Yaya Touré, David Silva named to Manchester City’s Champions Cup squad

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Thanks to their country’s World Cup success, Argentines Sergio Agüero, Martín Demichelies and Pablo Zabaleta are not in the Manchester City team that will tour the United States starting next week. Nor are Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany, or Bacary Sagna, whose countries also made the knockout stage at Brazil 2014.

It’s a testament to City that, despite those prominent absences, the Premier League champions will still bring a star-studded squad to the United States. Yaya Touré, the league’s best midfielder, is in the squad, as are David Silva, Edin Dzeko, and Joe Hart. Summer signing Fernando will join Samir Nasri, James Milner and Jesus Navas in the midfield, Gael Clichy and Aleksandr Kolarov will be options in defense, while Willy Caballero, expected to challenge Hart of the starting goalkeeper’s job, makes his first tour with the club.

In all, 27 players will be with the team when it kicks off Champions Cup competition against AC Milan in Pittsburgh on July 27. From there, the Citizens will go to Yankee Stadium to face Liverpool before concluding the competition’s group phase in Minneapolis against Olympiacos.

Manchester City returns to England for Aug. 10’s Community Shield against Arsenal. The team opens its title defense at Newcastle United on the 17th.

Here’s the full squad:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (England), Willy Caballero, Richard Wright, Ian Lawlor

Defenders: Micah Richards, Matthias Bossaerts, Jason Denayer, Karim Rekik, Matija Nastasic, Dedryck Boyata, Gael Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov

Midfielders: Fernando, Samir Nasri, Scott Sinclair, Javi Garcia, Emyr Huws, Jack Rodwell, Bruno Zuculini, James Milner (England), David Silva (Spain), Jesus Navas, Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)

Forwards: Alvaro Negredo, John Guidetti, Kelechi Ihenacho, Stevan Jovetic, Edin Dzeko (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.