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Sky Blue News: Cross Talk, Kovacic Speaks, What Next?, and More...

Headlines from Bitter and Blue for your Thursday.

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UEFA Champions League Final Previews - Thursday 8th June Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Manchester City have packed their bags and are headed to Istanbul to take on Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final. Internazionale will soon join them in Turkey as the two clubs prepare to face off at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium. Sky Blue News has the latest headlines to keep you in the know as we build toward matchday.


City are just one game from the Treble having already lifted the Premier League and FA Cup, with Dias a key figure at the heart of the backline.

We have conceded just five times in our 12 games in Europe so far this season, fewer than any side to have played in the Champions League in 2022/23.

This comes after a change in systems by Pep Guardiola, with the boss asking John Stones to step forward into midfield from his usual central defensive slot.

While that could have left Dias and the full-backs exposed, it has instead contributed to domination of the ball against giants of European football including Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

While that also affects Dias’ role on the pitch, the Portugal international believes it is the talent of Stones that has made it work so effectively.

“It has changed the way we do it. The biggest change is to John,” he said.

“From being to my side and then he has to go in the middle and have a completely different role from what it used to be.

“He has definitely showed us how good he is and how good he can be in that position. I am happy for him and I love him.

UCL Final: Manchester City vs Inter Milan: A Primer with Serpents of Madonnina - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

A fantastic Champions League Final comes to a conclusion as Manchester City face Inter Milan. We have the perfect preparation for you.

We talked with David from SB Nation’s Serpents of Madonnina for a primer on Inter Milan fans thoughts after a remarkable campaign to reach this spot.

Let’s dive right in!

1 Can you recap the season for Inter? Have they met expectations?

A: It’s been a rollercoaster. The hope back in August was the Scudetto with the return of Romelu Lukaku, but Inter proved far too inconsistent for that. Twelve league losses were obviously far too many and even put top-four qualification in question at one point when the team was on a six-game winless run. However, success in the Coppa Italia and Super Coppa helped make up for the Serie A struggles, and Inter’s red-hot form of late, with 11 wins in 12, has done the rest of the job to secure 3rd place and make the season more or less a success.

Man City preparing to make move for Real Madrid target Josko Gvardiol - Graeme Bailey - 90min

The left-footed centre-back was close to joining Chelsea last summer, but the Blues failed to secure a deal with Leipzig. Chelsea do still hold an interest, yet without any European competition to offer 2023/24, they have little hope of persuading the player to move to Stamford Bridge.

Gvardiol has a clause in his contract worth just shy of £100m that is due to kick in from 2024. But, as 90min revealed earlier this year, Leipzig are ready to take less than the figure to facilitate a move.

Gvardiol himself knows he will virtually have his pick of clubs when he decides to leave and 90min understands that, as it stands, his preferred options are Manchester City and Real Madrid.

City will make room in their squad with the sale of Spain international Aymeric Laporte, who has made it known he is ready to move and amid interest from clubs including Aston Villa and Tottenham.

‘A top team’ - Chelsea star Mateo Kovacic breaks silence on Man City transfer links - Issac Johnson - Manchester Evening News

Mateo Kovacic has left the door open for a switch to Manchester City after experiencing a “very bad” season at Chelsea.

Reports suggest the midfielder is already in talks with the Premier League champions while the futures of Bernardo Silva and club captain Ilkay Gundogan remain unclear.

As City gear up for the Champions League final on Saturday, Kovacic is readying himself for Croatia’s Nations League semi-final against the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Speaking to the media ahead of the clash, with a final against either Spain or Italy up for grabs, the 29-year-old addressed his future amid the transfer links with City, who are on the verge of the treble.

“I have one more year with Chelsea, this season was very bad,” the four-time Champions League winner said. “Everything is going towards the fact that after five good years I will change, but in football anything can happen. Right now, I’m focused on Croatia and the Nations League.”

‘Erling Haaland eats like a bear!’ - Cow hearts, ‘magic potion’ milk and the diet and lifestyle secrets fuelling Man City’s goal machine - Richard Martin - Goal

Haaland has experienced a huge growth spurt in recent years, fuelled by his insatiable eating habits. The striker says he consumes around 6,000 calories a day (adult men are supposed to consume around 2,500) and eating is a huge part of his life.

Norway team-mate Josh King said he had never seen anyone consume as much food as Haaland, remarking: “He just eats like a bear”. And there is something animalistic about the striker’s eating habits. While vegan diets have been become common among modern footballers, Haaland is an unashamed lover of meat.

That might have something to do with growing up in a rural community in Bryne, Norway, where he would help out his grandfather, a potato and pig farmer. But the type of meat he eats is unusual. As well as liking steak, Haaland eats cow’s hearts and livers. Even Dwayne Johnson, better known as The Rock, expressed surprise when he learned of Haaland’s diet.

The striker explained his eating habits in the documentary Erling Haaland: The Big Decision. “Eating quality food that is as local as possible is the most important,” he said. “People say meat is bad for you, but which? The meat you get at McDonald’s, or the local cow eating grass right there?”

What next for Manchester City if they win the Champions League? - Frank Dalleres - City A.M.

On Saturday against Inter Milan in Istanbul, City could tick the last box on their checklist by winning the Champions League – and equalling perhaps the greatest achievement ever seen in English football, the treble won by their neighbours and rivals Manchester United in 1999.

So with their mission indisputably accomplished, what will that mean for the club and their parent organisation, City Football Group?

Will the owners keep investing billions in City, recruit the next Pep Guardiola and sign more Erling Haalands, in order to rack up trophy after trophy in perpetuity?

Might they add more sister teams to the CFG multi-club network, which already boasts 12 siblings and a partner club?

Or could Abu Dhabi rein in investment, perhaps further diluting Sheikh Mansour’s 81 per cent stake in CFG with sales like those to US fund Silver Lake and Chinese investors?

Qatar had to face up to similar existential questions after the culmination of one of their huge sporting investments, last year’s men’s World Cup. One of its responses has been to rationalise the business of its other super-project, Paris Saint-Germain.

And finally... It was only a matter of time before Riyad was linked to the Saudi League.

From Fabrizio Romano: Saudi Pro League club’s interest in Manchester City superstar now ‘confirmed and concrete’ - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

It was first reported on Wednesday, as per CBS Sports, that Al Ahli’s president Waleed Muaath had traveled to London this week in an attempt to secure the signature of the five-time Premier League champion.

That interest follows a flurry of investments in some of Europe’s most prominent footballing stars, as the Saudi Arabian game looks to develop itself into one of the most captivating divisions in global football.

Real Madrid mega-star Karim Benzema completed a move of his own this week, joining Al Ittihad in a move that will see the Frenchman take home a paycheque of almost €200 million per season as a net salary, including commercial deals.

The latest player to be subject to interest from the Saudi government-funded league is Riyad Mahrez, with the opportunity to bring an end to his illustrious five-year stay at the Etihad Stadium potentially on the table.

According to the information of the ever-reliable transfer insider Fabrizio Romano, Saudi Arabian side Al-Ahli now have a ‘confirmed’ and ‘concrete’ interest in Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, as they want to sign Algerian international this summer.

There you ar Cityzens. Stay with Bitter and Blue for all the UCL latest. Sky Blue News returns tomorrow with more headlines.