Sky Blue News: Pep Presser, Phil Fitness, Erling Extension?, and More...

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Manchester City men are getting ready to kick off the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich. The women are back in training ahead of a Sunday visit from the Hammers. Sky Blue News is here with all the latest to get you ready.

Manchester City ‘gave Jude Bellingham a gift in October’ - Ben Sully - Sports Mole

Liverpool were one of the contenders to secure his signature before they recently pulled out of the race, but they could still reignite their pursuit in 2024.

However, Man City and Real Madrid are both interested in signing the England international in the upcoming transfer window.

According to The Sun, the Citizens began their charm offensive in October when they presented Bellingham with a shirt signed by Erling Braut Haaland.

Man City invited Bellingham into their dressing room following a goalless draw with his Dortmund side in the Champions League group stage.

The 19-year-old was then given the top that was worn by Haaland, who played with Bellingham at Dortmund for two seasons.

Pep Guardiola has allegedly made Bellingham his priority target for the summer transfer window, with Man City looking to sign a new midfielder.

Pep Talk: “We have been six/seven years on top of all competitions, and still we are there!” - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Manchester City travel to Bayern Munich as the club looks to set its pass to the semi finals of the UEFA Champions League. Pep Guardiola had a lot to say and was in good spirits as his club look for the safe passage.

Let’s dive in to the quotes:

Pep on Foden

“We are delighted! It’s definitely good news for us. He has trained just one training session, but we decided that he will travel with us and be on the bench.”

“Of course not 90 minutes [vs Bayern Munich]. Because of his physicality, he doesn’t need many training sessions to be fit...”

Pep on Bayern

“We are going to defend [vs Bayern Munich], for sure. Part of the game is you have to defend, and we are going to defend tomorrow...”

“I’ve been here at Bayern Munich and I know the mentality of this club. It’s everywhere... it’s in the skin. [A comeback vs City] It’s possible...”

ALVAREZ: PLAYING IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IS A BEAUTIFUL THING - Jack Mumford - ManCity.com

In the winter, he played a crucial role as Argentina lifted the World Cup. Since then, he has returned to the Etihad determined to help Pep Guardiola’s side as we chase trophies in three competitions.

However, Alvarez does believe the quality of opponents in Europe is higher than he has previously experienced.

“Yes, at club level it’s obviously noticeable,” he said.

“It is Europe, most of the best players in the world play in these leagues.

“Although Copa Libertadores is also very difficult because of what football means in South America.

“Speaking of the World Cup, there are also very strong teams, but here in Europe, in these types of competitions the best teams are here.

Pep Guardiola confirms Phil Foden boost ahead of Man City vs Bayern - Simon Bajkowski - Manchester Evening News

Guardiola will name Foden on the bench for the European tie and considers him to be back for their pursuit of three titles. Even if the youngster is unable to play a major part at the Allianz Arena, his presence in Munich is an encouraging sign that he will be able to feature more in the upcoming matches; Sheffield United are next up in the FA Cup at the weekend before the top-of-the-table Premier League clash with Arsenal on Wednesday, April 26.

“We are delighted. It’s good news for us,” the manager said.

“He’s just had one training session yesterday. We are excited he will travel with us.

“[He can’t play] 90 for sure, but his physicality is special - a special player who doesn’t need lot of training sessions to be fit. It is important not just for tomorrow but for the schedule we have ahead of us.”

Ilkay Gundogan refuses to rule out Manchester City exit amid Barcelona talks - Harry Winters - City Xtra

The Catalan club are ‘growing increasingly confident’ of signing Gundogan following another round of talks with the player’s representatives last week, according to Paul Hirst of The Times.

Barcelona have reportedly offered the City skipper an initial two-year contract, with the option of a further year, a deal that is worth more than the shorter deal tabled by the Blues.

Gundogan has won 11 trophies including four Premier League titles with Manchester City, and could lift three more trophies this season, as Pep Guardiola’s side bid to win a treble.

City take a three goal advantage to Bayern Munich on Wednesday evening in the second-leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final, prior to an FA Cup semi-final on Saturday and a crunch clash with Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium next week.

Erling’s going nowhere! Man City ‘are set to offer star striker Haaland an extension’ on his £865,000-A-WEEK deal after his £175m release clause ‘was taken out in November when manager Pep Guardiola signed his own new contract’ - Sam Brookes - Mail Online

Upon arriving at the Etihad Stadium, Haaland had a £175m release clause inserted into his contract that could be activated in 2024, but only by teams outside of the Premier League.

According to The Athletic, that clause has now been removed and the club are ready to offer their star striker a new deal.

The clause was linked to Pep Guardiola’s future at the club, and was taken out after the Spanish coach signed a new contract in November to keep him at the Premier League champions until the summer of 2025.

City removed Haaland’s £175m release clause when Guardiola signed a new deal in November

Haaland is believed to be admired by Real Madrid, and dreams of playing at the Santiago Bernabeu, but is very happy at City, and the club believe he would be willing to agree improved terms on his contract that currently runs until 2027.

Although City have removed Haaland’s 2024 release clause, it remains unknown whether any further release clauses could kick in during the latter stages of his contract.

And finally... Johnny, Johnny Stones, he gets the Blues excited.

John Stones: Man City fans - and Erling Haaland - love Pep Guardiola’s do-it-all defender - Richard Martin

Manchester City fans have no shortage of idols at the moment, be it the insatiable Erling Haaland, long-time favourite Kevin De Bruyne or the reinvented Jack Grealish. But on Saturday, they were particularly pleased to see John Stones give them the lead against Leicester City with a scorching half volley from outside the area, and with his weaker left foot too.

As the defender ran over to the corner flag to celebrate and embrace Haaland, the fans began bellowing out “Jonny, Jonny Stones, Jonny, Jonny Stones” to the tune of Boney M’s ‘Daddy Cool’.

The 28-year-old might not be the most glamorous name in City’s squad, yet he is one of their best-loved players.

He is the third longest-serving member of the playing staff, behind only De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan, lifting eight major trophies in his seven years at the club.

And he is hugely respected by Pep Guardiola, who has always leapt to his defence in times of trouble.

There you have Cityzens. Stay with Bitter and Blue throughout the day. Follow @BitterandBlue1 on Twitter for all the latest from Bavaria. Sky Blue News returns tomorrow with more headlines. Come on City!!

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