With Manchester City on the cusp of winning the Premier League title in the fastest-ever time in English top-flight history (a win against Manchester United on Saturday seals the deal) it’s worth contemplating just how good this masterpiece built by Pep Guardiola is.
Is this current City better than his best team at Barcelona?
First up, let’s define his best team at Barca. We have plenty of epic teams to choose from but the double winning team of 2010/11 is widely regarded as the best team he coached, and perhaps the greatest team in soccer history, as they were only denied the treble by an extra time goal in the Spanish cup final by Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid.
Barca lost five of their 60 games in all competitions that season. Scored 147 goals and conceded just 36. This season City are on track to break Premier League records for goals, points and wins.
We’re talking a young Lionel Messi up top with David Villa. Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Xavi in their prime in midfield. Dani Alves, Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique as solid as a rock in defense.
This was a Barca team at the height of Tiki-Taka as their players not only dominated the club scene but also the international stage with three-straight major titles in the 2008 and 2012 European championships and then the 2010 World Cup for good measure. Therefore, it is tough to compare any team of any generation to the greatness of the team Guardiola was able to create in his third season at Barca.
That 2010/11 season Pep’s boys lost just one of their 13 games in the Champions League en route to absolutely smashing Manchester United 3-1 in the final at Wembley Stadium as Sir Alex Ferguson looked on in wonderment.
“They do mesmerize you with the way they pass it,” Ferguson said . “I expected us to do better, particularly after half-time, but it wasn’t to be. Great teams do go in cycles and they’re at the peak of the cycle they’re in at the moment. They’re the best in Europe, no question about that. In my time as a manager, I would say they’re the best team we’ve faced. Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It’s not easy when you’ve been well beaten like that to think another way.
“No one has given us a hiding like that. It’s a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football. But how long it lasts … whether they can replace that team at some point … they certainly have the right philosophy, but it’s always difficult to find players like Xavi [Hernandez], [Andres] Iniesta and [Lionel] Messi all the time. But they’re enjoying the moment that they have just now. We never controlled Lionel Messi, but many people have had to say that over the years.”
Now, Man City do not have Lionel Messi.
In Guardiola’s own words Messi is a “one-off” and the best player he will ever see. Messi scored 53 goals in all competitions that season, with Pedro scoring 22 and Villa scoring 23. It was both an attacking powerhouse and a steady defensive unit. The balance was near perfect and orchestrated by Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta in midfield.
Yet the Messi factor aside, there was also a similarity to this City side as Guardiola ousted plenty of big names who were getting on. Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Yaya Toure and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were all at least 27 years old and many had questioned Guardiola for getting rid of them. The same can be said for the way he has handled Toure, Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Kolarov since he arrived at City but there’s a clear plan and ideology that he prefers younger players who are quicker and more flexible in terms of formations.
Last season it looked like his methods may not have been possible in England but after just over 18 months in charge he is proving he can emulate what he created at Barcelona, and to a lesser extent at Bayern.
This City side may not emulate Pep’s Barca teams in terms of their league and European Cup double due to their 3-0 deficit from the first leg of their UCL quarterfinal at Liverpool, but there are a lot of similarities.
David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho are in the exact same mold as Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. The former two are perhaps having the greatest seasons of their careers, reinvented as a deeper central midfield duo who have the freedom to attack the space which opens up between center backs and full backs when Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling drag defenders out wide.
Up top, Sergio Aguero isn’t scoring at the same rate his close friend Messi did in 2010/11 but he is still a monster, when fit, and has adapted to Pep’s methods. The entire back line has too and you could argue that Ederson is an upgrade in goal over Victor Valdes while Vincent Kompany would have surely got into that epic Barca side at his peak.
At full back is where both of these teams stand out. Dani Alves and Kyle Walker. Eric Abidal and Benjamin Mendy. The latter has been out for most of this season with a serious knee injury but if he had been fit, he would’ve added even greater balance to this City side. The ability of Walker, and back then Alves, to slot inside and almost act as an inside center back or holding midfielder who could spring attacks and create overloads is eerily similar.
It’s harsh to say this City side is a cheap imitation of his team at Barcelona. It’s accurate to say they are from the same blueprint as the greatest team the world has ever seen. When you have spent over $400 million, it’s easy to understand why Pep has built a machine at Man City but as we saw last season, he needed to clear out veterans who didn’t fit into his plans and invest in young, quick, flexible players who did.
City could perhaps emulate Barcelona in years to come, or even this season if they turn their UCL second leg against Liverpool around, but there’s no doubt that this team is up there with his greatest Barca side.
That Barca team was better and their greatness has so far stood the test of time. This City side may only be truly appreciated in years to come too but right now it feels like they’re at the levels of the 2008/09 Barca side (Pep’s first, which won the treble) but not far off the 2010/11 side who will always be the benchmark.
Our third player Power Rankings of the 2020-21 season have arrived, as all 20 teams have played and we are coming off yet another high-scoring matchweek in Premier League history with 36 goals scored across the 10 games.
Simply put: once again it was incredibly tough to put 20 players in this list based on the crazy results across the Premier League.
Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t going to be in this list!
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the player Power Rankings.
1. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Even
2. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – New entry
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – New entry
4. James Rodriguez (Everton) – Down 2
5. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – New entry
6. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – New entry
7. Allan (Everton) – New entry
8. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – Down 4
9. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – Up 6
10. Fabinho (Liverpool) – Down 4
11. Tariq Lamptey (Brighton) – Down 4
12. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Up 1
13. Patrick Bamford (Leeds) – Up 3
14. Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) – New entry
15. Timothy Castagne (Leicester) – Up 2
16. Jack Harrison (Leeds) – New entry
17. Danny Ings (Southampton) – New entry
18. Jarrod Bowen (West Ham) – New entry
19. Andy Robertson (Liverpool) – Even
20. Illan Meslier (Leeds) – New entry
Barkley, 26, was likely to be a bit-part player for Chelsea this season as the England international has seen Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz arrive this summer and the likes of Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic are ahead of him in the pecking order of attacking midfielders at Stamford Bridge.
Villa moved quickly to get this season-long loan deal done and it significantly strengthens their creativity and takes some of the burden off Jack Grealish’s shoulders.
“Capturing a player of Ross’s quality is a real coup for our club and I am certain he will thrive here and improve our team,” Villa boss Dean Smith said about Ross Barkley to Aston Villa.
"It looks like it's going to be an exciting season." 👌
Barkley will add an extra dimension to this Villa side as Conor Hourihane, John McGinn and Grealish are tasked with being the more attack-minded midfielders ahead of Douglas Luiz.
With Ollie Watkins showing plenty of promise in attack, plus Mohamed Trezeguet a solid contributor out wide, it will be intriguing to see where Barkley slots in. In theory, Grealish and Trezeguet will be on the wings with Watkins up top, then Barkley, McGinn and Luiz in central midfield would be very well-balanced.
With two wins from two to start the season, plus some very good buys in the transfer window with Matty Cash solid at right back, Emiliano Martinez an upgrade in goal and now Barkley a huge addition on loan, Villa should be a safe bet to kick on and push for a top 10 finish this season.
After surviving relegation on the final day of the 2019-20 season, Villa were much improved defensively during ‘Project Restart’ and that gives them a solid base to build from. They need more goals, though, and Barkley is capable of being a creator and played pretty well for Chelsea at times last season.
Add Grealish signing a new long-term contract into all of this and positive vibes are plentiful at Villa right now.
The Premier League transfers window runs from July 27 to Oct. 5 in the summer, as the shortened offseason means there’s a flurry of action already happening and most clubs will want their squads sorted before the 2020-21 season kicks off on Sept. 12.
Given the fact that clubs have less than 40 days before the new season starts, you’d think that chairman, sporting directors and managers would all be pretty busy right now as they try and get their business done early. But we all know that when it comes to Premier League transfers, clubs can’t stay away from a deadline day.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic amid huge financial implications, huge sums of money are still being talked about when it comes to potential transfers.
Below are the lists of Premier League transfers for each club, as we will update this page as and when deals happen from now until Oct. 5 when the summer window shuts.
Premier League transfers – Summer window 2020
Gabriel Magalhaes (Lille) More info
Pablo Mari (Flamengo)
Cedric Soares (Southampton)
George Lewis (Larvik)
Willian (Chelsea, Free) More info
Tim Akinola (Huddersfield) Free
Salah-Eddine (Feyenoord) Free
Jonathan Dinzeyi (Tottenham) Free
Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid) Loan
Alex Runarsson (Dijon)
Tobi Omole (Released)
Matthew Dennis (Released)
Zech Medley (Gillingham) Loan
Zak Swanson (MVV Maastricht) Loan
Dinos Mavropanos (Stuttgart) Loan
Trae Coyle (Gillingham) Loan
Matt Smith (Swindon Town) Loan
Jordi Osei-Tutu (Cardiff City) Loan
Sam Greenwood (Leeds)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Roma) Ben Sheaf (Coventry) Loan TyreeceJohn-Jules (Doncaster Rovers) Loan Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
Mark McGuinness (Ipswich) Loan
Matty Cash (Nottingham Forest) More info
Ollie Watkins (Brentford) Emiliano Martinez (Arsenal)
Bertrand Traore (Lyon)
Ross Barkley (Chelsea) Loan
Ross McCormack (Released)
Callum O’Hare (Released)
Jack Birch (Released)
Anton Hooper (Released)
Colin Odutayo (Released)
Dimitri Sea (Released)
Jamie Searle (Released)
Matija Sarkic (Wolves) Free
James Chester (Stoke) Free
Indiana Vassilev (Burton) Loan
Mbwana Samatta (Fenerbahce)
Brighton and Hove Albion
Jensen Weir (Wigan)
Adam Lallana (Liverpool) Free More info
Joel Veltman (Ajax)
Lars Dendoncker (Club Brugge)
Jan Paul van Hecke (NAC Breda)
Ulrick Eneme Ella (Amiens)
Leon Balogun (Wigan) Loan
Archie Davies (Released)
Lewis Freestone (Released)
George Cox (Fortuna Sittard)
Anthony Knockaert (Fulham)
Beram Kayal (Released)
Percy Tau (Anderlecht) Loan
Jan Mlakar (Maribor) Loan
Warren O’Hora (MK Dons) Loan
Taylor Richards (Doncaster) Loan
Martin Montoya (Real Betis)
Matt Clarke (Derby) Loan
Ryan Longman (AFC Wimbledon) Loan Leo Ostigard (Coventry) Loan Aaron Mooy (Shanghai SIPG) Undisclosed
Glenn Murray (Watford) Loan
Shane Duffy (Celtic) Loan
David Button (West Brom)
Jan Paul van Hecke (Heerenveen) Loan
Dale Stephens (Burnley)
Will Norris (Wolves) Marc Richter (Augsburg) Will Rickard (Free) Marcel Elva-Fountaine (Reading) Connor Barrett (Leicester)
Ismaila Diallo (Arsenal)
Dale Stephens (Brighton)
Joe Hart (Tottenham) Free
Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle) Free
Adam Legzdins (Released)
Aaron Lennon (Released)
Oliver Younger (Released)
Scott Wilson (Released)
Joel Senior (Released)
Ryan Cooney (Morecambe) Loan
Adam Phillips (Morecambe) Loan Jordan Cropper (Chesterfield) Loan
Ben Gibson (Norwich City) Loan
Aiden O’Neill (Melbourne City)
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) More info
Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) More info
Ben Chilwell (Leicester) More info
Malang Sarr (Nice) Free
Thiago Silva (PSG) Free
Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Edouard Mendy (Rennes)
Josh Grant (Released)
Marcel Lavinier (Released)
Richard Nartey (Released)
Willian (Arsenal) Free
Pedro (Roma) Free
Danilo Pantic (Cukaricki) Loan
Jacob Maddox (Vitoria SC)
Jamie Cumming (Stevenage) Loan
Trevoh Chalobah (Lorient) Loan
Armando Broja (Vitesse Arnhem) Loan
Tariq Uwakwe (Accrington Stanley) Loan
Ethan Ampadu (Sheff Utd) Loan
Kenedy (Granada) Loan
Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace) Loan
Conor Gallagher (West Brom) Loan Lewis Baker (Trabzonspor) Loan
Davide Zappacosta (Genoa) Loan
Luke McCormick (Bristol Rovers) Loan Ross Barkley (Aston Villa) Loan
Nathan Ferguson (West Brom) Free
Jake Giddings (Free)
Eberechi Eze (QPR)
Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) Loan
Kian Flanagan (Released)
Dion-Curtis Henry (Released)
Daniel Tupper (Released)
Alexander Sorloth (RB Leipzig)
Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) More info
Niels Nkounkou (Marseille) Free
James Rodriguez (Real Madrid) More info
Morgan Feeney (Released)
Alexander Denny (Released)
Matthew Foulds (Released)
Luke Garbutt (Released)
Oumar Niasse (Released)
Morgan Schneiderlin (Nice)
Leighton Baines (Retired)
Maarten Stekelenburg (Released)
Nathangelo Markelo (FC Twente) Loan
Kieran Dowell (Norwich City)
Manasse Mampala (Released)
Korede Adedoyin (Released)
Cuco Martina (Released)
Lewis Gibson (Reading) Loan
Dennis Adeniran (Wycombe Wanderers) Loan
Antonee Robinson (Wigan) More info
Mario Lemina (Southampton) Loan
Harrison Reed (Southampton)
Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain) Loan
Kenny Tete (Lyon)
Ola Aina (Torino) Loan
Ademola Lookman (RB Leipzig) Loan
Cody Drameh (Leeds)
Marlon Fossey (Shrewsbury Town) Loan
Jordan Archer (Released)
Zico Asare (Released)
Tristan Cover (Released)
Magnus Norman (Released)
Nicolas Santos Clase (Released)
Toni Stahl (Released)
Cameron Thompson (Released)
Ben Tricker (Released)
Luca de la Torre (Released)
Matt O’Riley (Released) Alfie Mawson (Bristol City) Loan
Steven Sessegnon (Bristol City) Loan Marcus Bettinelli (Middlesbrough) Loan
Jerome Opoku (Plymouth Argyle) Loan
Helder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Illan Meslier (Lorient)
Jack Harrison (Man City) Loan Joe Gelhardt (Wigan)
Cody Drameh (Fulham)
Sam Greenwood (Arsenal) Rodrigo Moreno Machado (Valencia)
Robin Koch (Freiburg)
Crysencio Summerville (Feyenoord)
Diego Llorente (Real Sociedad)
Ryan Edmondson (Aberdeen) Loan
Kun Temenuzhkov (Real Union) Loan
Jordan Stevens (Swindon) Loan
Alfie McCalmont (Oldham) Loan Bryce Hosannah (Bradford) Loan
Timothy Castagne (Atalanta)
Cengiz Under (Roma) Loan
Calvin Bassey (Rangers)
Viktor Johansson (Released)
Ryan Loft (Released)
Connor Tee (Released)
Daniel Iversen (OH Leuven) Loan Bartosz Kapustka (Legia Warsaw)
Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)
George Hirst (Rotherham) Loan
Fousseni Diabate (Trabzonspor)
Darnell Johnson (Wigan) Loan
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Released)
Dion McGee (Released)
Angel Gomes (Released)
Ethan Hamilton (Released)
Michael O’Hara (Released)
Largie Ramazani (Released)
George Tanner (Released)
Alexis Sanchez (Inter Milan) More info
Tahith Chong (Werder Bremen) Loan
Aliou Traore (Stade Malherbe Caen) Loan
Joel Pereira (Huddersfield) Loan
James Garner (Watford) Loan
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) Free More info
Mark Gillespie (Motherwell) Free
Niall Brookwell (Liverpool) Free
Jeff Hendrick (Burnley) Free More info
Jamal Lewis (Norwich City)
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) More info
Luke Charman (Released)
Jack Colback (Released)
Robert Elliott (Released)
Liam Gibson (Released)
Nathan Harker (Released)
Victor Fernandez (Viitorul Constanta) Free
Jake Turner (Morecambe) Loan
Tom Allan (Accrington Stanley) Loan
Freddie Woodman (Swansea) Loan
Kell Watts (Plymouth) Loan
Florian Lejeune (Deportivo Alaves) Loan Yoshinori Muto (Eibar) Loan
Wes Foderingham (Rangers) Free
Aaron Ramsdale (AFC Bournemouth)
Jayden Bogle (Derby County)
Max Lowe (Derby County) Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea) Loan Ismaila Coulibaly (Sarpsborg 08)
Oliver Burke (West Brom
Mark Duffy (Released)
Keenan Ferguson (Released)
Oliver Greaves (Released)
Jake Eastwood (Kilmarnock) Loan
Tyler Smith (Swindon Town) Loan
Luke Freeman (Nottingham Forest) Loan
Rhys Norrington-Davies (Luton Town) Loan
Sam Graham (Notts County) Loan Ismaila Coulibaly (K Beerschot VA)
Callum Robinson (West Brom)
Regan Slater (Hull) Loan
Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham)
Mohammed Salisu (Real Valladolid)
Alexander Cull (Released)
Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) Loan
Maya Yoshida (Released)
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham)
Cedric Soares (Arsenal)
Mario Lemina (Fulham) Loan Harrison Reed (Fulham)
Alfie Jones (Hull)
Jack Bycroft (Weymouth) Loan
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton)
Joe Hart (Burnley) Free
Matt Doherty (Wolves)
Sergio Reguilon (Real Madrid)
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) Loan, More info
Jan Vertonghen (Released)
Michel Vorm (Released)
Tariq Hinds (Released)
Rayan Clarke (Released)
Jonathan Dinzeyi (Released)
Phoenix Patterson (Released)
Maxwell Statham (Released)
Maximus Tainio (Released)
Troy Parrott (Millwall) Loan
TJ Eyoma (Lincoln City) Loan
Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton)
Armando Shashoua (Atletico Baleares)
Luke Amos (QPR) Oliver Skipp (Norwich) Loan
Jack Roles (Burton) Loan Shilow Tracey (Shrewsbury Town) Loan
West Bromwich Albion
Matheus Pereira (Sporting Lisbon)
Cedric Kipre (Wigan)
Grady Diangana (West Ham)
David Button (Brighton)
Callum Robinson (Sheff Utd)
Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit Saint Petersburg) Conor Gallagher (Chelsea) Loan
Filip Krovinovic (Benfica) Loan
Chris Brunt (Released)
Finn Azaz (Cheltenham Town) Loan
Josh Griffiths (Cheltenham Town) Loan Jonathan Leko (Birmingham City)
Oliver Burke (Sheff Utd)
Nick Clayton-Phillips (Solihull Moors) Loan Rayhaan Tulloch (Doncaster Rovers) Loan
West Ham United
Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague)
Ossama Ashley (AFC Wimbledon)
Sead Haksabanovic (IFK Norrkoping)
Carlos Sanchez (Released)
Pablo Zabaleta (Released)
Roberto (Real Valladolid) Undisclosed
Dan Kemp (Blackpool) Loan
Grady Diangana (West Brom)
Matija Sarkic (Aston Villa) Free
Fabio Silva (Porto) Fernando Marcal (Lyon)
Vitinha (Porto) Loan Ki-Jana Hoever (Liverpool)
Nelson Semedo (Barcelona) More info
Jordan Graham (Released)
Connor Johnson (Released)
Callum Thompson (Released)
Helder Costa (Leeds)
Tsun Dai (Shenzhen)
Ryan Giles (Coventry) Loan
Elliot Watt (Bradford)
Will Norris (Burnley)
Morgan Gibbs-White (Swansea) Loan Matt Doherty (Tottenham)
Matija Sarkic (Shrewsbury Town) Loan
Benny Ashley-Seal (Northampton)
Terry Taylor (Grimsby) Loan Connor Ronan (Grasshopper Club Zurich) Loan
Renat Dadashov (Grasshopper Club Zurich) Loan
Dan Csoka (AFC Wimbledon)
Diogo Jota (Liverpool)
Leo Bonatini (Grasshopper Club Zurich) Loan
Let’s focus on the Manchester clubs scrambling to do business in the final days of the summer transfer window.
Ousmane Dembele to Manchester United to happen?
This could actually happen!? Ousmane Dembele to Manchester United has been reported so many times in recent years but it seems like this time it has legs.
Multiple reports (including this one from Sky Sports) state that Manchester United want to sign Dembele, 23, on loan and are in talks with Barcelona. It doesn’t appear that Dembele is in the plans of new Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman who simply said that his future depends on the club and the player but he’s happy to have him for now.
Dembele’s talent is undoubted and initially he slotted in really well at Barcelona when he arrived from Dortmund in 2017. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly wants to add a new winger and Dembele, if fit, would be a big upgrade on the likes of Daniel James, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.
If they can arrange a loan deal for Dembele, then they can revisit the Sancho deal in the upcoming windows and that would be a pretty good solution for everyone concerned. Barcelona are also looking to free up some space on their wage bill so if they can move on Dembele they can bring in Memphis Depay. Done deal?
A new left back? David Alaba to Manchester City, Nicolas Tagliafico…
The Daily Mail believe that Manchester City are ‘desperate’ to add a new left back in the final days of the window.
Per the report, David Alaba to Manchester City could happen as the versatile Austrian defender has yet to sign a new contract at Bayern Munich and is out of contract next summer. Man City are also said to be interested in Nicolas Tagliafico, 28, from Ajax after Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have all passed on the Argentine defender.
Alaba, 28, played for Pep Guardiola at Bayern and it is believed there is interest from both parties about a move. With David Silva, Claudio Bravo, Leroy Sane and Nicolas Otamendi moved on, City have added Nathan Ake and now Ruben Dias to strengthen their central defensive areas (plus young winger Ferran Torres) but left back is a problem.
Benjamin Mendy has never really settled while Oleksandr Zinchenko is reportedly up for sale as Man City try and sign a new left back. Watch this space, as Man City need to strengthen at the back if they’re going to challenge for trophies.