Manchester City without Pep Guardiola?

Speculation over Guardiola's future is not going away, with Premier League champions City set to be dethroned by Liverpool this season.

And a move to Paris Saint-Germain could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – PSG PREPARE MAMMOTH GUARDIOLA OFFER

French champions Paris Saint-Germain are trying to lure Pep Guardiola from Manchester City, according to the Express.

Amid uncertainty over Guardiola's future, the Ligue 1 holders are ready to make a huge offer to tempt the City manager to Paris.

Guardiola, whose side appear set to finish some distance behind Liverpool in the Premier League, has also been linked with a return to Barcelona, despite their appointment of Quique Setien this week.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Mirror, Premier League leaders Liverpool and rivals Chelsea will battle it out for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

- Juventus midfielder and former Liverpool star Emre Can is wanted by Everton, reports The Mirror. Can is out of favour in Turin and has been previously linked to Manchester United.

- Il Corriere dello Sport claims Sevilla want to sign Inter midfielder Matias Vecino, who appears destined to leave Milan ahead of Christian Eriksen's reported arrival from Tottenham.

- Speculation over Bruno Fernandes' future is set to drag on. Although he has been tipped to join United, Sporting CP and the Red Devils are reportedly miles apart in their valuations of the captain. While United want to bring in Fernandes this month, the Standard says they are threatening to abandon their pursuit over fears it could damage Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's transfer plans at the end of the season. Over-paying for Fernandes has prompted concerns it could impact United's interest in Leicester City star James Maddison and Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho.

Real Madrid are unwilling to loan out James Rodriguez, with Marca reporting the LaLiga giants are only interested in selling the Colombia international.

Fernandinho's stoppage-time own goal gave Crystal Palace a 2-2 draw at Manchester City, while Wolves fought back from two down to beat Southampton and Norwich City claimed a huge Premier League win on Saturday.

Cenk Tosun's first Palace goal put the London club in front, but Aguero equalised with his 250th for City eight minutes from time before putting the second-placed champions in front at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's side were unable to see it out, though, as Fernandinho turned the ball into his own net to leave City 13 points behind leaders Liverpool, who play Manchester United in one of their two games in hand on Sunday.

Resurgent Saints looked set to move into the top half when they were two up at St Mary's Stadium, but Raul Jimenez's double after a Pedro Neto strike moved Wolves up to sixth.

Norwich striker Teemu Pukki scored the only goal against second-bottom Bournemouth, who had defender Steve Cook sent off for a spectacular save, while fellow strugglers Aston Villa drew 1-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion.

John Fleck rescued a 1-1 draw for Sheffield United at Arsenal, while it was the same scoreline in the clash between David Moyes' West Ham and his former club Everton.

 

CITY SLIP UP DESPITE AGUERO BRACE 

Palace claimed a stunning 3-2 win at City last season and looked like picking up another three points until Aguero intervened with a late brace.

New boy Tosun headed the Eagles into a first-half lead with his first goal for the club, but the leading overseas scorer in Premier League history levelled to take his City tally to 250 and struck again with time running out.

VAR overturned a penalty decision after Jairo Riedewald was penalised for handball before Aguero equalised and there was more drama when Wilfried Zaha squared the ball, with Fernandinho turning it into his own net.

 

WOLVES BRING SAINTS BACK DOWN TO EARTH

Saints, on a high after five wins and a draw from their last six games, appeared to be making further strides up the table after Jan Bednarek and Shane Long put them in command at half-time.

But Wolves were transformed after the break, Neto giving them hope and the clinical making Jimenez no mistake from the penalty spot following a VAR intervention for Jack Stephens' challenge on Jonny.

Jimenez was on target again to win in 13 minutes from time, Adama Traore setting the striker up with his second assist, to give Wolves a first win in five in all competitions.

 

CHERRIES PAY THE PENALTY FOR IMPULSIVE COOK STOP

Norwich claimed their first top-flight win since November courtesy of a Pukki penalty as Bournemouth endured another miserable afternoon at Carrow Road.

Pukki converted from 12 yards 33 minutes in after Cherries defender Steve Cook made an acrobatic one-handed stop to keep out Kenny McLean's goal-bound shot.

Cook was given his matching orders and there was no way back for Bournemouth, who have picked up only four points from their last 12 games, as Norwich held on despite Ben Godfrey's dismissal 13 minutes from time.

David Moyes admitted he would be "interested" in any player he believes could improve West Ham, though he stopped short of confirming reported interest in Ross Barkley.

England international Barkley has been linked with a January loan move to the Hammers, who missed out on Gedson Fernandes after he joined rivals Tottenham on Wednesday.

Midfield is an area of need for West Ham given Jack Wilshere continues to be beset by injury problems and Barkley is thought to be of interest to Moyes.

Former Everton boss Moyes handed a 17-year-old Barkley his Premier League debut back in 2011 and was asked about the two linking up again at London Stadium.

"One thing I won't do is not talk about players at other clubs," Moyes said at a news conference.

"Anything which we think will improve our side I will be interested to bring in."

Barkley played 27 times in the Premier League for Chelsea last season under Maurizio Sarri but has fallen down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge since Frank Lampard's arrival.

He started Lampard's first Premier League game in charge, a 4-0 loss to Manchester United in August, but has made only five further starts in the top flight.

A foot injury suffered in October kept Barkley out for nearly two months, while the midfielder was also criticised by Lampard after two videos emerged - one of him arguing with a taxi driver in Liverpool and another of him dancing topless in a Dubai nightclub.

On the field, Barkley scored four goals in six appearances for England in Euro 2020 qualifiers.

On the prospect of signing British players, Moyes added: "It's not easy to get British players.

"[It is] maybe easier to get a Premier League player or from abroad but still trying to get the right ones in is important.

"We are working on two or three things at the moment, but we are not close to anything."

Harry Kane may have suffered an untimely injury, but England boss Gareth Southgate could well be blessed with a wealth of attacking options heading into Euro 2020.

Kane's hamstring injury should not see him miss the European Championship, but it has handed plenty of England hopefuls the chance to prove their worth.

And it seems as though this season, the Premier League belongs to homegrown forwards.

Jamie Vardy – who has retired from international duty – leads the way with 17 goals, ahead of three players sharing second place in the scoring charts with 14: Danny Ings, Marcus Rashford and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal striker Aubameyang is one of only four non-English players to take their place in the Premier League's list of leading scorers as things stand, along with Sergio Aguero, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Raheem Sterling, Tammy Abraham and Kane complete the top 10 and, using Opta data, we assess whether the 2019-20 Premier League campaign is an anomaly or the start of something new.

SIX OF THE BEST

Vardy's incredible form has been key to propelling Leicester City up the league, with Brendan Rodgers' side currently sitting third. 

The 33-year-old has 17 league goals to his name this season, though it is another Englishman who has been making the headlines recently – one who downed the Foxes last time out. 

Southampton's Ings has scored 10 goals in his past 11 top-flight appearances and is already the highest-scoring Southampton player in a single season since Jay Rodriguez in 2013-14. 

Level with Ings is Manchester United's Rashford, who seems to have finally taken up the mantle as the Red Devils' talisman and has scored 19 times across all competitions, one less than England team-mate Sterling, who has 11 league goals. 

Chelsea's transfer ban in the off season handed Abraham the chance to shine, and shine he has, scoring 13 times in the top flight, two more than England captain Kane. 

It should also be noted the six leading English scorers all represent different clubs, showing that homegrown talent is shared across the league. 

THE NEXT GENERATION

Of the English players leading the way this season, two – Rashford and Abraham – are 22, while City sensation Sterling is only just 25.  

Indeed, only Vardy, of the English forwards in the top 10, is above the age of 30. 

After overcoming a glut of injury issues, Ings is finally hitting his stride once more, with Southampton the benefactors.  

But, with the 27-year-old averaging a goal every 109.8 minutes in the league – a figure bettered only by Vardy among the other English players – Ings must be in serious contention for a place in Southgate's squad for the upcoming friendlies against Italy and Denmark. 

There is also plenty of potential for the future outside of the players in the top 10. After Sterling and Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the highest-scoring English player and the 22-year-old seems to be coming into his own for Everton. 

He has scored eight league goals and 10 in total across all competitions, while United's Mason Greenwood is the highest-scoring teenager in the competition. 

Away from the Premier League, Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho has been lighting up the Bundesliga since his move from City in 2017.

HISTORY SAYS...

Only twice in the past nine Premier League seasons has an English forward won the Golden Boot, with Tottenham star Kane doing so in both 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Last season, the award was shared between Mane, Salah and Aubameyang, though each only managed 22 goals – the lowest amount since Carlos Teves finished top of the charts with 20 in 2010-11.

Since the start of the previous decade there has been a steady increase in the number of English players finishing in double figures for the season, with five last term being the most. But with six players inside the top 10 – and Calvert-Lewin not far away – this season, 2019-20 is proving the best season for homegrown strikers in that timeframe.

With Euro 2020 on the horizon, it appears this could well be the season that kick-starts a new wave of English talent starring in the big time.

Roberto Firmino scored the only goal of the game as relentless Liverpool won at Tottenham to go 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League following Leicester City's defeat to Southampton.

Firmino's first-half strike on Saturday took the runaway leaders to 61 points, a European record among the continent's big-five leagues after 21 games played.

Liverpool look unstoppable in their quest to be crowned champions of England for the first time in 30 years, with second-placed Leicester – who have played a game more than the Merseyside club – slumping to a 2-1 loss at home to Southampton.

The Foxes consigned the Saints to a record-equalling 9-0 drubbing in October, but had three goals ruled out for offside at the King Power Stadium and Danny Ings' 10th goal in his last 10 top-flight starts gave the south-coast club sweet revenge.

Manchester United replaced Sheffield United in fifth spot with a 4-0 drubbing of Norwich City at Old Trafford, Marcus Rashford claiming a brace, after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored and was sent off in Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.

Chelsea are five points better off than the Red Devils in fourth, having avoided a third successive Premier League home defeat with a 3-0 victory over Burnley.

Richarlison scored the only goal in Everton's win over Brighton and Hove Albion at Goodison Park, while Newcastle United and Wolves had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Molineux.

 

FIRMINO GIVES REDS CAPITAL GAINS

Jurgen Klopp's all-conquering side took another stride towards an elusive title by making it 20 wins out of 21 in the Premier League.

A clinical finish from Firmino eight minutes before half-time was enough to seal maximum points in north London.

Son Hueng-min and Giovani Lo Celso squandered great chances to level for Spurs and they proved to be costly as Jose Mourinho's side suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats to sit in eighth spot.

INGS KEEPS SAINTS MARCHING

Southampton pulled off a magnificent victory to leave high-flying Leicester stunned.

Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans had goals disallowed for offside and Southampton had a penalty decision overturned by VAR in an action-packed encounter.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's upwardly mobile side were not to be denied maximum points, though, courtesy of a deflected first-half strike from Stuart Armstrong and a 14th of the season in the league from Ings – who hit the crossbar twice – either side of Dennis Praet's first Leicester goal.

 

RUTHLESS UNITED HAMMER CANARIES

Manchester United responded to their 3-1 EFL Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City with a ruthless demolition of bottom side Norwich.

Rashford took his tally of league goals this season to 14 with one in each half and Anthony Martial scored United's third two minutes after the England striker helped himself to a double from the penalty spot.

Mason Greenwood was given far too much time to add a fourth soon after coming off the bench as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side ran riot, leaving Norwich still seven points adrift of fourth-bottom Aston Villa.

AUBA AND OUT

Aubameyang's 15th top-flight goal of the campaign gave the Gunners a first-half advantage at Selhurst Park, but things turned sour for the striker after the break.

The Gabon international was initially booked by referee Paul Tierney for a challenge on Max Meyer, but a red card was brandished after a VAR review which took over two minutes. 

Jordan Ayew's deflected strike had brought injury-hit Palace level before Aubameyang was ordered off and neither side could force a derby winner.

Danny Ings gave in-form Southampton sweet revenge over Leicester City and Manchester United hammered bottom side Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.

Leicester consigned the Saints to a record-equalling 9-0 defeat in October, but the second-placed Foxes – who had three goals ruled out – were beaten 2-1 at the King Power Stadium less than three months later.

Ings' 10th goal in his last 10 top-flight starts sealed all three points for a Southampton side who have now won three and drawn one of their last four Premier League matches.

Manchester United replaced Sheffield United in fifth spot with a 4-0 drubbing of Norwich at Old Trafford, Marcus Rashford scoring twice, after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored and was sent off in Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.

Chelsea are five points better off than the Red Devils in fourth, having avoided a third successive Premier League home defeat with a 3-0 victory over Burnley.

Richarlison scored the only goal in Everton's win over Brighton and Hove Albion at Goodison Park, while Newcastle United and Wolves had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Molineux.

 

INGS KEEPS SAINTS MARCHING

Southampton pulled off a magnificent victory to leave high-flying Leicester stunned.

Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans had goals disallowed for offside and Southampton had a penalty decision overturned by VAR in an action-packed encounter.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's upwardly mobile side were not to be denied maximum points, though, courtesy of a deflected first-half strike from Stuart Armstrong and a 14th of the season in the league from Ings – who hit the crossbar twice – either side of Dennis Praet's first Leicester goal.

 

RUTHLESS UNITED HAMMER CANARIES

Manchester United responded to their 3-1 EFL Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City with a ruthless demolition of bottom side Norwich.

Rashford took his tally of league goals this season to 14 with one in each half and Anthony Martial scored United's third two minutes after the England striker helped himself to a double from the penalty spot.

Mason Greenwood was given far too much time to add a fourth soon after coming off the bench as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side ran riot, leaving Norwich still seven points adrift of fourth-bottom Aston Villa.

AUBA AND OUT

Aubameyang's 15th top-flight goal of the campaign gave the Gunners a first-half advantage at Selhurst Park, but things turned sour for the striker after the break.

The Gabon international was initially booked by referee Paul Tierney for a challenge on Max Meyer, but a red card was brandished after a VAR review which took over two minutes. 

Jordan Ayew's deflected strike had brought injury-hit Palace level before Aubameyang was ordered off and neither side could force a derby winner.

Carlo Ancelotti revealed Andre Gomes will return to individual training next week as the Everton midfielder continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

Gomes sustained a dislocation fracture to his right ankle during Everton's 1-1 draw with Tottenham in November, after a challenge from Son Heung-min, with early reports suggesting the former Barcelona player would miss the rest of the season.

However, Ancelotti – whose Everton side were beaten by a second-string Liverpool team in the FA Cup on Sunday – has issued a positive update on Gomes' status, though the Italian was unable to give a timeframe on the playmaker's return.

"Andre comes back next week and will start to train individually here," Ancelotti told a news conference on Friday, ahead of Everton's clash with Brighton and Hove Albion.

"It is good news because he is doing well. His recovery is going faster. I hope he can be with us [the squad] as soon as possible because he is a fantastic player."

Everton allowed striker Cenk Tosun to leave on loan to Crystal Palace on Friday and Ancelotti said the Toffees may add to their squad in January following a meeting with director of football Marcel Brands.

"We have had a positive meeting and, if there is some possibility to improve our squad, we are going to do that," the former Napoli boss said.

"I have the total support of the owner, the board and the director of football."

Cenk Tosun has joined Crystal Palace on loan from Everton until the end of the season, the Eagles have confirmed.

The Turkey striker moved to Goodison Park in January 2018 and has scored nine goals in 44 Premier League appearances.

However, the 28-year-old has found game time hard to come by at Goodison Park this term, starting just twice in the top flight.

Tosun will aim to kick-start his career in England's top flight with an Eagles side that have scored just 19 goals this term, the second lowest in the Premier League.

Speaking at a news conference, manager Roy Hodgson said Tosun could face Arsenal on Saturday.

He said: "He is in contention to be in tomorrow's squad. I'm very grateful for Everton to allow this to be done in time. It's important as we still have eight players missing.

"Cenk has been heavily scouted by the club. We're very pleased to have him with us and know the qualities he can bring to the squad."

Born in Germany, Tosun came through the youth ranks at Eintracht Frankfurt before enjoying spells in Turkey with Gaziantepspor and Besiktas.

The Toffees forked out a reported £20million for his signature two years ago.

Tottenham appear close to landing a replacement for Harry Kane, while Thomas Lemar could also be set for the Premier League.

Kane needs surgery on his left hamstring and is not expected to return to training for Spurs until April.

It seems the Premier League club are nearing a move for Milan forward Krzysztof Piatek, although there are contrasting reports over the status of the deal.

And, Atletico Madrid midfielder Lemar could also be heading to London.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS CLOSE TO LANDING PIATEK AS KANE REPLACEMENT

Tottenham have agreed a deal worth £28million (€32.95m) for Piatek, according to The Sun.

However, the Mirror reports Spurs have had a loan bid for the 24-year-old Poland international rejected, although talks are continuing.

After netting 11 times in 21 games for Milan last season following a January move from Genoa, Piatek has four goals in 18 this campaign.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea and Tottenham are both trying to sign Atletico's Lemar on loan until the end of the season, according to The Telegraph. Lemar is linked with an Atletico exit after just nine LaLiga starts this season.

- While Christian Eriksen's possible Spurs exit will dominate headlines this month, it appears the midfielder will not be heading to Old Trafford. Sky Sports reports Manchester United have ruled out making a bid for the Denmark international this month.

- Searching for a right-back, Tottenham are keen on signing Barcelona's Nelson Semedo, according to the Mirror. The position has been a problem for Spurs since Kieran Trippier's off-season move to Atletico.

- Javier Hernandez's stay at Sevilla could be coming to an end. Marca reports the club could let the forward, who has one goal in nine LaLiga games this season, leave amid apparent interest from LA Galaxy.

- Leicester City are trying to sign Juventus defender Merih Demiral, according to the Mirror. Manchester City and Everton are also reportedly interested in the Turkey international.

- Piatek aside, there may be other moves at Milan. La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira says Roma are interested in Suso and Cengiz Under could be heading to San Siro, while Milan are still eyeing Inter's Matteo Politano.

- Could David Moyes and Marouane Fellaini reunite for a third time? Sky Sports reports Moyes' West Ham are interested in signing the Shandong Luneng midfielder, who played under the Scot at Everton and Manchester United.

Adam Lallana has claimed Liverpool always expected to beat Everton in the FA Cup, despite Jurgen Klopp fielding a youthful and inexperienced side.

Curtis Jones' stunner continued Liverpool's dominance of Merseyside derbies on Sunday, as Carlo Ancelotti's team succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Anfield.

Jones, 18, was one of a number of youth players who started for the Reds, with Klopp resting Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson.

After James Milner went off injured early on, Lallana took over as captain, but the former Southampton midfielder insists Liverpool never lacked belief they would defeat Everton, who have not won at Anfield since 1999.

"It was good but we expected to win. We said before the game that no matter what teamsheet we had, we're at home, we expect to win," Lallana told Liverpool's official website.

"I think it was important that we went out there with that mentality because it’s such a fortress, Anfield, and the young lads are around us experienced players day in, day out in training and it's why the level is so high because in training we give them good games, we keep them on their toes and I think that absolutely showed out there.

"It's the mentality that is instilled throughout Liverpool and that started when the manager came in. He wanted to create his own way of playing, his own mentality and you saw that throughout the whole 90 minutes.

"I thought second half we were outstanding, the way we controlled the game, got the goal and they never really caused us any problems.

"Adrian was magnificent in the first half and had to make two or three big saves, but that's what he's there for. I thought we fully deserved the win and to get into the next round."

Everton passed up several golden chances in the first half, but the visitors did not trouble Liverpool after the interval, with Jones' strike enough to secure progression. 

"He's a confident boy," Lallana said of the teenager, who made his Premier League debut against Bournemouth in December.

"It's important he keeps his feet on the ground now after such a high and that he keeps working hard, keeps listening to the manager and keeps learning from all the experienced players that he's working with day in, day out.

"He's going to want to obviously play more, but with the injuries we've got at the minute it's important that he's around us and he's a big part of the team."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised Takumi Minamino's "outstanding" debut for the club in a 1-0 FA Cup win over Everton on Sunday.

A January arrival from Salzburg, Minamino started for a youthful Liverpool in the victory at Anfield.

Klopp liked what he saw from the 24-year-old Japan international as Curtis Jones' 71st-minute stunner put the European champions into the fourth round.

"Super. Outstanding. Exactly the player we wanted, exactly the player we wished for," he told a news conference.

"In your first game in a team that you don't know, if it's a settled team it's already difficult, this team we threw on the pitch with more or less two sessions together and then showing this kind of game understanding, [his] football skills are exceptional, attitude is outstanding, leading the chasing pack so often in different situations.

"It was a nice add on to have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back because he looked pretty lively when he came on, trains only two days now and that's why he didn't start.

"But yeah it was super."

Liverpool, who are 13 points clear at the top, are next in action with a trip to Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp was keen to share the praise among his young Liverpool charges after the FA Cup victory over Everton and tipped match-winner Curtis Jones for a bright future.

Liverpool boss Klopp named a young team for their Merseyside derby in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

But the unheralded group, aided by the likes of Adam Lallana and Divock Origi, thrived at Anfield, claiming a 1-0 victory thanks to Jones' sensational 71st-minute strike.

It was the midfielder's first goal for the club and he later told BBC Sport he had grown frustrated by a lack of opportunities under Klopp.

The Reds manager welcomed the 18-year-old's confidence, although he also wanted Jones' team-mates to get some recognition too.

"I love it," Klopp told a news conference of Jones' performance. "But I want to say one thing: everybody will ask about Curtis Jones, but there were so many extremely good performances tonight.

"The goal was exceptional, and the boy's an outstanding player, but I can't understand why nobody so far has asked me about Pedro Chirivella, about Neco Williams, about Yasser Larouci. You have to score, otherwise we ignore you?

"So, let me speak about Curtis - unbelievable player, Scouser, very confident. He can't wait to play in the first team. Good, rightly so. He's in a very good way.

"I've known him three and a half years. He's made big steps and will be a Liverpool player, if nothing strange happens, 100 per cent.

"That he scored this kind of goal, I'm not surprised. He is for these situations. But there's still a lot to learn and a lot to improve.

"But sometimes we forget as well in training - he's 18. Unbelievable.

"In Germany, because it's a different system, he'd still play one year 100 per cent in the youth team and nowhere else. Here, he is around the first team."

Liverpool lost James Milner to injury early on, but Klopp saw that as the only negative on an evening of positives.

"All the rest of the night was absolutely perfect," Klopp said. "It was a sensationally good performance of a not very experienced team.

"For a lot of the players, it was the first time playing on this kind of stage, in front of this crowd, against this opponent. It was outstanding. I loved it. I loved each second of it."

Everton were humbled despite Carlo Ancelotti picking a strong side, and he told Everton TV: "We are disappointed, of course. We are out of this competition. It was important.

"The regret in the first half was that we had clear opportunities to score and we were not able to score. We were a little bit unlucky and not precise.

"The second half was different. We were not able to create opportunities. We went up from the back but we were too slow and had difficulty creating.

"We had a lack of energy and it was there that we lost the game. If we had kept the intensity of the first half in the second, we could have won."

All eyes were on Takumi Minamino.

With Jurgen Klopp confirming most of his star players were to be rested for the visit of Everton, his new signing was to be thrust straight into the action in front of expectant Reds fans.

Minamino's ability and mentality had been plain to see at close quarters for Liverpool already this season, the Japan international having played against his new club twice in the Champions League with Salzburg.

His displays in that competition suggested Minamino was perfectly suited to Liverpool, stylistically at the very least.

A comfort on the ball, clever movement in attack and creativity marked the Japan international out as a standout player in the group stage of the competition, and he ranked among the most productive players in terms of assists and big chances created.

Those traits also suggested he could fit in perfectly with Liverpool's incumbent attacking trident of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

None of those featured against Everton on Sunday, as Minamino played his first game since a £7.25million from the Austrian champions. Flanked by 16-year-old Harvey Elliott and Divock Origi, there were hints of promise.

The new arrival filled the role usually taken by Firmino and it was easy to see why, particularly in the first half, as Minamino often dropped deep to link up with the midfield, showcasing his associative quality.

A burst in the 33rd minute showed precisely what Minamino will bring to Liverpool, as he took up possession in midfield and drove forward alone, before being hauled down. Unlucky to not win a free-kick, the forward had relieved pressure on the midfield trio and singlehandedly started an attack.

The two first-half occasions that Liverpool looked most likely to score from had Minamino at the centre – firstly glancing a header just wide having found space behind Yerry Mina, then forcing a poor back pass with his pressing, nearly getting there ahead of Jordan Pickford.

But let's not get carried away – it was by no means the perfect debut. Minamino spent much of the second half – before his 70th-minute withdrawal – frustrated, with Liverpool moving the ball a little slower and Everton preventing him making runs in behind.

With Liverpool in control more than they had been before half-time, Minamino found it difficult to find space amid Everton's packed defence and he doesn't have the physical prowess to be that kind of nuisance.

The FA Cup third round, a Merseyside derby – it had the makings of the ideal bow for Minamino but, perhaps fittingly, it proved to a be a local kid who stole the show.

When Minamino was struggling to make an impact, 18-year-old Curtis Jones came to the fore. The attacking midfielder relished the fact the Reds were seeing more possession, allowing him to flourish.

Mostly working from the left, Jones was gutsy and showed admirable confidence on the ball, often looking to beat his man or pick out a key pass – of which he ended the game with a joint match-high of three.

The Liverpool academy product has long been held up as a potential homegrown star and showed why there has been so much hype with his winning goal.

After an eye-catching flicked pass into the box for Origi, he got the ball back, took a touch and curled an audacious 20-yard effort into the top-far corner, out of the reach of Pickford.

In a contest that was typified by work ethic – or lack thereof in Everton's case – this was a moment of pure individual inspiration, rightly deciding the match.

While Minamino's performance was far from thrilling, he did show glimpses that suggest he will fit in perfectly with Klopp's style of play, eventually.

Jones, however, already appears to be the archetypal Klopp midfielder - crafty, snappy and confident.

With James Milner suffering an injury early on and Jones thriving against a full-strength Everton, further chances should be just around the corner for the Reds' academy product.

Now all eyes are on Jones.

Jurgen Klopp revealed James Milner suffered a muscular problem in Liverpool's 1-0 FA Cup win over Everton and described the injury as "a big, big blow" for the Reds.

Milner, one of five recognised senior players in the Liverpool starting XI, left the field after just nine minutes of the Merseyside derby, which was settled by Curtis Jones' superb second-half goal.

The injury will see Milner join Naby Keita, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri in the Liverpool treatment room, and leaves Klopp short of cover for Andy Robertson at left-back.

Debutant Yasser Larouci replaced Milner, who appeared to be holding his hamstring, and Klopp praised the 19-year-old defender along with the other young charges who impressed against an experienced Everton side.

Klopp told BBC Sport: "Millie [went] off, which is a big, big blow for us I have to say and it doesn't look too good, a muscle injury.

"But then Yasser coming on and just filling the role.

"It was an incredible game for us decided by a sensational goal from a Scouser. I cannot wish for more.

"It's just a really wonderful night, apart from Millie. The plan was not to play Millie in the last game. The plan was to play Naby but then Millie had to play and today he started again and now that [injury] happened, but we cannot change it."

Nat Phillips and Takumi Minamino made their Liverpool debuts in a team that also featured Neco Williams, Pedro Chirivella, Harvey Elliott and Jones - a quartet of players under the age of 23.

Klopp felt the performance and the result justified the decision not to send any of those who featured out on loan, praising their determination to force their way into his first-team plans.

"You cannot perform like the boys performed today if you think to yourself you should not play in that team," said Klopp. "They have to think that they are ready.

"None of these kids are fine being sent back to the under-23s, but if they were out on loan somewhere that they would maybe play more they would not be here tonight and we would not have a team actually.

"It's already clear they are good enough. What you have to show is respecting our principles. Counter-press is not a proposal; it's the law. And they played brave football.

"Unbelievable performances tonight from the kids but from the adults as well."

Curtis Jones revealed he had been frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities at Liverpool before scoring an incredible Merseyside derby winner at Anfield.

Teenage midfielder Jones was playing for the fourth time this season for the European and world champions, who are 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand.

With plenty of competition for places in the Liverpool team, Merseyside-born Jones has found the lack of regular action tough.

He certainly took his opportunity on Sunday, though, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Everton, beating England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from 20 yards in spectacular fashion.

"I just go out there and try to play my game," Jones told BBC Sport. "I've had a bit of a tough time - maybe not tough, but frustrating at times.

"Being on the bench, I got a bit of a taste and then I'm on the bench again. There's times where in my head I'm begging to come on.

"I just tried to go out there and show what I'm capable of doing. Hopefully, I've topped that off with a good performance and, as everyone would say, a great goal."

Adam Lallana, captain after James Milner's withdrawal through injury early on, had sympathy for Jones but reminded his midfield colleague he was "playing for the best team in the world".

Lallana said: "[The youngsters] have been absolutely brilliant this season, their performances in training and games like this.

"It's frustrating at times for them because they obviously want to play.

"It's times like this that they get the opportunity to show what they're capable of. As the manager's said, they're more than ready to play.

"It's frustrating because they're playing for the best team in the world. That's a fact.

"They're training with us day in and day out, and I'm delighted [Jones] took his opportunity - as did everyone else."

Jones added of his emotions: "I can't really [describe it]. For me, it's huge just being around these [players] every day and learning from the experienced ones, the ones that have had a great career.

"There's world-class players in our team, as you can see, and I learn every day. I think it showed out on the pitch."

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