FRIDAY'S BIG STORIES

Messi's move leaves Aguero stranded

Spare a thought for poor Sergio Aguero.
Serie A
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His end at Manchester City wasn’t quite the fairy-tale he’d have hoped, but at least he could have been relatively confident that things wouldn’t get better at the Etihad without him.
And then he went and turned it into a positive by uniting with his friend and the GOAT Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
Is it too dramatic to say the dream has become a nightmare?
Maybe, but it’s not far wrong.
City have just gone and smashed the English transfer record for one of the game’s most exciting creative talents, the sort of visionary player that Aguero would have absolutely relished playing alongside.
But at least he still gets to play with Messi.
What’s that? Barcelona have released a statement?
Forget Harry Kane and Jack Grealish. Barcelona’s Messi bombshell is the biggest news of the summer.
Yes, there is a chance they’ll come to some sort of agreement with La Liga and tempt him into a new deal after all. But there is a window of opportunity now for one of Europe’s mega clubs to snap him up before Barca sort themselves out.
And, judging by the speed of their approach on Thursday, PSG are not hanging about.
So now Aguero faces the prospect of having to watch Manchester City turn into the Harlem Globetrotters of the Premier League as their new star signings take the club to even greater heights, while the player he most wanted to line up alongside at Barcelona is plying his trade elsewhere.
And at the same time it will fall to a 33-year-old Aguero to prop up the fortunes of a club who have been mismanaged to the point of farce over recent years.
Sometimes sport is cruel.

Guardiola and Grealish… this should be fun!

So Jack Grealish is a Manchester City player.
The sparkling playmaker is now the most expensive player ever signed by Manchester City but also in English football’s history.
No pressure then.
And the fascinating part of it all is that it’s not immediately obvious where Grealish fits.
Of course a player of that quality (and price) will be a first-team fixture. But where exactly?
Grealish has been most effective at Villa off the left, but that is where Phil Foden excelled last season and also where Raheem Sterling prefers to play. Perhaps he could play as a 10.
But the talk is that Guardiola actually sees the 25-year-old’s future as a progressive central midfielder – a more attacking alternative to Ilkay Gundogan alongside Kevin de Bruyne in the middle of the park.
It’s a ridiculously exciting prospect that’s for sure. But it’s also going to need an awful lot of work from Grealish to adapt to that sort of role.
The free-spirited playmaker who captured England fans’ imagination with his throwback style in the summer is about to embark upon a reinvention under the watchful eye of one of the most controlling and demanding coaches in the game.
If it works it could be spectacular.
But it could be almost as spectacular if it fails.

And it’s LIVE... already?!

Every single year it feels like the Community Shield comes around too early. But this year it’s ridiculous isn’t it?
The Olympics are still going on.
The final of Euro 2020 wasn’t even a month ago.
And now Leicester City and Manchester City are about to get the domestic season underway.
Can you not hold off for just a little bit, maybe another week or so?

RETRO CORNER

Robin van Persie is 37 today, which provides the perfect excuse for digging out this, one of his finest moments in club football.
Van Persie was a remarkable footballer who achieved many special things for Arsenal and the Netherlands in particular (that header against Spain springs to mind).
But to produce a volley of this quality as part of a hat-trick in the game that secures your club the Premier League title? That takes some beating.

HAT-TIP

The flurry of Messi and Grealish hot-takes (including this one) threatened to see a lovely bit of writing by Seb Stafford-Bloor get lost in the digital football ether this week.
The Athletic writer’s contribution to the Totally Football Yearbook on Jose Mourinho’s legacy is a terrific summary of The Special One’s predictable pattern.
Mourinho’s place in the game is a fascinating topic. It’s not one for now, but rather for 10, 20 years in the future when all the emotion has drained away and his online army of sycophants have found full-time jobs. When his career exists in plain black and white and people pore over its second act, they’ll notice just how little changed. Not just the tactics and the personality, but the whole routine.
Read the full article HERE

IN THE CHANNELS

Canada face Sweden in the gold medal match of the women’s football tournament in Tokyo on Friday.
But, for at least one player involved, competing at these Olympics have meant much more than just the chance of a medal.
Shelina Zadorsky, the classy centre-back with 72 caps for Canada to her name, lost her cousin and one of her biggest fans to suicide earlier this year.
And the Tottenham Hotspur captain and her family have been raising funds through Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in memory of Carley before and during Tokyo 2020.
“It’s crazy how many people have experienced a close relative or friend or anyone struggling with mental health,” Zadorsky said in an interview with FIFA. “I want it to be talked about and I don’t want there to be this stigma that we’re always supposed to be fine all the time and to deal with things on our own.
“I want to use my platform to say it’s ok to ask for help,” Zadorsky said. “Having something happen so close to home, I realised that life is short and we need to help each other through these times. The reaction and the support that people provided was beyond what I could have ever expected. I really appreciate that.”
The Warm-Up can’t agree with that enough. Life is short, be good to each other.

COMING UP

That gold-medal match between Sweden and Canada at the Tokyo Olympics now kicks off at a rescheduled time of 1pm BST, so tune in for what promises to be a classic.
And even though it’s too soon for this match to be happening, the Community Shield is still going to be fun. Man City vs Leicester City gets underway at 5pm on Saturday.
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