Pep expecting Garcia to leave Man City

Pep Guardiola expects Eric Garcia to leave Manchester City and join Barcelona, saying he is “pretty sure” of the defender’s exit.

The 20-year-old centre-back – capped four times by Spain – who came through Barcelona’s academy before joining City in 2017, is in the final year of his contract at the Etihad Stadium and is entitled to speak with other clubs.

Garcia rejected a new City deal last summer and is one of Barcelona’s top three transfer targets along with Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum and Lyon’s Memphis Depay.

The Spanish side saw a bid of £15.4m (plus add-ons) rejected on Deadline Day during the last transfer window, with City wanting a fee closer to £20m.

Guardiola previously said he was unsure whether Garcia would still be a City player by the end of January, but speaking after the FA Cup win over Cheltenham – asked specifically about Barca’s interest in his player – he said: “I’m pretty sure he’s going to leave, yeah.

“If it happens in this window [or in the summer], it will depend on the clubs [Manchester City and Barcelona].”

Eric Garcia is challenged by Cheltenham's Alfie May
Garcia has featured just eight times this season in all competitions

Garcia has suffered with both injury and coronavirus this term, restricting him to just eight appearances across all competitions.

He has started just two Premier League games – the 5-2 defeat to Leicester and 1-1 draw at West Ham – while he came off the bench in the 5-0 victory over Burnley, completing the last 20 minutes.

Garcia has started two Champions League matches, the win and draw over Porto in Group C, and played the last 28 minutes of the 3-0 win against Marseille, also starting in cup wins over Bournemouth and Cheltenham.

‘Quadruple? You are so generous!’


Pep Guardiola believes his side are hitting their stride at the right time after winning their sixth Premier League game in a row

Manchester City have already reached the Carabao Cup final, where they will face Tottenham – attempting to lift the trophy for the fourth time in a row – and have now progressed to the last 16 of the FA Cup.

They will go top of the Premier League if they win their game in hand over rivals Manchester United – who are two points ahead, but have played one fixture more – meaning City could once again be in with a chance of winning an unprecedented quadruple if they can also win the Champions League, which Guardiola did twice as Barca boss.

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City became the first English men’s team in history to win a domestic treble in the 2018-19 season, winning the Premier League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup – but no team has never won those three along with a European title.

Quizzed on if he can go one better and win a quadruple at City, Pep said: “You [reporters] are so generous! The target is big Sam – West Brom [who City face on Tuesday]. That is our target.

“The other is a fairytale. It has never been accomplished. Please don’t do this kind of questions to the manager, it is unrealistic!”

Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Kevin De Bruyne has yet to sign a new Manchester City deal


Guardiola believes City’s togetherness can combat the ‘almost irreplaceable’ absence of Kevin De Bruyne, who has been ruled out by injury

The winter transfer window is open until Monday, February 1 at 11pm.

Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports‘ digital platforms, including our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.


Barca secure fifth straight win; Bayern seven clear

Substitute Riqui Puig struck at the death as Barcelona left it late to secure a fifth-successive La Liga win on the road as they were made to work hard for the points at lowly Elche.

Frenkie de Jong’s 39th-minute opener was all that separated the sides as the clock ticked down towards the final minute of the 90 at the Martinez Valero Stadium before Puig headed home the Netherlands midfielder’s cross to seal a 2-0 victory.

Elche kept themselves in it to the death thanks in large part to a string of fine saves by goalkeeper Edgar Badia, who denied substitute Trincao twice inside the final seven minutes.

Victory lifted the Catalan side above Sevilla into third place, three points adrift of arch-rivals Real Madrid in second, but still seven adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid ahead of their evening kick-off against Valencia.

The visitors started in determined fashion and defender Ronald Araujo headed over from Ousmane Dembele’s corner before the same man fed Antoine Griezmann and saw him force a 12th-minute save from Badia.

Elche responded with Raul Guti heading Johan Mojica’s delivery over from close range eight minutes later, but it was Barca who continued to press and Badia had to field Sergio Busquets’ attempt from distance 11 minutes before the break.

Frenkie de Jong celebrates with team mates
Frenkie de Jong celebrates with team-mates

The breakthrough finally arrived six minutes before half-time when defender Diego Gonzalez’s effort to prevent Martin Braithwaite’s cross reaching Griezmann only succeeded in setting up De Jong to tap home on the line.

Elche midfielder Josan called upon goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make his first save of note seconds later, but Ronald Koeman’s side went in at the break with the slightest of advantages.

Guti and Emiliano Rigoni both went close as Elche attempted to drag themselves back into the game immediately after the break with Ter Stegen needing to be at his best to prevent the latter from making the most of a defensive slip.

However, Badia had to keep out Dembele’s 56th-minute effort and was stretched further by Pedri’s deflected strike 11 minutes later with Barca looking to wrap up the points.

Trincao forced another vital stop from the ‘keeper with seven minutes remaining and then kept out his 87th-minute header to keep the home side in the hunt, but there was nothing he could do to repel fellow substitute Puig’s header at the death.

Bundesliga: Bayern seven points clear

Bayern team-mates celebrate during the win over Schalke
Bayern team-mates celebrate during the win over Schalke

Champions Bayern Munich opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the Bundesliga after dishing out a 4-0 thrashing at bottom club Schalke 04 helped by a Thomas Muller double on Sunday.

Muller scored with two headers, starting the scoring after 33 minutes and again in the 88th after league top scorer Robert Lewandowski hit his 23rd of the campaign in the 54th.

David Alaba’s long-range effort in the 90th minute capped a comfortable evening for the Bavarians.

With title rivals RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund all losing this weekend, Bayern remain firmly on course for a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title.

“I am not totally satisfied,” said Bayern coach Hansi Flick. “Yes, we scored four goals but I could see that at times we could improve our possession game.”

“We sometimes play too fast, sometimes too slow, sometimes with too much risk. There is lost possession which we can avoid.”

“But overall I am happy with the nine points this week. Today we used the assist delivered by our rivals.”

After 18 games, the Munich side have 42 points with second-placed Leipzig on 35. Leverkusen and Wolfsburg both have 32.

Serie A: Juve back on track

Juventus celebrate
Juventus celebrate during the win over Bologna

Juventus got their Serie A title defence back on track with a hard-fought 2-0 home win over Bologna on Sunday that moved Andrea Pirlo’s side into the top four.

Arthur Melo scored his first goal for the Turin club in the first half with a deflected strike and Weston McKennie headed home the second after 71 minutes.

Bologna goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski made some stunning saves to keep his side in the match and the visitors also had good chances in an entertaining encounter at the Allianz Stadium.

It was a much-needed victory for Pirlo’s side following the disappointment of their 2-0 defeat to Inter Milan last weekend as it cut the gap behind league leaders AC Milan to seven points and the champions also have a game in hand.

Juventus are fourth with 36 points from 18 games, one point behind AS Roma in third. Bologna are 13th with 20 points.


Barca edge through in Copa del Rey, Suarez pen beats Eibar

Barcelona needed extra-time to squeeze past third-tier Cornella and avoid the
possibility of becoming the second Spanish superpower to be knocked out of the Copa del Rey in successive days.

With rivals Real Madrid crashing out to lower-league opponents 24 hours earlier, Barca missed two penalties in normal time before sealing their progression into the round of 16 with a 2-0 victory.

Miralem Pjanic and Ousmane Dembele saw their spot-kicks saved, but the latter made amends with a fine strike early into the first period of extra-time, with Martin Braithwaite adding a second late on following Albert Estelles’ red card.

Athletic Bilbao were also pushed all the way by Segunda Divison B outfit Ibiza before claiming a 2-1 comeback victory.

Unai Nunez scored a stoppage-time winner, Raul Garcia having equalised after coming on at half-time. Ibiza had led through Javi Perez but were ultimately eliminated by the Supercopa winners.

In La Liga, leaders Atletico Madrid needed a late Luis Suarez penalty to win at Eibar and move seven points clear – while still boasting a game in hand on all their rivals.

Eibar goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic gave the hosts the lead with a spot-kick of his own early on, but Suarez levelled before half-time and then wrapped up a hard-fought 2-1 win as he converted from the penalty spot with one minute remaining.

Elsewhere in league action, Valencia and Osasuna took a share of the spoils following a 1-1 draw at the Mestalla.

Jonathan Calleri put the visitors ahead shortly before the break only for an Unai Garcia own goal in the 69th minute to earn a draw for Valencia.

Meanwhile in Italy, Lazio beat Parma 2-1 in the Coppa Italia round of 16 as a last-minute Simone Colombi own goal set up a quarter-final clash with Atalanta.

Valentin Mihaila thought he had taken the tie to extra-time with a late equaliser for the visitors after the hosts had taken the lead through Marco Parolo’s effort, but Colombi’s unfortunate contribution settled the tie.


Messi escapes long ban for hitting opponent

Lionel Messi has been suspended for Barcelona’s next two matches after he hit an opponent in an off-the-ball incident in the Spanish Super Cup final. 

The Barcelona forward could have been banned for up to 12 matches for swinging his arm at an Athletic Bilbao player at the end of his team’s 3-2 loss on Sunday.

However, the federation’s competition committee did not deem the incident to be severe and applied a less severe penalty against the player. Barcelona have confirmed they will appeal against the decision.

After passing the ball out to the left-wing, Messi swung his right arm at the head of Athletic forward Asier Villalibre as they ran toward the box. Villalibre immediately fell to the ground and after a video review, Messi was given his first red card in 753 appearances for Barcelona.

Referee Gil Manzano said in his match report that Messi hit his opponent with excessive force while the ball was not near him.

Messi will miss Barcelona’s match against third-division club Cornell in the Copa del Rey and against Elche in the Spanish league.


Messi sent off as Athletic beat Barca in Super Cup

Lionel Messi was sent off for the first time in his Barcelona career in the closing stages of extra-time as they lost 3-2 to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday.

Messi, who returned to the starting line-up after missing the semi-final victory over Real Sociedad through injury, was dismissed after striking Asier Villalibre in the final minute.

The Argentine had been heavily involved in a more positive way as Barca took the lead five minutes before the break.

Lionel Messi was sent off for lashing out at Asier Villalibre
Lionel Messi was sent off for lashing out at Asier Villalibre

Messi’s goalbound effort was blocked, falling to the feet of Antoine Griezmann, who netted the first of his two goals.

Bilbao’s riposte was immediate as Oscar De Marcos met Inaki Williams’ cross two minutes later to send the sides in level at half-time.

Raul Garcia had a header disallowed for offside by VAR after the restart as Bilbao enjoyed the better chances in a tense affair.

However, French forward Griezmann looked to have won it for the Catalans with a goal against the run of play 14 minutes from time, only for substitute Villalibre to volley home in the 90th minute to send the game into the extra period.

Athletic Bilbao celebrate their Super Cup victory in extra time
Athletic Bilbao celebrate their Super Cup victory in extra-time

Three minutes into the additional half-hour, Williams curled a stunning effort into the far corner from the edge of the box to win the match for Marcelino Garcia’s side.

The victory brought a third Super Cup title for the Basque side and their first silverware since they claimed the same trophy in 2015 with a 5-1 aggregate win over Barca.