Category: EPL-English Premier League

Pep Guardiola: Kevin de Bruyne needs trophies to win Ballon d’Or

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says that team playmaker Kevin de Bruyne needs to win “lots of titles, especially the Champions League” to win the Ballon d’Or.

Belgium international de Bruyne made three assists in City’s 5-1 victory over Leicester on Saturday, taking total in the league this season to 14, four more than the next best player, his club teammate Leroy Sane.

However, while Guardiola is certain that it would be difficult to find anyy other player performing as well across Europe, that de Bruyne would first have to gather more accolades to his resume before he is to win football’s top individual award — a title dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo every year since 2008.

“No doubt,” said Guardiola. “He is not (just doing it in) one game. It’s the whole season, every three days playing that way. Every three days.”

“But he knows and everyone knows, to be there you have to win titles – and titles and titles, especially one. But the way he’s played it’s difficult to find one (better) in Europe.”

When asked if the ‘one’ title he was referring to was the Champions League, Guardiola said: “Of course. You have to be there in the latter stages. Without the latter stages you will not be nominated.”

Although Bruyne has now provided 18 assists for his team-mates in all competitions this season but the Belgian insists that he is not interested in individual praise.

“I am doing what I have to do,” the 26-year-old said. “It is something you reflect on after you get something like that. I am not busy with that before.”

“I do everything to win titles with the team. What happens after is an extra. I am very pleased with the way everything is going for me. I am playing this way because the team is playing this way. It makes it easier for me, it makes it easier for them.”

“At the end, if you get an individual honour, it is beautiful.”

Claude Puel: Riyad Mahrez not available against Manchester City

Claude Puel has said Riyad Mahrez will maintain his self-imposed exile not play for Leicester at Manchester City on Saturday.

Mahrez, 26, has not trained or played since a move to the Etihad Stadium fell through on deadline day of the January transfer window.

The Algerian international, who scored 35 goals and contributed 24 assists in 127 top-flight appearances, has handed in a transfer request but the Foxes had refused to hear any interest in the player before the transfer deadline.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Puel said that he believes that Mahrez, who he describes as “magnificent” will remain unavailable.

“I think Riyad is not available for Saturday’s game. I hope Riyad can get his head right and come back with us and work hard. The best way is for him to come back and enjoy his football.”

“He is a magnificent player and he enjoys his football. He loves his team-mates, and that’s important. He loves to touch the football but he needs to come back right. I hope he can come back with a good attitude and prepared to work, but he will need time and time to be match-fit.”

“It’s important this remains inside the club and private, not in the public,” Puel added. “The most important thing for me is to keep Riyad and the club and the fans united and in a good way about this. It is important to keep a good feeling together through these difficulties.”

On the other hand, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has suggested that Manchester City would keep tabs on the forward despite Leicester having being ununderstood to have been demanding as much £95m as a bare minimum.

Prediction:

Manchester City 3 – 1 Leicester City

Antonio Conte: Chelsea manager to stay despite thrashing by Watford

Antonio Conte will not be sacked as Chelsea manager in the wake of their 4-1 thrashing defeat at the hands of Watford on Monday night.

Conte’s position was not discussed after the match, and expects to oversee the game against West Bromwich Albion next week.

The fact that Chelsea still remains in the top four of the Premier Leauge and are still in the running for both the Champions League and FA Cup were cited as reasons not to make a managerial change right now, while it was also understood that the Italian has since given his players three days off.

Conte also admitted his team had played “with fear” at Vicarage Road and rejected using injuries and fatigue as an excuse for their poor form, but conceded that an empty week is an opportunity to grant his players a rest amidst a busy schedule since the turn of the year.

With the defending champions are now fourth in the Premier League and 19 points behind leaders Manchester City, Conte said that “the club have to take another decision” if they think he is not doing a good enough job.

Still, there is support for the former Juventus coach as Blues captain Gary Cahill has voiced out his support for Conte, saying that the players needed to “look in the mirror” after the Blues’ second straight three-goal defeat.

“The manager has done an absolutely unbelievable job,” Cahill added. “This is the worst I’ve felt for quite a while. Performance-wise at Watford I didn’t recognise us or myself. It was abysmal. We just need to keep strong. I’ve been here before at this club: it’s about staying calm. But it hurts a lot when you come off after a performance like that.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea have denied reports in Spain that their director Marina Granovskaia has met the former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique about succeeding Conte and insist it remains business as usual at the club despite only two wins in 10 games since the turn of the year.