De Bruyne pushing for Man City return, injury 'less' than expected

By Sports Desk April 21, 2021

Kevin De Bruyne could return to action for Manchester City in Sunday's EFL Cup final against Tottenham after his ankle injury proved not to be as serious as first feared.

De Bruyne limped off early in the second half of last weekend's 1-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, with City manager Pep Guardiola saying the damage "doesn't look good".

The Belgium international was absent as his team-mates came from a goal down and endured a red card for John Stones to beat Aston Villa 2-1 and go 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Appearing visibly relieved before the match in the aftermath of the European Super League collapse, Guardiola reported further good news afterwards when De Bruyne's fitness was raised.

"It [the injury] was less than we expected, yesterday he felt much, much better," he said.

"Today I didn't speak to him but we'll see tomorrow in training."

After attempting to win a fourth consecutive EFL Cup on Sunday, City turn their attentions towards the first leg of a Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain.

"I think if he's not ready for the final, maybe he will be ready for the semi-final of the Champions League," Guardiola said.

Before Wednesday's game, an email attributed to City chief executive Ferran Soriano was sent to club members to apologise for signing up to the swiftly aborted Super League.

Guardiola lambasted the plans as "not sport" before anyone from his club had gone on the record, although he insisted his relationship with Soriano – which goes back to the pair's time together at Barcelona – is not in need of repair.

"I know the guys [on the board] and they don't need to apologise," he said.

"My chairman [Khaldoon Al-Mubarak] and CEO, I know who they are, this is most important. I understand the statement but it's a closed chapter, it's over."

The same might now be said for the Premier League title race, even if John McGinn's goal after 20 seconds threatened to let second-place Manchester Untied back into the hunt.

"It would have been dangeorus if we'd lost, Manchester United are in top form, but we deserve it for what we've done this season," Guardiola added, with man of the match Phil Foden equalising before Rodri headed the decisive goal.

"How incredible they were in the locker room, committed after two defeats. We knew how important it was as preparation for the final and the Champions League.

"It's close in the most difficult season of our lives. We have to finish this chapter, three games and we are champions."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Chelsea, Roma circling for Ronaldo Rumour Has It: Chelsea, Roma circling for Ronaldo

    Although Cristiano Ronaldo's affection for Manchester United is without doubt, his return to Old Trafford has not gone as he might have planned.

    Following Erik ten Hag's arrival, Ronaldo's reported concern over United's apparent lack of transfer activity has made other clubs explore possibilities to sign him.

    Reports suggest that a couple of clubs have already made their interest indirectly known.

    TOP STORY – CHELSEA, ROMA CIRCLING FOR RONALDO

    Chelsea and Roma have expressed their interest in signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United, according to reports.

    The Athletic has reported Chelsea, with Todd Boehly installing himself as interim sporting director after his consortium's takeover of the club, met with Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes to discuss the possibility of his transfer.

    Ronaldo has a year left on his contract, and the possibility of him leaving after only one season has grown with Erik ten Hag's arrival.

    Meanwhile, Retesport are reporting the Giallorossi are keen to sign the 37-year-old, with the Friedkin group looking to reunite him with former boss Jose Mourinho and build on the team's Conference League triumph.

    ROUND-UP

    – In the background, United are increasingly confident they will be able to land Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong for a fee of £69million (€80.2m), Goal reports.

    – Also, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has made contact with Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling, according to the Telegraph.

    – Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks over a deal for Neymar amid Chelsea's interest, per AS.

    – Leeds United are preparing a £26million (€30.2m) bid for Club Brugge's Charles de Ketelaere, the Daily Mail reports.

  • Bellingham would be a 'fantastic signing' for Liverpool, says Barnes Bellingham would be a 'fantastic signing' for Liverpool, says Barnes

    Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham is the exact type of player Liverpool should be targeting and would make a "great signing" for the club.

    That is according to John Barnes, who also told Stats Perform he believes the Reds missed a trick by not bringing in Yves Bissouma, who has now signed for Tottenham.

    Liverpool have already been active this window, having added Darwin Nunez and Fabio Carvalho to their attack to compensate for the loss of Sadio Mane, who has joined Bayern Munich.

    Jurgen Klopp's side continue to be linked with an array of other players, with Dortmund star and England international Bellingham a rumoured target.

    Bellingham has made a big impact for the Bundesliga giants since arriving from Birmingham City two seasons ago, and Barnes would like to see him return to English football.

    "I think he's a fantastic player," Barnes said of Bellingham. "Another player who I like to have thought would have suited Liverpool, but went to Tottenham, is Yves Bissouma.

    "Obviously that's not there anymore because he's gone to Tottenham, but that's the template of the type of midfield player we want. 

    "A hardworking midfield player, probably more defensive than attacking, who may not score many goals but works hard, wins the ball, gets it forward to the front three quickly. 

    "Jude Bellingham is similar [to Bissouma]. He probably has a little bit more quality on the ball. He's English, he's young, that would be a fantastic signing for us. 

    "But it probably isn't going to happen this year. Hopefully next season we could make that signing."

    Despite still being aged 18, Bellingham started 44 games for Dortmund in all competitions in the 2021-22 season – four more than any other player.

    He has also racked up 15 senior caps for England and became the youngest player to represent his country in a major tournament at last year's Euro 2020.

     

    While speculation surrounding Bellingham's future looks set to continue, Liverpool have already spent big to sign Nunez from Benfica.

    The Uruguay international starred in the Primeira Liga and Champions League and will help fill the void left by Mane's move to Bayern.

    Nunez joins Liverpool after netting 48 goals in 85 appearances for Benfica in total, finishing as the top scorer in the Portuguese top flight in the 2021-22 campaign with 26 strikes.

    But while Liverpool may have splashed out a reported £64million (€75m) to sign the striker, with a further £21.4m in potential add-ons, Barnes believes he will need time to adjust.

    "He's coming to a new country, he's young, he's coming to new environments and new team, he has to be given time," Barnes said. 

    "Now if he's like [Diogo] Jota, for example, he hits the ground running, that's a bonus, but I don't expect him to come in and all of a sudden take to the team straightaway.

     

    "We've seen times that players, like [Roberto] Firmino for example, took time to adjust. Thiago [Alcantara] is another who took time to adjust.

    "I think they've done their homework and knowing that they can fit him into the template of what they actually want.

    "But I'm not putting expectations on him all of a sudden to be the best player on the team and for everything to be seamless. 

    "Jurgen Klopp has done his homework and will feel that he can get the best out of him within the framework of the team. So I'm expecting him to be successful in time."

  • Forest sign 15-goal former Liverpool forward Awoniyi in club-record deal Forest sign 15-goal former Liverpool forward Awoniyi in club-record deal

    Newly promoted Premier League club Nottingham Forest have broken their transfer record to sign forward Taiwo Awoniyi.

    Forest, who have returned to the top flight for the 2022-23 season after 23 years away, reportedly triggered a £17.2million (€20m) release clause in Awoniyi's Union Berlin contract.

    The Nigeria international spent six years at Liverpool but only received a UK work permit last year, shortly before departing for Union in a permanent transfer.

    Liverpool are reportedly due to receive 10 per cent of the fee paid by Forest for Awoniyi, who scored 15 times in 31 Bundesliga games last season.

    In all competitions, the striker – who spent the previous campaign on loan at Union and was also linked to Newcastle United – netted 20 goals in 43 appearances.

    Awoniyi has signed a five-year contract at The City Ground and boosts a side who relied on winger Brennan Johnson as their primary source of goals as they came up through the Championship play-offs. Johnson scored 18 league goals.

    "I'm very excited to be here at Nottingham Forest," said Awoniyi, whose signing surpasses the club's previous record outlay of £13.2m on Joao Carvalho in 2018.

    "It's always been my dream to play in the Premier League, and having spoken to Steve Cooper about our ambitions and looking at Forest, with its great history, it's a club that I want to be part of."

    Awoniyi is widely expected to be followed to Forest by Manchester United and England goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.