•Messi then collected the ball, skipped past one defender and accelerated away from another before slotting the ball into the net to put Barcelona 4-0 up against Osasuna.
•Manchester City sit eleventh in the table after nine games but Pep believes things are about to change.
Messi’s great tribute to Maradona
Please allow me to mention something out of the Premier League to start my column this week.
In a well-prepared tribute to the recently deceased Maradona, his Barcelona heir, Lionel Messi nodded a tribute towards a Maradona Barcelona shirt which had been positioned in the stands at the Nou Camp last weekend.
Messi then collected the ball, skipped past one defender and accelerated away from another before slotting the ball into the net to put Barcelona 4-0 up against Osasuna.
He then pulled off his shirt to reveal a 1993 Newell’s Old Boys shirt from Argentina where Messi grew up adoring Maradona.
The shirt apparently was Maradona’s own personal shirt from that era. What a great tribute from one maestro to another.
Klopp proven right with mounting injury list
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has spent much of the last two weeks arguing with anyone and everyone and many people are fed up with his moaning.
However, I have some sympathy for him because his demand for five substitutes and a review of the crowded games schedule looks to be justified. “We will have serious injuries,” said Klopp and he has been proven right.
Klopp now has eight first-team squad members out with injuries and goalkeeper Alisson is the latest to join them as he pulled a hamstring during training.
Klopp has argued with the FA, fellow managers and even team players but so far has not convinced them for more time between midweek matches and Saturday games and his favourite chestnut, the three substitute rule to be changed to five.
City’s Garcia heading back to Spain
My Spanish contacts tell me that Real Madrid are uncertain about the intentions of their long-standing full-back Sergio Ramos. He is out of contract next June and can talk to other interested clubs from January.
Consequently, Real have contacted Manchester City to enquire about the possibility of signing Eric Garcia, who is also out of contract in June.
Garcia has told City executives that he does not intend to sign a new contract with them and would prefer a return to Spain.
Barca wanted to buy Garcia out of his contract early but were put off by City’s demand for £20million because they are steeped in financial problems at the moment. Garcia’s representatives were reluctant to comment but it is possible he could sign a pre-contract with Barca in January.
Cavani brings so much to United’s attack force
Despite many Manchester United critics claiming that the signing of Edinson Cavani was a big mistake, most of them have been made to eat their words. “Cavani is too old,” they said.
No one doubts his considerable ability, brilliant career record, and superb service for Paris St Germain but he was called “non-essential” by many United commentators, who added that his signing was in direct contradiction to Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s youth policy.
How wrong they all were and Edinson has rejuvenated the forward line and his runs off the ball, taking defenders with him, incisive passing and pressing play demonstrates great intelligence. He also has the ability to hold up play. He is an undoubted goal scorer as demonstrated last Sunday with two goals to secure a win against Southampton.
Cavani also pinpoints how largely mediocre Anthony Martial’s performances have been at the start of this season and Solskjaer has moved him out to the wing.
Cavani has been an excellent investment. However, everyone knows he is not the long-term answer to their goal-scoring attack.
United will try and land a quality striker next year such as Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland but if that does not happen, they will trigger the one-year option on Cavani’s contract.
Pep aims to win everything
Against upcoming opponents by Pep Guardiola standards, the start to the 2020/21 season has not been up to his usual excellence.
Manchester City sit 11th on the table after nine games but Pep believes things are about to change. Following their 5-0 demolition of Burnley, City are about to enter a crucial period.
Fulham this weekend looks a winner and then Manchester United on December 12. Guardiola believes he can put right the three defeats he suffered to the Reds last season.
However, after meeting United on December 12, City take on West Brom, Southampton, Newcastle and Everton and Guardiola believes they will win every game. That would put City back up at the top of the table. However, if he fails, many questions will be asked about whether he has rebuilt the right team for the next few seasons.
Clarets set to finally bring in a wealthy owner
Burnley are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and even with their talented manager Sean Dyche, it is hardly surprising.
I have been talking with several Burnley staff and they readily admit they are the poorest club in the Premier League and if you examine their financial investments compared with other top-level clubs, it is surprising that Burnley are even in this league.
The problems are highlighted by looking at the previous transfer window. Chelsea, for instance, spent over £200million. How much did Burnley spend? They forked out just £1million on Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens.
That could change shortly as owner Mike Garlick, who is worth £62million, is in advanced talks to sell his stake in the club to either Egyptian businessman Mohamed El Kashasky (worth £9.65billion) or American group, ALK Capital LLC, a wealthy investment company.
The Premier League has 17 billionaires owning top-flight clubs and it will be inspiring if manager Sean Dyche is able to buy top quality players. He has performed miracles at Burnley for eight years and deserves to be in charge of a better quality team.
New regulations will show what agents earn
I am delighted that Fifa is planning to introduce new regulations that will make transparent the amount of money an agent receives when a player is transferred.
We all know they are paid too much and hopefully, when fans realise it is their ticket money funding this overpaid middle-men, they might just be motivated to protest as they pay high-priced ticket fees and television subscriptions.
Welbeck promises goals at Brighton
The forgotten man of Premier League football is back. England international Danny Welbeck has played for Manchester United, Arsenal, Watford and now Brighton and Hove Albion have secured his talents.
Danny has reached 30 and is determined to prove he is still a top striker. He intends to repay the faith shown in him by Brighton manager Graham Potter, who has a habit of signing thoroughbreds who have fallen out of favour.
Welbeck has been telling us that he does not intend to treat the south coast holiday resort of Brighton as somewhere to comfortably see out the final years of his career. He has promised goals and lots of them.
He has already linked up well with his friend and England squad teammate Adam Lallana, who provided the assist for Danny’s first goal at Brighton. It is only two years since he broke an ankle after going to the World Cup.
Danny said: “My mission is to come here and score goals and help the team. That is the thing on my mind at the moment. Anything else that happens is a bonus. I am feeling fitter and stronger each week so there is plenty more to come.”
Potter said: “He’s a breath of fresh air and enjoying his football and he needs that. We are enjoying having him here.”
Alonso’s possible move across London
I am a fan of Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso. I think he is a good defender who can make darting runs along the left line and work closely with his midfielders.
However, he has fallen out of favour and manager Frank Lampard has not used the 29-year-old since he was subbed at half time against West Brom in September.
There were reports phoned to me that Alonso was so annoyed that he left the stadium and tried to watch the second half on the team bus. This angered Lampard and led to Alonso’s demise within the Blue’s squad.
I am told that Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is keen to sign him, following in the footsteps of Gary Cahill who left Chelsea for the South London club and has been a great success.
Everton have eyes on Spur’s stars attacker
An interesting situation has occurred involving Tottenham and Everton. Spur’s manager Jose Mourinho has demoted Dele Alli, Harry Winks and third-choice goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga into the ranks of the reserves.
Alli was linked with Paris St Germain recently but that did not happen. Winks has admitted that having played for England, he is finding his current situation at Spurs difficult. Gazzaniga has dropped behind summer signing Joe Hart and although he covered for Hugo Lloris’ injury last season, he has been rarely used since.
Everton spent big money in the last transfer window and in January wants to look at loans and cheap deals. They are monitoring Alli and Winks, who could both be available on loan and Gazzaniga would possibly be a cheap buy.
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti is also talking about the possibility of bringing in Lazio’s Luis Alberto, who has performed well since leaving Liverpool.
Everton’s main focus is playing European football and it remains to be seen if Spurs will let their players go to a Premier Club rival.