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Sky Blue News: Ilkay Backs Erling for Ballon d’Or, Injury Updates, Transfer Talk, and More...

FriYay!! Headlines from Bitter and Blue.

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Sevilla v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

It’s Friday and Manchester City are set to host Brighton & Hove Albion at the Etihad on Saturday. Sky Blue News has all the latest to get you up to date for the Premier League clash at the weekend.

Ilkay Gundogan makes Ballon d’Or claim about Man City teammate Erling Haaland - Joe Bray - Manchester Evening News

Ilkay thinks Haaland has the juice to claim the Ballon d’Or.

Kevin De Bruyne became the first Manchester City player to finish in the top three of the Ballon d’Or standings this week, and there is confidence within the club that it won’t be long before a City player wins the award outright.

Whether that is De Bruyne, who continues to put in match-winning performances for club and country, or a younger teammate, is a matter for discussion, with Phil Foden another player capable of challenging for these awards in future.

“There is quality - everyone can see it. There is a lot of quality that he already brings. Into our team, into his game,” Gundogna told City’s website.

“But also, the way he is dealing with things that are important to him and the mentality, the determination he has on a match day and also in the training sessions in the locker room. I think that is something special. And on top of that he is humble.


Erling has certainly made a strong start toward winning his first Golden Ball.

Having arrived at the Etihad armed with an already formidable record first with Molde in his native Norway, and then at RB Salzburg and Dortmund, Haaland has enjoyed a quite remarkable start to life at City.

He has already scored 20 goals in his first two months at the Club, creating a host of records along the way, including scoring hat-tricks in three successive Premier League games at the Etihad.

Haaland was ranked 10th in the 2022 Ballon d’Or ratings at this week’s ceremony held in Paris, with Kevin De Bruyne finishing third and Karim Benzema lifting the prize.

And, as far as he is concerned, Gundogan says the hunger and desire which underpin Haaland’s approach to the game, means he will only get better – further increasing the prospect of him one day potentially lifting the coveted Ballon d’Or award.

John Stones returns to Manchester City training ahead of Brighton clash - Oliver Thomas - Sports Mole

Stones is getting closer, but it seems that he won’t make his return to the XI this weekend.

Manager Pep Guardiola revealed before the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool last weekend that Stones could return within the next week to 10 days.

However, the reigning Premier League champions have been provided with a boost ahead of Saturday’s fixture at the Etihad Stadium, as Stones has been pictured in first-team training with his teammates.

Guardiola could therefore have five central defenders available to face Brighton along with Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte.

The latter of whom has recently returned to first-team action after undergoing knee surgery over the summer and he will be hoping to make his first Premier League start of the season on Saturday.

However, Guardiola is unlikely to throw Stones straight into the starting lineup against the Seagulls, but he could be selected in the matchday squad and come off the bench to build up his match fitness.

Stones’s return to training is also a boost for England manager Gareth Southgate, who has recently seen a number of potential first-team candidates for his 2022 World Cup squad hit with injuries.

Gareth Southgate makes important England World Cup squad decision on Manchester City star - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

And speaking of City defenders. Walker may yet be ready to join the Three Lions in time for the trip to Qatar.

Two weeks into his recovery from an operation on his groin, and there is widespread optimism that the Manchester City man will play some part in England’s World Cup pursuit this winter.

Gareth Southgate is expected to announce his provisional squad in the coming weeks, and while Walker continues to work towards making a comeback, there is an understanding in some quarters that he will be a part of the team travelling to Qatar.

This is an understanding that is echoed in a new report this week, that reveals the positive outlook on the situation by England head coach Gareth Southgate.

Kyle Walker has been a mainstay in the national team manager’s squad over the past few years, playing integral roles in significant progress at major tournaments.

Report: Manchester United To Battle Manchester City For Serie A Star - Harri Burton - City Transfer Room

United are looking to pip City to the Inter starlet.

Some huge names across Europe have already been linked to Alessandro Bastoni, with Manchester City and Real Madrid said to be heavily targeting the Inter Milan defender.

Inter Milan currently sit in seventh in Serie A, eight points behind leaders Napoli. The side also have the worst defensive record in the top ten sides in the league, conceding 14 goals in 10 games.

Despite a woeful start to the campaign, Bastoni is still regarded as one of the best defenders in the league, with interest from all over coming in for the 23-year-old, due to his defensive prowess and ability to threaten in attack.

According to Fichajes, Manchester United have joined the race for the defender, with Erik Ten Hag a huge admirer of the Italian.

Man City ‘monitoring’ £9m Napoli winger and more transfer rumours - Dan Brown - Manchester Evening News

Meanwhile, City may be front-runners for Napoli’s young forward.

Manchester City are reportedly ‘monitoring’ Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia after the Georgian star’s strong start to the season for the Italian giants.

According to Calcio Mercato Web (as relayed by Sport Witness), both City and Premier League rivals Liverpool are following the 21-year-old with ‘great attention’ after he has ‘impressed everyone’ with his spectacular start to the campaign.

Kvaratskhelia, who joined Napoli from Dinamo Batumi in the summer transfer window, has scored seven goals and registered eight assists in just 14 matches this term - with Luciano Spalletti’s side currently top of the Serie A table, while also preforming well in the Champions League.


And finally... The Women’s boss gives the latest on his squad ahead of Spurs.

Our trip to Brisbane Road comes a little too soon for Alanna Kennedy and Ruby Mace to make their returns to the fold, but the boss insisted that the defensive duo remained on track with their respective recoveries.

“There’ll be a couple of doubts, but nothing outside of what we spoke of previously,” Taylor explained when asked about the squad in his pre-match press conference.

“Ruby and Alanna are a week further down the line than before and closer [to a return].

“Outside of that [there are] a few knocks, but everyone’s come through unscathed and looking forward to keeping the players healthy.

“That’s going to be important with the games we have, this period is a decent run of fixtures, a three-game week for us which we enjoy but keeping them healthy and ready to play is important.

“At the moment things are looking good.”

There you have it Cityzen’s. Bitter and Blue is your place for all the latest from around the Cityverse. So keep it right here.