.

Xhaka, while continuing to bear in mind his greater game time, has made 94 key passes during the time in question, with attackers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the only other current Arsenal players to have supplied more.

Manchester City defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis has joined Anderlecht on a season-long loan.

The 19-year-old is linking up with former City captain Vincent Kompany, who is preparing for his second full season in charge as coach at Lotto Park.

Kompany successfully called on his former club for help last term, taking Lukas Nmecha on a temporary deal spanning the 2020-21 campaign.

The German went on to score 18 goals in 37 league appearances over the course of his stay in Belgium.

Now the hope will be that Harwood-Bellis, who spent the back half of last season in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers, can make a similar positive impact.

The teenager, who joined City's academy at the age of six, has made senior appearances for the club so far.

On his arrival, Anderlecht sporting director Peter Verbeke said: "Taylor is a young central defender who already plays with a lot of personality and maturity.

"His training at City, together with experience in the Championship, makes him a player who is good on the ball and who has a lot of aggressivity and audacity."

Manchester City are not ready to put a date on Sergio Aguero's return to action, yet Pep Guardiola expects the club's record goalscorer to "help us in the decisive moments" this season.

Aguero underwent meniscus surgery last June and then saw a hamstring injury hamper his initial comeback in October.

These issues have limited the 32-year-old to just nine appearances in all competitions this season, which have yielded two goals.

Aguero also had to self-isolate earlier in January when he was set for an outing in the FA Cup and last week revealed he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Into the final six months of his City contract, Guardiola is keen to have Aguero back available, although he detailed how the striker was laid low by the effects of COVID-19.

"The important thing is when we text him during the first three, four days, he struggled, he felt so tired, but today he sent a message to the backroom staff to say he feels much better," Guardiola said ahead of Tuesday's trip to West Brom.

"Now he needs to test negative and abide by the protocols, and then start to come back here and move and see how he feels, day by day.

"I cannot tell you [when he will be back], I don't know how he will react in the first days when we start to train."

There have been only three starts for Aguero this term, with his pitch time a meagre 260 minutes overall.

The Argentina international has scored with both of his shots in the Champions League but failed to register in the Premier League, having four efforts across five outings and passing up a big chance with his only shot on target against Newcastle United.

A contract extension remains on the agenda, though, and Guardiola sees Aguero rediscovering the scoring touch that has so far brought 256 goals in 316 games for City, netting with 19 per cent of his attempts.

"I don't know when he is coming back, February or March, but I'm so optimistic that he will give us until the end of the season some good, good months," Guardiola said. "I'm so optimistic.

"He is going to help us in the decisive moments, to give us the goals and the difference that we need. I'm so confident it's going to happen."

In 2018-19, as Vincent Kompany entered the final months of his contract, the former City captain put long-term injury troubles behind him to play a key role in their most recent title success.

Guardiola was asked if the plan was for Aguero to have a similar impact and replied: "Hopefully. Hopefully it's going to happen.

"But at the same time, Vincent had an incredible quality; after being two months injured in the gym, he can go out and play one training session and play incredibly well.

"Sergio doesn't know if he has this quality to immediately go out and do it. He needs the special sharpness and the first steps for this quality to score a goal, but it depends on him.

"At the end, we'll see him in the training session and on the pitch and it's easy to realise if he's fit or not.

"But hopefully he can help us with the special quality he has. That's why he is one of the best strikers ever - not just in England, all the time in football history."

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