Manchester City-Wolverhampton Preview
Manchester City have moved on from the Lionel Messi transfer saga, according to Pep Guardiola, whose side kick-off their season against Wolves on Monday.
Messi asked to leave Barcelona in the wake of their 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, with City widely tipped as favourites to land the 33-year-old.
However, Messi then announced he had decided to see out the final year of his contract, albeit while accusing president Josep Maria Bartomeu of going back on his word and making the financial cost of any deal for a buying club "impossible".
Guardiola, however, is putting the story well behind him heading into 2020-21.
"I think I don't have to explain anything," he said in a news conference. "Leo explained quite well his feelings, I don't have anything to add. He's a football player for FC Barcelona, the club I love, and there is nothing more to say."
Asked whether City would be interested in signing Messi were he to become available in June, Guardiola replied: "I don't know. It's a question for Leo Messi. I cannot talk about the intentions of other people."
City will be without Sergio Aguero for their trip to Wolves, with the striker yet to resume training following meniscus surgery in June.
Wolves, meanwhile, followed up a 2-0 win over Sheffield United with a shock 2-1 defeat to Stoke City in the EFL Cup.
Diogo Jota was not included, and news emerged on Friday that Liverpool are interested in the forward.
"He was not available for selection. We have a short squad, all the options are good, but today he was not available," Nuno Espirito Santo said on Thursday. "Decisions we have to make, we have to prepare the squad, we have to know the moment of the season."
Wolves – Adama Traore
Wolves snatched a brilliant 2-0 win in their away fixture at City last season, with Traore scoring both goals. In total, the former Barca winger has netted three times in the league against City.
Manchester City – Kevin De Bruyne
While Guardiola may hand debuts to new boys Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres, there is no doubting who City's star player is. De Bruyne was magnificent last season, scoring 13 goals and accumulating 20 assists in the top flight, and is sure to be key if City are to make a winning start.
• Wolves were one of just two sides to complete a Premier League double over Manchester City last season.
• City have lost four of their last seven top-flight away games at Wolves – the Citizens could lose at Molineux in two consecutive top-flight campaigns for the first time since losing three in a row between 1970-71 and 1972-73.
• Since returning to the Premier League in August 2018, Wolves have won none of their 8pm GMT kick-offs in the top-flight while opponents Man City have won nine of their 10 kick-offs at 8pm in that time.
• After losing against Southampton in July, City have won their last five Premier League games by an aggregate score of 21-1.
• Wolves' opening day victory over Sheffield United was their 1,999th league win – they're looking to become just the fourth team to win 2,000 games in the top four tiers of English football (Man Utd 2234, Liverpool 2212, Arsenal 2117).
• Wolves are looking to start a Premier League season with two successive victories for just the second time, with the only other occasion being in their last relegation campaign in 2011-12.
Updated September 18, 2020