Liverpool transfer for Luis Diaz reinforces Pep Guardiola’s Man City title commentary – Joe Bray

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If last weekend’s results weren’t evidence of Pep Guardiola’s title-run message, then Liverpool’s transfer business at the end of January certainly is.

After Manchester City took an 11-point lead in the Premier League after beating Chelsea, Guardiola wanted to play down title talks and insisted concentration would be needed in every match, referring to the “other team” as perfectly capable of reaching them.

City drew at Southampton the next time around, and that ‘other team’, Liverpool, beat Crystal Palace to reduce the gap to nine points. They have a match to go against Leeds, and they still have a visit to the Etihad to come in April. Win both, and just three points could separate the top two.

Guardiola is right to stress that nothing has been won yet, with City theoretically two defeats away from losing top spot. Now, Liverpool appear to be making another statement by signing a player who gave City nightmares at the Etihad last season.

The MEN understands that Liverpool offered an opening bid of £37.5m for Porto’s Luis Diaz, the winger who took on half of City’s defense to score in the Champions League last year.

For a team with three world-class strikers who have helped them win the Premier League and Champions League, plus solid backup options in Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino, signing another quick winger suggests they are keen to add more power from fire while keeping their existing attack as cool as possible.

And when it comes to the crucial showdown at the Etihad in early April, Diaz would be a shrewd pick for Jurgen Klopp.

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He’s had a good game there before, he’s ready for battle – as the entire Porto travel group was that night – and he offers a bold, direct approach that could make all the difference. After his solo goal and clever finishing put Porto ahead, City went on to win 3-1.

But they will be well aware of the impact Diaz had on the game.

He had a 90 per cent passing success rate, second only to City’s two centre-backs, and attempted more dribbles than any other player on the pitch, all in the City half. His two shots and 30 touches from the left kept Kyle Walker busy all night, targeting his side. City and Liverpool already know each other very well, so a wild card like Diaz could be a smart buy.

While the meetings between the two heavyweights of English football have been full of quality recently, there has also been a fair bit of bite and aggression. Diaz is a player who can contribute to both aspects of the rivalry, and with a goal or assist for Porto every 130 minutes, he also offers a clear threat to City’s goal.

Despite how the table currently looks, there is still very little separating these two title contenders, so it’s worth considering any advantage that may be gained in January. City are clearly happy with their team, while Liverpool appear to be turning to Diaz to shake up their title bid.

If he approaches this new challenge like he did in the group stage match at the Etihad in 2020, it is a stark reminder for the City players to listen to their manager and realize that they haven’t won a damn thing yet.

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‘The other team’ does not leave the title without a fight. And in Diaz, they have certainly picked a fighter.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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