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.

 

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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.

Jose Mourinho has vowed to wait for a club with the "right culture" to resume his managerial career after being sacked by Tottenham.

Spurs last week relieved Mourinho of his duties just 17 months after appointing the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United boss.

The London club parted company with the Portuguese just six days before losing 1-0 to Manchester City in the EFL Cup final at Wembley.

Mourinho has signed up to media duties for the upcoming rescheduled Euro 2020 and although he will return to management, the 58-year-old will ensure he waits for right opportunity.

"I have no plans," he told the Times Magazine.

"I am going on with my normal life. I feel fresh. I feel calm. I am on holiday.

"I have more time to be doing my homework and analysis. I'll wait to be back in football.

"Not just for the right club, but for the right culture. Maybe next season is premature, we will see."

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is the favourite to replace Mourinho at Tottenham, with Ryan Mason in charge until the end of the season.

The Tottenham manager's job would be "appealing for anyone", according to interim boss Ryan Mason, who insists Spurs are a "big club".

Mason has been filling in since the dismissal of Jose Mourinho earlier this month and oversaw Sunday's EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City.

In Mason's short time at the helm, two supposed candidates for the role have taken up other options, with Julian Naglesmann set to swap RB Leipzig for Bayern Munich and Erik ten Hag extending his Ajax deal.

That has left Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers as the favourite to take the job and Mason believes it is an opportunity that any coach would be interested in.

"This is Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, there's always going to be interest," the 29-year-old said.

"We have the best stadium in the world, in my opinion, and also we have the best training complex in the world, in my opinion.

"It's a fantastic group of players, a fantastic fanbase as well, so of course it's going to be appealing for anyone.

"It's a great football club. I'm probably biased because I'm very passionate about it, but it's a big club as well."

While speculation continues to swirl around the club, with rumours also rife over Harry Kane's future, Mason wants to retain full focus on the remainder of a Premier League campaign that could yet yield a top-four finish.

Ahead of Sunday's visit of Sheffield United, Spurs sit five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with five games remaining.

"I think there's going to be speculation because of the current situation we're in," Mason added. 

"I don't want to spend too much energy talking about other managers, other people, because at this moment in time I'm the one that's leading the team, I'm the one that's preparing the team, and the players and internally as a football club and everyone associated with us has to be pulling in the same direction for these next five games. 

"We're not thinking about the next manager, we're not thinking about who's coming in, because like I say I and the coaching team at the moment are the people preparing the group of players and that's the most important thing."

Harry Kane "loves" Tottenham and there is no suggestion he needs Champions League football in order to remain with the club, according to interim boss Ryan Mason.

Rumours over the club's star striker have been rife amid another disappointing season for Spurs, whose last hope of silverware vanished with Sunday's EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City.

Kane is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League this season with 21 from 30 games, and his 125-minutes-per-goal ratio better than he has achieved in the previous two similarly prolific top-flight campaigns.

The England captain was named Premier League player of the year at the London Football Awards on Tuesday but pointedly said trophies were more important than individual honours.

"I want to be winning the biggest prizes that there is to offer as a team and we are not quite doing that," he told the Evening Standard.

Spurs' chances of salvaging something noteworthy from this campaign rest on breaking into the top four and securing a seat at Europe's top table, with a five-point gap to fourth-placed Chelsea to overturn.

But Mason, whose side host relegated Sheffield United on Sunday, insists that will not be a decisive factor in Kane's decision-making process.

"I don't think so," he said when asked if Champions League qualification was a must as far as retaining Kane's services goes.

"Harry Kane loves this football club. In the past eight or nine years he has been one of the best strikers in the world. Everyone knows that and we know that and hopefully Harry knows that.

"Harry is a constant professional. There won't be any conversations between me and him about anything other than training and the match ahead."

Regarding the various clubs linked with Kane, including Premier League rivals Manchester City and United, Mason pointed out that such talk was nothing new.

"There's always speculation about the best players in the world," he said. "Harry Kane is one of, if not the best, number nine in the world. Talk has been there for a number of years. We don't need to manage that.

"Harry Kane is one of the most professional guys I've seen in my life. That's the most important thing, the players see a leader in training every day that sets the tone, sets the example and you can only appreciate and applaud that kind of mentality."

Kane has been involved in 34 goals in 30 Premier League games this season (21 goals, 13 assists), only registering more goal involvements in a single campaign in 2016-17.

He has been involved in nine goals in his last six league games (seven goals, two assists), netting three braces in that run. 

Overall, he has scored 38 per cent of his team's top-flight goals this season, with only Sheffield United's David McGoldrick (39 per cent) ahead of him in that regard.

Erik ten Hag has signed a new two-year contract at Ajax, effectively ending speculation linking him to the vacancy at Tottenham.

Ten Hag had been touted as one of Spurs' preferred candidates to be the long-term successor to Jose Mourinho, who was sacked by the north London club last week.

RB Leipzig had also been floated as a possible destination for Ten Hag after Julian Nagelsmann was confirmed as Bayern Munich's next head coach, but Jesse Marsch will take over at the Bundesliga club next season.

Ajax are a point away from retaining the Eredivisie crown they won in 2018-19 as part of a domestic double under Ten Hag – they were top of the table when last season was abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic – and ahead of Sunday's potentially celebratory home game against Emmen, the Amsterdam giants were handed a timely boost.

"We want to work on a successful and attractive Ajax,” Ten Hag told Ajax's official website after committing until June 2023. "I know what I have here and I know the people I work with here. I also know how we can take the next step with this team. I'm happy here."

Ten Hag memorably led Ajax to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018-19, where they suffered a heartbreaking loss to Spurs.

Roma ended their Europa League involvement at the quarter-final stage this time around but the coach is keen to re-establish them as a continental force.

"Getting somewhere is one thing, staying somewhere is another. Ajax is back on the map internationally," Ten Hag said.

"We get the recognition we deserve for that, but we want even more. We want to go even higher and challenge the top clubs in Europe."

Ajax's website noted Ten Hag had received "serious offers from teams abroad" and director of football Marc Overmars is delighted to have extended terms that were set to expire in June 2022.

"I think it is very important for Erik that he sees what is possible with the team and that there is still room for growth," the former Arsenal winger said.

The Premier League elite are playing for prizes, along with Champions League and Europa League places, and at the foot of the table there may still be dreams of a great escape.

Reality brings its rewards and regrets, and managers across England, from Pep Guardiola to Big Sam Allardyce are hoping to end the season on a high note.

For fantasy football managers, the same applies. This is the run-in and the time when marginal gains could count for so much in your own rivalries and leagues come the season's end. One masterstroke signing could make a world of difference and earn those bragging rights.

With that in mind, here is a look at some potentially shrewd picks for the weekend ahead, powered by Opta data.

EDOUARD MENDY

Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy has a long way to go before he can be defined as a Premier League great, but the September arrival from Rennes is making a terrific impact in his debut season. Heading into Saturday's derby with Fulham, Mendy has managed 15 clean sheets from his 27 Premier League games so far, with only Manchester City's Ederson keeping more (17 from 32 games).

Of all goalkeepers to have started at least 25 games in Premier League history, Mendy is the only one to keep a clean sheet in more than half of them (56 per cent). Looking down the list, Ederson has an impressive 49 per cent from 141 games, while former Chelsea and Arsenal shot-stopper Petr Cech had a nifty 46 per cent clean sheet record from 443 appearances.

LUKE SHAW

Tough love did not particularly work for Luke Shaw during Jose Mourinho's reign, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has found a way to unlock the brilliance within Manchester United's left-back, who was a £30million buy as an 18-year-old almost seven years ago.

Shaw, who looks likely to face Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, has been directly involved in six goals (1 goal, 5 assists) in the Premier League this season. That is as many as he managed between the start of the 2016-17 season and the end of the 2019-20 campaign (also 1 goal, 5 assists). He is impressing going forward as well as when defending, so could bring valuable points to your team.

RUBEN DIAS

No Premier League defender has more clean sheets than Ruben Dias this season. With 14 so far, he is level with Aston Villa's Matt Targett. Manchester City stifled Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on Wednesday, but can they keep Crystal Palace's forwards at bay on Saturday?

The Premier League title is almost within City's grasp, and Dias could be a great signing this weekend, but do bear in mind that Guardiola could shuffle his team given the second leg with PSG is coming up on Tuesday.

City have a strong Premier League record against Palace, having won 13 of their last 17 matches (D2 L2) against the Eagles in the competition, earning 10 clean sheets across that run of games.

MATHEUS PEREIRA

Going down with the Baggies? Even if West Brom are relegated, which seems likely, there will surely be top-flight teams eyeing Matheus Pereira.

The Brazilian has been involved in six goals in his last four Premier League games (4 goals, 2 assists), and he enhanced his hero status among supporters when he scored twice - both penalties - in the derby against Wolves earlier this season.

West Brom won that one 3-2 and the teams meet again on Monday. Pereira is a player to keep an eye on in that game.

RAHEEM STERLING

Guardiola rhapsodised about Sterling after Manchester City's win against Tottenham in the EFL Cup final, despite erratic finishing meaning the winger again finished without a goal. He has not scored for City since February, but one could spark a flood, such is his established talent.

Facing Palace could be the ideal game for Sterling, should he be selected this weekend.

The England international has been involved in seven goals in his last seven starts against Palace in the Premier League (6 goals, 1 assist).

AYOZE PEREZ

Kelechi Iheanacho is the striker in form at Leicester City, but in horses for courses terms, Perez might be the man for Friday's clash with Southampton.

Perez has scored more Premier League goals against Southampton than he has against any other side in the competition (7). This includes two hat-tricks against Saints, including one in Leicester’s 9-0 win in this fixture last season.

HARRY KANE

Did Kane look off the pace in the EFL Cup final after his recent ankle knock? It was so hard to tell, given it felt he was constantly having to come looking for the ball, the service to him so inadequate.

If caretaker boss Ryan Mason considered him fit for that one, then it seems safe to expect the Tottenham talisman to face Sheffield United on Sunday, and surely he will find more opportunities against the blunted Blades than he enjoyed against City.

Kane has been involved in 34 goals in 30 Premier League games for Tottenham this season (21 goals, 13 assists), only registering more goal involvements in a single campaign in 2016-17 (36 – 29G 7A). The England striker has been involved in nine goals in his last six league games (7 goals, 2 assists), netting three braces in that run.

Everton have been busy in the transfer market in recent times and they are preparing for another splash.

The Toffees, who are led by two-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti, brought in James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan this season.

Everton remain in the hunt for European football with a top 10 finish looking assured but owner Farhad Moshiri's ambition still burns for more.

 

TOP STORY - EVERTON SET FOR COUTINHO SPLASH

Everton are set to land former Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona in a £35million deal, according to The Sun.

The Toffees are allegedly already house hunting for the 28-year-old Brazilian, who would join countrymen Richarlison, Bernard and Allan at Goodison Park.

Coutinho has never quite settled at Barcelona since leaving Liverpool for Camp Nou in 2018, spending time on loan on Bayern Munich, while he has had injuries this term.

Barcelona are reportedly keen to offload Coutinho, who underwent knee surgery earlier this month, even for a cut-price fee.

 

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- Calciomercato claims that Inter have rebuffed Manchester City's advances for Romelu Lukaku, insisting they are not willing to listen to any offers for the Belgian marksman.

- Aston Villa are monitoring Tammy Abraham's situation at Chelsea after it emerged that Blues are willing to sell him for a reported £40 million price tag, claims The Mirror.

- The Sun reports Brighton's Ben White has attracted interest from Borussia Dortmund who join the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal in pursuing him.

- Tottenham are hoping to speak to Ajax coach Erik ten Hag about taking up their vacant position following Jose Mourinho's sacking, according to The Guardian.

Five high-profile club executives have resigned from their roles on Premier League sub-committees following the European Super League debacle.

Stats Perform News understands Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Liverpool chairman Tom Werner have stepped down from the club broadcast advisory group, while Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has left the audit and remuneration committee.

Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and his Manchester City counterpart Ferran Soriano have both resigned from the club strategic advisory group.

The moves came to light just 11 days after these clubs, and Tottenham, declared on April 18 they would be joining a new Super League competition, which faced scorn before it was formally announced after news leaked out in the preceding hours.

It provoked fury, with the 'closed-shop' element of the proposed new competition set to see six of the Premier League's biggest clubs guaranteed riches far beyond those available to their domestic rivals.

Within 48 hours, the project had collapsed as the Premier League clubs withdrew, but by showing they had been willing to join in the new league, and doing so without consulting others that may be affected, domestic rivals were left incensed.

There were calls for points penalties or financial punishments to be imposed, but those now seem unlikely.

By losing their executive representation on the sub-committees, at the apparent behest of the 14 aggrieved clubs, the influence of the 'breakaway' teams is diminished for now.

It was reported by Sky News last week that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters contacted each of the affected executives and asked them to step down.

Tottenham did not have a representative on the sub-committees, ESPN reported.

United's Woodward is due to leave his Old Trafford role at the end of the year, a decision that was announced following the Super League fiasco but was said by sources not to be a consequence of that episode.

Managers including City's Pep Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp spoke out against the Super League concept, along with many players, fan groups, major football bodies, politicians and even royalty.

The Premier League has made no official comment on the resignations of the executives.

Harry Kane says winning personal honours is "bittersweet" given lifting trophies is his priority as speculation over the Tottenham striker's future rumbles on.

The England captain was named Premier League player of the year at the London Football Awards on Tuesday evening.

Kane continues to set the highest of standards for club and country, but the striker endured more agony when Manchester City beat Spurs 1-0 in the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

The prolific 27-year-old continues to be linked with a move away from his boyhood club and has stated that he will consider his future after Euro 2020.

Kane made his ambition crystal clear after landing another gong.

"Individual awards are great, they are fantastic achievements," he said in an interview with the Evening Standard.

"When I look back at the end of my career, I will go over it and take in a little bit more. The goal right now as a player is to win team trophies. As much as this [award] is great, I want to be winning the biggest prizes that there is to offer as a team and we are not quite doing that.

"It is one of those, it is bittersweet. I would rather be winning team trophies and this award. It is what it is. I am proud to win it. It means it has been a good season on the pitch, so I have just got to try and continue what I am doing."

Kane is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League this season with 21 from 30 games, with his 125 minutes per goal ratio better than he has achieved in the previous two top-flight campaigns.

He is hungry to become the leading Premier League scorer of all time, with another 97 goals needed to pass Alan Shearer's tally of 260, and is 20 goals shy of surpassing Wayne Rooney's record England haul of 53.

Yet he says that gloss would be taken off those achievements if he finishes his career with a lack of trophies.

He said: "When you come to individual achievements, I think that [being the record Premier League goalscorer] is definitely right up there. There have been so many great players over the years in the Premier League.

"You look at the names on the top 10, the top 20 and you think of how many goals and seasons they've played.

"For sure, if I finish my career as Premier League top goalscorer and, hopefully, England top goalscorer, that'd be incredible — but it wouldn't feel as good if I didn't have a lot of team trophies to go with that. If I didn't have the Premier League or a European Championships to go with that.

"From an individual point of view, of course that's the end goal, to try and score as many goals as possible and be at the top of those charts. But, for sure, without winning the biggest trophies as a team, it wouldn't feel as good."

Will Lionel Messi commit to Barcelona or move on? 

The Argentine is out of contract in June and suitors are swirling. 

Paris Saint-Germain appear poised to make a bid. 

 

TOP STORY – PSG LINE UP MESSI BID

PSG are prepared to offer Messi an "unbeatable" contract to make a sensational move from Barca, according to a report from TNT Sports. 

The report claims the Ligue 1 outfit will offer Messi a two-year deal with an option for a third year. 

The club will attempt to convince Messi that joining PSG will give him more chances to win titles. 

 

ROUND-UP 

- Jurgen Klopp could turn to his former club for a boost if Mohamed Salah leaves Liverpool, as Bild reports a bid for Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho a possibility for the Reds. Manchester United also are eyeing Sancho after a failed move for him last year.

- United also remain interested in reuniting Erling Haaland with Ole Gunner Solskjaer, according to the Telegraph. Haaland, now with Dortmund, played for Solskjaer as a teenager at Molde. 

- Tottenham are looking at a pair of options in the shape of Celtic midfielder Ismaila Soro and Fulham centre-back Joachim Andersen, according to the Daily Mail. 

- Juventus centre back Mathhijs de Ligt could be headed to Barcelona, reports Sport, which also says Villarreal goalkeeper Marc Vidal is a possibility for the Camp Nou club. 

Will Cristiano Ronaldo still be at Juventus next season?

Ronaldo's future appears to depend on Juve's Champions League participation.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain loom large for the Portuguese superstar.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD OR PSG FOR RONALDO?

Cristiano Ronaldo is weighing up whether to return to Manchester United or join Paris Saint-Germain if Juventus fail to qualify for the Champions League next season, according to Tuttosport.

Ronaldo's future has dominated headlines amid speculation the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is set to leave Serie A giants Juve at the end of the current campaign.

Initially linked with Real Madrid, Ronaldo is reportedly eyeing either United or PSG in order to play in the Champions League.

 

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- Fabrizio Romano reports RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann is set to replace Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich. Despite interest from Tottenham and other clubs, Nagelsmann has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who must negotiate a fee with Leipzig.

Raphael Varane wants to leave Madrid amid links with Chelsea, United and PSG, claims Diario AS. The France international defender is contracted to the Santiago Bernabeu until next season but Madrid are believed to be willing to cash in on Varane as they look to fund moves for PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Liverpool, United, Manchester City, Juve, Bayern and Barcelona.

- Manchester Evening News says United are interested in Slavia Prague's 21-year-old forward Abdallah Sima.

- The Sun reports England centre-back John Stones is in advanced talks with Premier League leaders City over a new five-year contract.

- Antonio Conte is dreaming of prising Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul to Inter, says Calciomercato. The Argentina international has also been linked with Napoli and Leeds United.

Zinedine Zidane says the idea of Real Madrid being banned from the Champions League for their part in the attempted European Super League breakaway is "absurd".

Madrid were among the 12 founding clubs of the competition that was announced earlier this month, with club president Florentino Perez installed as the Super League's chairman.

But last week, within 48 hours of the plans being confirmed, the six English clubs involved all withdrew, and they were soon followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan. Juventus remain supportive of the Super League but did acknowledge the collapse of the initial proposal.

Madrid and Barcelona have been defiant since, however, adamant their plans still have merit and are not completely dead.

UEFA is threatening to punish all of the 12, but the English clubs withdrawing early could earn them some leniency, though Zidane is not worried about the idea of Madrid being barred from the Champions League next term.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's semi-final first leg with Chelsea, Zidane said: "You have already asked me about all this and I have already answered.

"It is absurd to think that we will not be in the Champions League. There is a lot of talk from outside. There is going to be a lot of talk, but we don't control it, I just focus on the game.

"But my opinion is that we all want to see Madrid in the Champions League."

It was also put to Zidane that UEFA's stance could potentially be reflected by the officials being harsh on Madrid against Chelsea.

"The referee is going to do his job and we are going to play football," he replied. "We just have to think about that.

"If we start to think that what is being said is going to harm us, we are screwed. We are going to compete from minute one to 90. The rest, we don't get involved in."

The Champions League fixture follows a tricky LaLiga title tussle for Madrid, whose 0-0 draw with Real Betis on Saturday seeing them miss out on going top of the table.

With leaders Atletico losing to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and Sevilla beating Granada, just three points separate top from fourth in what is shaping up to be the most thrilling title race in years, but Zidane insists Madrid will not be giving one competition priority over the other.

"We are not going to choose. We are alive in both competitions," he added. "We have had a lot of difficulties this year, but we have always been able to lift ourselves.

"There is a month left and we are going to compete until the end. There is no other thought in my head.

"What we want to do is give everything on the field, without thinking that winning will not be possible."

Pep Guardiola hailed an "incredible performance" from Raheem Sterling, despite the forward's goal drought continuing in Manchester City's EFL Cup final triumph.

City won the EFL Cup for a fourth consecutive season and record-equalling eighth time overall, matching Liverpool's haul, with defender Aymeric Laporte the unlikely goal hero.

Sterling had five goal attempts – the most of any City player – but did not hit the target with any of those, and he has not scored for the club since netting in the 1-0 win against Arsenal in February.

However, the England winger was certainly lively, troubling Serge Aurier with his pace and trickery from early in the contest, when he teed up Phil Foden for a chance that went begging.

That was to become a theme, with City creating but missing a host of chances before Laporte met Kevin De Bruyne's free-kick and powered a header past Hugo Lloris in the 82nd minute.

In terms of xG – Opta's expected goals metric – City had a score of 3.63 while Tottenham's total was just 0.06, reflecting the stark difference between the sides.

Asked about Sterling, Guardiola said the former Liverpool player had been "amazing".

"He showed the opponent we came here to win the game in the first actions. He was incredibly aggressive," said the City boss. "Aurier is a fast defender and they are incredibly good at defending the shot and the blocks. Lloris made some incredible saves but he was brilliant."

Guardiola is sure Sterling will soon start scoring regularly, saying: "We have no doubts of that, the mentality is great, he trained well and he made an incredible performance. He deserves it, he created a lot of chances and made a couple of assists for Ilkay [Gundogan]. All the players were brilliant."

Having become the first manager to win the competition in four consecutive years, Guardiola said City's success was "more than well deserved". There was no denying that, with Tottenham a blunt force going forward despite Harry Kane being passed fit to start after his recent ankle scare.

Now, though, City have more targets in their sights, with the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain coming up on Wednesday. Guardiola admitted that "one eye is always on the Champions League".

And, as the Spaniard pointed out, they need just two more wins from five games to wrap up the Premier League title following Manchester United's 0-0 draw at Leeds United earlier on Sunday.

"Now we just rest and prepare for the semi-final, the first leg against PSG," Guardiola said. "And after we are two games away to try to win the most important title of the season.

"The Premier League is the nicest one and the one I am proud of the most. We are so close. Marcelo Bielsa's team made a good draw against United so we are 10 points clear and need two victories.

"Between the crazy schedule, between games against PSG, we're going to try to win the first one against Crystal Palace."

Guardiola also praised those members of his squad who played no part against Tottenham, including Eric Garcia, the 20-year-old defender who is expected to join Barcelona at the end of the season.

"I would say he is one of my favourite players," former Barcelona head coach Guardiola said. "I'd love to have 15 Eric Garcias, for the way he conducts himself, his behaviour.

"He helps the manager and the backroom staff all the time. When people say the people are unsatisfied if [they] dont play, I think of Eric.

"Most of the time he's not on the bench because he's going to move to Barcelona, I hope so, but I think of them. It's tough, but it is what it is."

Tottenham's Ryan Mason became the youngest manager to take charge of a side in an EFL Cup final at 29 years and 316 days, with the caretaker boss surpassing Gianluca Vialli, who was 33 when he guided Chelsea in the 1998 final.

It was not to be for Mason, who has taken over from the sacked Jose Mourinho and said it was "tough" to see the chance of a trophy slip by.

"The players believed and gave absolutely everything," Mason said. "I thought we rode our luck at times in the first half but defended well, blocked well, but we knew at times we'd have to ride our luck and they'd have long spells of possession.

"It was disappointing to concede from a set-play, but I can't fault the players. They've had a change of manager, a game in midweek, two or three days to prepare for this and work in a completely different way. I've so much pride in those players. They believed and gave everything."

Aymeric Laporte felt Sunday's EFL Cup triumph gave Manchester City a timely confidence boost as they enter a decisive period of their season.

Centre-back Laporte was the unlikely matchwinner against Tottenham at Wembley on Sunday, heading home the only goal from Kevin De Bruyne's 82nd-minute free-kick.

City were back at England's national stadium eight days on from a sapping 1-0 reverse against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Now they will turn their attentions towards a Champions League last-four clash against Paris Saint-Germain, with Manchester United's 0-0 draw at Leeds United earlier on Sunday also meaning Pep Guardiola's men are just two wins away from claiming Premier League glory.

"We are so happy to win this title again," Laporte told Sky Sports after City lifted the trophy for a record-equalling fourth season in a row.

"It's very special because we lost in the FA Cup so it is something good for us to get confidence and keep playing like we have done the past few months.

"We have done so, so good and we have to keep this rhythm this way to win more titles."

Laporte's moment to savour came against an opponent who he has often struggled to find his best form against.

A pair of mistakes leading to Son Heung-min strikes led to City going out of the 2018-19 Champions League on away goals, while a shaky display at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium earlier this term preceded John Stones replacing him as Guardiola's first-choice partner for Ruben Dias.

The trend threatened to continue when Laporte was booked for a cynical first-half foul on Lucas Moura, having been incredibly fortunate to escape punishment for an earlier challenge on the same player.

"It's hard. I was thinking a lot about that. We know that a little mistake can cost you a lot," Laporte said.

"I've been careful in the second half and tried not to commit fouls."

Laporte was not penalised for another foul after the Lucas booking and made no tackles or interceptions during the game – statistics that speak of both City's dominance and his necessarily more reserved approach in the second half.

Long-serving City midfielder Fernandinho claimed a sixth winners' medal in the EFL Cup, having also won two under Manuel Pellegrini.

It was the first time the veteran Brazilian lifted the trophy as captain, however, and it was unquestionably a proud moment.

"My first time lifting a trophy at City as captain is an amazing sensation," he told Sky Sports.

"I think we deserved to win that game because we went from the first minute trying to score goals and created chances.

"At the end the game has been decided by a set piece.

"I am happy for myself, my team-mates, the staff, all the group. We have to enjoy this."

Fernandinho added: "I'm really proud. To win six trophies in this competition is an amazing feeling. I'm grateful for this club and the fans – I was so happy to see them back in the stadium. Congratulations to everyone."

Riyad Mahrez admitted he was "scared" Manchester City would be hit by a Tottenham sucker-punch before Aymeric Laporte's header secured EFL Cup final glory at Wembley.

A dynamic City performance lacked just one thing as the trophy match entered its last 10 minutes: a goal.

Then Laporte leapt to head Kevin De Bruyne's free-kick past the busy Hugo Lloris and all was well in City's world, a fourth successive EFL Cup triumph and the first part of a possible treble secured.

City had 21 goal attempts to earn a 1-0 win while Tottenham had only two, both from outside the penalty area. The return of Harry Kane meant Spurs could cling to the presence of their talisman, but they could not provide him with service in the penalty area.

With 62.2 per cent of possession, it felt inevitable City's pressure would pay off, and eventually that proved to be the case.

Mahrez told Sky Sports: "It was a tough game. We knew it was going to be tough. We stayed focused, we kept dominating, we kept passing the ball and then we scored and I think we deserved to win."

The prospect of Tottenham making City pay for their wasted chances was in the back of the mind though, as Mahrez admitted.

"Obviously you're always scared because it's a good team, but we were very confident again," he said. "It's a very good win. We get the trophy again and we're very happy.

"Just like the manager said, we focus on every competition we play. It was the final and in a final you have to win, whether you play good or not. I think we played good and we won."

City are now level with Liverpool as the most successful team in this competition's history, with eight triumphs.

They look bankers for the Premier League title and have the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain coming up on Wednesday. That is the title City want most of all.

Mahrez said having supporters at Wembley made a "massive difference" to Sunday's occasion. Only 8,000 were allowed into the stadium that can seat 90,000, as English football begins its slow crawl back to normality, with the COVID-19 pandemic having led to empty stands.

"It was so good to have the fans back," Mahrez said. "The atmosphere, even with 8,000, was amazing and we're looking forward to having more fans there."

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