Manchester City’s youth squad did the first-half job, which meant the heavy artillery coming off the bench was that much scarier. Man City came from behind to lead at halftime, and Raheem Sterling scored twice in the second half and the defending Premier League champions were no match for West Ham in a 4-1 victory in the semifinals of the Premier League Asia Trophy in Nanjing.
West Ham took the lead 25 minutes in through Noble who delivered from the penalty spot, but not without help from Felipe who was the star of the first half for the Hammers and won the penalty after sending Manchester City defender Angelino to the ground.
The lead didn’t last long as David Silva leveled things up in the 33rd minute, a wonderful start to his final season at Manchester City. He received a fabulous delivery from 18-year-old Spanish youth international Adrian Bernabe who rifled one to the far post where Silva was waiting, and the 33-year-old chested it down before unpacking a low finish from a tight angle.
City would go in front three minutes later as 20-year-old Man City youth product Lukas Nmecha won a soft penalty on a foul by Ogbonna, and the youngster took it himself and buried the spot-kick for the lead.
Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane all came on at halftime for the defending Premier League champions, while West Ham brought on the likes of Robert Snodgrass, Javier Hernandez, and Andriy Yarmolenko.
The changes for Manchester City overwhelmed West Ham, with Sane picking up a loose ball near the halfway line and feeding a beautiful pass through the back line to Sterling clean on goal who put City 3-1 up on the hour mark. That saw John Stones, Kyle Walker, Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko all come in off the bench for Pep Guardiola and into the fray.
The big three did it again in the 72nd minute as de Bruyne picked Carlos Sanchez’s pocket in the attacking third and fed Sane on the left. He sent it back to de Bruyne who layed it off for Sterling’s second goal of the match.
In squad notes, a pair of England youth internationals went the distance for Man City as Ian Poveda-Ocampo and Taylor Harwood-Bellis were the only two to complete the full 90 minutes. Notable for West Ham, Winston Reid came off the bench for the final 19 minutes, his first game action in over 16 months.
Rodri has signed a five-year contract and is the long-term replacement for City’s midfield lynchpin Fernandinho. The former Villarreal star is seen as one of the top holding midfielders in the world, with his exceptional passing, interceptions and tackling ability key to his game.
Speaking about his arrival at City, Rodri is looking forward to working with Pep Guardiola as they go for a PL three-peat.
“What City have achieved in the last two years has been amazing and I’m looking forward to being part of such a talented squad,” Rodri said. “It’s not just the titles they have won, but the way they have managed it, playing attacking football at all times. I can’t wait to start working with Pep Guardiola and my new team-mates and hopefully we can achieve great things together. It’s a style that excites me, as do the Club’s ambitions.”
Rodri only joined Atletico from Villarreal last summer for $25 million, so the La Liga side have done pretty well out of this deal.
City have gone about their business very quietly this summer, and this was a key area they needed to address.
When Fernandinho was out injured last season they badly missed his presence in midfield as the likes of Fabian Delph, Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva struggled to hold down the defensive midfield role.
Rodri’s passing ability is undoubted and the lanky midfielder is very much the heir apparent to Sergio Busquets as the best defensive midfielder around.
With City signing former left back Angelino after his impressive season at PSV Eindhoven, they have already addressed their top two needs in the transfer market. Right back Joao Cancelo could also join from Juventus, as City’s attacking depth is clear for all to see, although Sergio Aguero can’t go on forever and another option up top aside from Gabriel Jesus may be handy.
50/90 – Rodri was one of just three players from Europe's top five leagues in 2018-19 to make at least 50 successful tackles while completing over 90 percent of their passes, alongside Marcelo Brozović and Thiago Alcântara. Foundation. pic.twitter.com/Zjyh7ZCF9O
If Guardiola’s side can add another center back this summer then they should be pretty much set for the new season as they aim to go one better than winning three trophies and complete the quadruple they wanted to badly last season.
Rodri will be a key piece in Guardiola’s jigsaw for many years to come.
A source close to the situation told Pro Soccer Talk that if a move were to be completed that “Man City would prefer if the player moves in July” in order to “accommodate the club’s busy fixture list once 2018 hits.”
The three-time World Cup attendee would not require a Designated Player roster spot, according to a source, which has peaked NYCFC’s interest in the player.
Toure is under contract with the Cityzens until the end of June 2018, and by moving then it would allow NYCFC to acquire the Ivorian international on a free transfer.
Man City has already reached the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League, which will compound the club’s schedule in January and beyond as Pep Guardiola‘s side gears up for the second half of the PL season and other domestic competitions.
Toure will turn 35 in May, and has previously spent time with top sides across Europe, including Barcelona and Monaco prior to joining Man City.
NYCFC and Man City have worked together in the past as part of their CFG ties, with the latter loaning youth players to the MLS side during its inaugural season in 2015. Man City academy talents Angelino and Shay Facey each spent the entire 2015 campaign in the Bronx before returning to England at the season’s conclusion.
Additionally, NYCFC players have had the opportunity to train in Manchester during the offseason and manager Patrick Vieira has close ties with the Cityzens finishing his playing career with the English side and coaching the club’s Elite Development Squad (U-21 PL side).