The Champions League final takes place this weekend with our Global Football Ambassador’s former club Manchester City taking on Inter Milan. Our man gave us a chunk of his valuable time to discuss past experience in this fixture, where the game will be won and lost and what it would mean for City to finally get over the line, plus a whole host of other topics from the world of football.
Champions League Final
Manchester City are back in the Champions League final. What do you remember from the 2021 final against Chelsea?
We were very excited to be able to win our first Champions League. But it was not to be.
They were able to score a goal and it was difficult for us to convert. In short, it is football.
And these things happen.
Of course we would have liked another result. It was a disappointment but I'm sure it adds up as an experience and that it will be useful for everything to come.
Did Pep Guardiola’s tactics in Porto surprise you?
Pep is very clear about what he wants and in that he is consistent, something that has merit because it means that he believes in what he does.
We didn't go out onto the field with the usual midfielder but afterwards Pep made the adjustments and we were in the game.
But we couldn't break the Chelsea defence and unfortunately we couldn't win the Champions League.
How disappointing was it not to start such a momentous fixture, given it was your final game for Manchester City?
I had not been a starter, so coming off the bench was not a surprise.
My colleagues had been doing very well.
Of course, I would have liked to be able to help the team more and end my cycle at the club with a more accomplished and important goal.
How does losing the Champions League final compare to losing a World Cup final?
They are different things.
The feeling that remains is similar, because you did not achieve what you were looking for so much.
But the Champions League is played every year. And one World Cup every four.
One is in your club and the other in the team of your country.
That makes it different. Afterwards, the bad taste for not having succeeded lasts a long time.
Edin Dzeko has played a huge part in getting Inter Milan to this stage. Is he the best striker you played with? Does his role in the 2012 Premier League title winning match against QPR still go under the radar?
We all know that Edin is a true goal scorer and a player who is very committed to the team.
He demonstrated it with us. I always give great value to the goal that he scored in 2012 because that later allowed us to complete the comeback and win that important game.
It was a key goal that I always remember and gave it the dimension it had.
Today he is still that dangerous player who can score at any time.
No wonder he had such a good season at Inter.
He always demands, he is very important in the passing game.
Surely he will be one of those that City have to be especially careful of.
Romelu Lukaku will be looking to send a message for Inter. How will City defend against his unique attributes?
Inter have a great forward.
We are talking about Edin, but we must talk about Lautaro who, having overcome his physical problems after the World Cup, has been key for the Italian club, and if we add Lukaku we see the power they have.
Lukaku brings a lot of physical play, holds the ball very well and in addition to being a goal scorer, he posts up to leave his teammates to define.
In short, one of the best firepower in Europe.
What team should Pep start with in Istanbul?
I suppose that the formation that he has been putting on the field will not change.
It will be necessary to see how the players arrive that day, if any have physical problems.
But from what I've seen, in the most important events, Pep has put up a similar eleven.
With three centre-backs, Stones joining midfield near Rodri, with Gundo and Kevin moving up and down the attacking front, Bernardo and Grealish wide open on the wings and Haaland at centre-forward.
In any case, as I said, it will be necessary to see how they are physically and if Pep does not opt for any modification.
Does Erling Haaland deserve to win the Ballon D’Or if he completes the treble for Manchester City?
If that happens, he will surely be among the candidates and with a chance of winning it.
We know that winning the Champions League is very important when choosing the Ballon d'Or.
Have you got another cigar ready if Manchester City can get past Inter Milan?
You always have to be prepared, right?
Do you think Harry Kane will beat Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record? (Kane has 213 goals and the record stands at 260)
He has everything to achieve it. Although it will be necessary to see what happens in the transfer market.
If he stays in England, and by the numbers he has achieved year after year, it is possible that he will achieve it. He is a great player with an enormous ability to score.
Mauricio Pochettino has returned to the Premier League with Chelsea, how good an appointment is that?
His input can be very valuable.
Already at Tottenham he has shown his worth and as a power to young players.
He has a big task ahead of him because he has a very large squad and he will have to find a balance.
Chelsea, in addition to the previous market in which it has had many incorporations, has had a policy of buying young players who can get to assemble very well.
You have to give him time to do his job and I'm sure you'll see the results.
Can the Argentine get the best out of your fellow countryman Enzo Fernandez at Stamford Bridge?
As I said, Poch always empowered his young players, and Enzo is one of those.
This was his first season in England and although Chelsea did not perform well, he showed that he is up to the task of this great league.
I think that with Pochettino's hand he will perform even more and better.
Julian Alvarez seems to have gone under the radar at Manchester City. What have you made of his first season?
Julián has been very positive from every point of view.
I always say that a first season in Europe after coming from South American football is not easy.
However, Julián has managed to fit in very well and rise to the occasion in a club as demanding as City.
He scored important goals, adapted to the team's style and always showed great commitment.
What more could you ask for in a first season?
He has laid the foundations to continue growing with the same humility that has been seen up to now.
Does Alvarez remind you of a younger version of yourself at all?
As strikers we have different styles but in terms of commitment, competitiveness and the desire to win, I think we are the same.
It is confirmed Lionel Messi will leave PSG, are you surprised it hasn’t worked out after leaving Barcelona?
Leo's time at PSG has been very relevant. Let's see but his statistics in this last season.
Counting the five major leagues, including the Champions League, there are only two players who have passed 20 goals and 20 assists.
One is Leo and the other is Vinicius. He was also the top assistant in Ligue 1 with 16 goal passes.
In addition, in his two seasons he won two leagues and a French Super Cup.
Although not all are numbers.
What Leo imposes on the field goes far beyond statistics.
I think you must put his time at PSG in the right place.
Is it disappointing it looks like he is leaving Europe?
I always say that where Leo chooses to play and where he is happy is the best place.
At this point, Leo has nothing to prove and his best prize will be enjoying his last years in professional football to the fullest.
He deserves it more than anyone.
Lautauro Martinez is likely to play a huge part in the UCL final, how well would he cope in the Premier League?
A forward of the stature of Lautaro can play in the best leagues in the world.
And of course he would do very well in the Premier.
He has talent and goal scoring ability and I think he would adapt very well to the English league.
Manuel Ugarte has been linked with some big clubs this summer, what sort of player is he and what would clubs be getting with him?
From what I've read, he has everything agreed with PSG.
He is a great promise who has shown at Sporting to be very important as a midfielder.
He will have to adapt to a very physical game like the French one but he has everything to continue his evolution.
Mateo Kovacic seems close to joining Man City. Are you surprised he is joining?
I wouldn't be surprised. We know that Kovacic is a midfielder with very good ball handling, very much like City.
He has gone through Real Madrid, Chelsea and experience also counts.
Does his arrival help with the impending departure of Ilkay Gundogan?
We will have to see what Ilkay decides, he has been key at City and in the last two seasons in particular.
I would love for him to continue at the club, although I respect the final decision he makes.
He is a great professional and a better person.
Joao Felix is returning to your former club Atletico Madrid, are Chelsea making a mistake not keeping him?
He arrived at Chelsea at a difficult time for the club, and now he returns to Atleti.
It will be necessary to see which is finally his destination, if he stays or goes to another club.
Emiliano Martinez will be playing Europa Conference League football with Aston Villa. Is he good enough to make it at a Champions League side?
Of course. For one, he was chosen the best goalkeeper in the World Cup.
And he has had outstanding performances at Aston Villa.
Dibu is very special and has great conditions. I have no doubt that he is qualified.
Roberto Firmino is reportedly closing in on a move to Barcelona after leaving Liverpool on a free transfer. Just how good of a player will Barca be getting?
We will have to see if he finally signs for Barca. He has a game that could fit very well into Xavi's style.