Pep Guardiola says Manchester City could not afford Harry Maguire and believes the defender can help rivals Manchester United mount a Premier League title challenge.
England international Maguire is on the verge of moving to Old Trafford from Leicester for a fee in the region of £80million.
United finished 32 points adrift of champions City last season but Guardiola expects Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to close the gap and be one of “many, many contenders” this term.
“Maguire is an excellent, top-class player,” said the City boss after beating Liverpool on penalties to lift the Community Shield.
“We were interested but we could not afford it. United afforded it.
“He’s an excellent player, he made an incredible World Cup (in 2018), he’s strong in the air, good with the ball in the build-up and he’s so fast.
“Congratulations for United for this signing.
“I don’t know if it will be like last season, two real contenders – Liverpool and us – to win the Premier League.
“I think United with Maguire and the other players they bought, Arsenal as well, and Chelsea, and Tottenham that they won all the pre-season so I think there will be many, many contenders this time.”
Having pipped Liverpool to top spot last season by a single point, City secured a 5-4 shootout success over Jurgen Klopp’s men on Sunday.
Claudio Bravo’s save from Georginio Wijnaldum proved decisive at Wembley after Joel Matip’s second-half header cancelled out Raheem Sterling’s opener in a 1-1 draw.
Guardiola admits there remains little between the two teams.
“They are a top-class team and the difference is one point ahead and one penalty ahead, that is the difference. It’s minor,” he said.
“Sometimes the coin can come on your side, sometimes it cannot so that is why it’s good to face them to see how well prepared we have to be to try to win the title.”
European champions Liverpool arguably had the better of the chances in London and struck the frame of the goal twice before equalising.
Despite the result, Reds boss Klopp felt his side’s attacking intent bodes well for the upcoming campaign, which starts at home to newly-promoted Norwich on Friday.
“Football-wise, the second half was just really, really good, the best way you can play against City,” said the German.
“They are in the early stages as well, they will be in a different shape in a couple of weeks, for sure.
“But having this amount of chances we had is a very good sign for us, absolutely.”
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Arsenal’s final pre-season friendly ended in a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang produced a spectacular finish to power the Gunners into the lead but miscommunication between Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bernd Leno forced an own-goal under the former’s name. Luis Suarez came off the bench to score the winner in the dying moments of the game with an acrobatic finish.
We take a look at how the Arsenal players performed.
Bernd Leno – Hardly tested, most of Barcelona’s shots in the first half were directed at him. Deserves a small chunk of the blame for the own-goal. 5
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – An own-goal ruined what was a sensational defensive performance in the first half. 6
Calum Chambers – Did well to hold the fort in times of persistent attacking moves by Barcelona. One of the best players in an Arsenal shirt. 8
Sokratis – Solid defensive performance, managed to keep Antoine Griezmann out of the game. 7
Nacho Monreal – Had trouble dealing with the duo of Ousmane Dembele and Nelson Semedo and could have added more in attack. 5
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Positioned narrower than usual, should have done better in the central midfield position. 6
Granit Xhaka – Poor display from the Switzerland international, outplayed by other midfielders around him. 5
Joe Willock – Promising display in by the youngster, linked well with his team-mates. 7
Nelson – Produced promising moments at times, but no stand-out end-product. 6
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Scored with a spectacular finish, tracked back to defend during lengthy spells of Barcelona possession. 9
Mesut Ozil – Switched play well and produced some dangerous passes including the assist to Aubameyang. 8
Matteo Guendouzi – Great work-rate, provided exactly what Arsenal needed amid huge spells of Barcelona possession. 7
Sead Kolasinac – Involved in an interesting contest with Moussa Wague which mostly ended 50-50, producing no winner. 6
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been ruled out of the start of the new season with a hamstring injury.
The England international picked up the problem in training and boss Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed he will not be fit for the Premier League opener against Aston Villa next Saturday.
It will come as a big blow to the 23-year-old, who was beset by hamstring problems last season and Pochettino admits it is a concern.
The boss, who saw his side conclude their pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw against Inter Milan, said: “I don’t believe he’s going to be ready for the start of the season.
“It’s the same area. Yes, of course we are worried. He’s still so young. Just 23-years-old and many, many hamstring problems in the last few years.
“It’s to pay attention to what is going on in his body, but we are here to try to help him. Think (it is a) minor injury. Only a few weeks before he can be available again and be with the group.”
With less than a week until the transfer window shuts, Tanguy Ndombele remains the only signing that will impact the first team this summer and Pochettino expressed his frustration last week when he appeared to distance himself from the club’s dealings.
He offered no new updates on potential incomings, with Giovanni Lo Celso and Bruno Fernandes reported targets, and has not spoken to chairman Daniel Levy in recent days.
“No, he’s in Miami and I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to him,” Pochettino said of Levy.
“I am happy with my squad. You can see today a lot of younger players. In every season we are always open to improve the squad and to try to find the right players to be stronger and better and there are still four days.
“We’ll see what happens in the next few days.”
Spurs fans got their first look at new record signing Ndombele, though the Frenchman did not have a massive impact, beyond an exciting dart into the penalty in the first half.
Pochettino has warned that the midfielder will need time to get used to English football.
“For him it’s difficult,” he said. “We cannot expect too much. We need to accept he needs time to adapt to first a new culture, a new country, new habits.
“Of course it’s only him who arrived to the club and that makes it more difficult. When a few are new they can help each other but it’s only him.
“We need to give him time but I am happy in the way he is adapting. He is open to improve and learn but needs time to see the best version of him.”
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