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Guardiola eyes bigger prizes after League Cup win

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Guardiola eyes bigger prizes after League Cup win

LONDON (Reuters)-Even as his Manchester City players celebrated on the Wembley pitch after winning Sunday’s League Cup final, manager Pep Guardiola was already setting his sights on bigger prizes.

City’s 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur — a scoreline that did not do justice to their dominance — sealed a record-equalling fourth successive League Cup trophy.

It was also the first part of what could be a treble this season. Manchester’s United’s failure to beat Leeds United on Sunday means City could seal a third Premier League title in four seasons as early as next weekend.

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Before that City take on Paris St Germain in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal.

So while Guardiola was clearly delighted with Sunday’s win — making him the first manager to win the League Cup in four successive seasons — the Spaniard knows that is only an hors d’oeuvre to the season’s main menu.

“Now we rest and prepare for the (Champions League semifinal) first leg against Paris Saint-Germain, then after that, we are two games away from trying to win the most important title of the season,” Guardiola said.

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“The Premier League is the nicest one, the one where I am most proud when we are able to do it.

“We are 10 points clear, we need two victories, and in between the games in this crazy schedule we are going to try to win the next one against Crystal Palace.”

Barring an unprecedented collapse, City will be crowned Premier League champions, but the Champions League is in the balance. It has proved a tricky challenge for Guardiola since arriving at City with a mission to make the club the kings of Europe, so much so that the clash with PSG is his first semifinal since taking over at the Etihad.

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Therefore it was a slight surprise to see so many of his key men, including Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden, being risked against a sub-standard Tottenham side.

“”We cannot deny one eye is always on the Champions League,” he said. “(But) I have to be honest with myself and I thought they were ready to play in this selection.

“We arrive in these last stages, as we did this season and in previous seasons, because we take every game seriously. If not it is impossible to win four Carabao Cups in a row.”

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Sunday marked Guardiola’s 30th piece of silverware as a manager since taking over at Barcelona in 2008.

He was modest about that haul though.

“It was good in big clubs, Barca, Bayern, here. That’s why it’s easy to do it,” Guardiola said.

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Rangers

Rangers fear major exit for ‘key’ player wanted by clubs abroad

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Rangers fear major exit for 'key' player wanted by clubs abroad
Image Credit: Getty Images

Scott Arfield has been a vital part of the Rangers team since joining in 2018, and his current form, especially after van Bronckhorst took charge, is nothing short of exemplary.

The 33-year old Scottish-Canadian’s display is on a high now, and he recently helped his side’s win against Livingston with his “unbelievable” (according to Richard Foster) 75th minute goal.

He is a must-keep, but according to transfermarkt, the reigning Scottish champions risk losing him and other senior team members, including Steven Davis and Allan McGregor, in the summer following contract expiry.

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The Mirror’s print edition reported that the Gers fear letting their No. 37 go in exchange for nothing, given that USA clubs have their sights set on the midfielder, and his contract is only months away from expiry.

Money included or not, Scott’s departure could be a big blow come next season since he now practically determines Rangers’ performance (the one time he didn’t play after Gerrard’s exit is the only time Rangers dropped points.)

Hopefully, Rangers will consider holding talks to fight for the former Huddersfield Town’s contract extension, and he (Scott) is willing to stay in Scotland and at Ibrox, otherwise the double loss in terms of money and talent could hugely affect the Gers next season.

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Liverpool FC

Liverpool win race for £50m Porto star

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Liverpool win race for £50m Porto star
Image Credit: Getty Images

Liverpool are preparing a late £45 million bid for Porto striker Luis Diaz, who is also being pursued by Tottenham.

The Colombian winger was Jurgen Klopp’s first option for the summer transfer window, but due to Spurs’ significant interest, Liverpool have hastened their preparations.

Liverpool is thought to be proposing an initial £37 million, plus bonuses, which will only be activated if Diaz is a major success at Anfield.

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Tottenham has been in discussions with Porto over Diaz, reportedly willing to spend up to £46 million for the player.

Spurs are reportedly willing to pay £37.6 million upfront for Diaz, with an extra £8.4 million in performance-related add-ons, according to reports in Portugal.

Spurs have already appeared to miss out on Wolves attacker Adama Traore, who appears poised to return to Barca on loan, and missing out on Luiz would be another major blow this month.

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It is unclear whether Diaz will move to Anfield this month or wait till the end of the season. In 18 outings for his current club this season, he has managed to score 14 goals.

Sky Sports reporter Vinny O’Connor:

“Obviously, it’s far from done and could easily come to nothing.

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“However, Liverpool view this as an excellent deal if it gets completed – very much close to a Diogo Jota-type fee. Also, it is far better value than the original €60m asking price.

“Diaz was Jurgen Klopp’s first choice for the summer, but they have brought those plans forward because it was clear if Liverpool didn’t act this window, the player would move on.

“This isn’t done and could yet collapse – the player is in Argentina with his national team, so it will be far from straightforward to complete the deal.

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“However, if it does get done, it’s a big coup for Julian Ward, who is to succeed sporting director Michael Edwards in the summer. It was a deal in which Ward lead for the first time, but it is fair to say he’s been supported strongly by Edwards who put together the strategy to secure the player this month.”

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Everton

Two Everton midfielders out for minimum of four weeks

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After suffering injuries in the last week, Everton midfielders Abdoulaye Doucoure and Fabian Delph will both be out for at least four weeks.

The injury to Doucoure occurred in the second half of Everton’s 1-0 loss to Aston Villa on Saturday, while the injury to Delph occurred in training.

Duncan Ferguson, the interim manager, suddenly has a scarcity of fit midfield players, with Tom Davies also sidelined for a prolonged period.

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Allan, Andre Gomes, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin, as well as Tyler Onyango, are available.

An Everton statement read: “Everton midfielders Abdoulaye Doucoure and Fabian Delph are expected to be out for a minimum of four weeks after sustaining injuries.

“Frenchman Doucoure was forced off in the 65th minute of Saturday’s Premier League match against Aston Villa at Goodison Park due to a groin problem.

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“Subsequent tests have revealed the 29-year-old requires a period of rehabilitation under the care of Everton’s medical staff at USM Finch Farm.

“Meanwhile, Delph sustained a thigh injury during a training session this week and is now undergoing treatment with the club’s medical team.”

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