Kane to Man City? Conte faces fight to keep Spurs striker; Barca's Xavi lays down the law

Julien Laurens explains why Man City should not wait until summer to find a new forward. (1:22).
Antonio Conte could be in a tough fight to keep Harry Kane out of Manchester City. ESPN's Insider Notebook has all the latest. PLUS: How Xavi is already making a mark in Barcelona.

Sterling exit blocked

Man City's renewed interest in Kane

Sources tell ESPN that Manchester City is ready to make a bid for Harry Kane during the January transfer window. This could be Antonio Conte’s first major battle since becoming Tottenham Hotspur's boss.

City are still looking for a striker after missing out on Kane last summer. England captain said he was looking for a new challenge away from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. However, he only promised his immediate future to Spurs at the close of the window.

This season, he has been unable to score in the Premier League. Tottenham fans have expressed frustration at the 28 year-old Tottenham player, especially during the poor performance against Manchester United.

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Although there was some hope that it would lead to Daniel Levy, chairman of the board, to relax his stance in January's window, this was before Conte replaced Nuno Espirito Sante with Conte. Sources claim Kane is pleased with the appointment. The former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss has a track record in winning silverware in Italy and England -- something Kane said in the summer.

City would be open to testing Spurs' determination to keep Kane, if they were encouraged to make a deal. Kane has a contract with Tottenham through 2024, and Levy has always valued the forward at over PS150 million -- a price City are not willing to pay.

ESPN reported that Conte received assurances prior to his appointment as manager that Kane would be included in his future plans. One source says that Levy could be forced to reconsider his offer because of how badly the club has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. However, Spurs privately insist on keeping Kane at the least until the end. The relationship between Kane and Conte will play a key role in this situation.

Manchester City is also interested in Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haland. There are strong interest from many European top sides including Real Madrid and United. Rob Dawson and James Olley

Manchester City's Harry Kane is still a target. Julian Finney/Getty Images

Barcelona: Xavi lays down law

Sources tell ESPN that Xavi Hernandez, the new coach of Barcelona has imposed a set of rules to help the club regain their form on the pitch.

Xavi, 41 years old, succeeded Ronald Koeman as Barca's coach. He stated at Monday's presentation that he would "restore Order" at the club which is currently ninth in LaLiga.

Sources said that Xavi has reintroduced a fines system that was not used since Ernesto Valverde replaced Luis Enrique. If players break any of these guidelines, they will be subject to financial penalties. Repeat offenders will have to pay even more.

Finale of ESPN's Battle of the Leagues

Xavi views Barcelona's fragility.

To allow players to prepare properly for the sessions, and if necessary to have individual talks with coaches, they must arrive at least 90 minutes before the training session begins. Barca's squad will be required to eat on the training grounds once more, a habit that has been lost in recent seasons. Xavi also established a midnight curfew for the 48 hours before a match. He will also review players' commitments off the pitch. This will include preventing them participating in any activity that could cause injury, such as riding an electric scooter or surfing.

Gerard Pique, the defender, has had to cancel his appearance next week on a Spanish late-night talk show. Pique was due to talk about the Davis Cup which he organizes, on El Hormiguero. -- Sam Marsden, Moises Llorens

play 1:03 What can Xavi Do to prevent another Barca collapse? Stewart Robson explains how Xavi can make Barcelona win in LaLiga.

City blocks Sterling exit in January

Sources told ESPN that Manchester City will not accept any offer from Barcelona to sign Raheem sterling in January. Sterling has been linked to the Spanish giants, but he said that he is open to moving abroad if he can't find regular football at Etihad Stadium.

Sources told ESPN however that City won't consider any offer for the 26 year-old, either on permanent or loan basis, during January because he is still a key member of Pep Guardiola’s team.

Sterling has put off contract negotiations with City until he feels certain he will continue to play an important role for the club in future. His existing deal expires in 2023. Guardiola's England winger, who has been in and around Guardiola's squad this season, is reluctant to sign a long-term contract.

City will have to decide if new terms can be reached by next summer.

Former Liverpool man, who won three Premier League titles at Etihad Stadium, would be available in 2023 as a free agent. He would still only be 28 years old. Rob Dawson

Play 0:47 Guardiola says Xavi will manage Barcelona. Guardiola insists that Xavi can manage Barcelona. Guardiola also speaks out about his 200th Premier League match.

Pep rocket wins the destruction of City's derby over United

Sources tell ESPN that Manchester City's dominating derby performance against Manchester United was inspired in part by Pep Guardiola's dressing down following three days of Champions League victory over Club Brugge.

City won Old Trafford 2-0. United were limited to four touches in the penalty area and one shot on target. Guardiola vented frustrations during and after the victory over Brugge, but this performance was only possible.

Guardiola rebuked the players at half-time of the Brugge match. Even though the hosts had won a comfortable 4-1 victory, sources tell ESPN that the City boss was not pleased with the outcome. He told the team after the final whistle that he had had enough and walked out of the stunned dressing room.

Guardiola was not at his best during the postmatch media requirements. He gave a series spooky interviews to journalists and broadcasters.

It received the desired response. Sources told ESPN that Guardiola's coaching staff was delighted with the intensity of training leading up to the trip to Old Trafford. They also enjoyed the controlled performance against United, which saw City move up to second place in the Premier League table, three behind leaders Chelsea. Rob Dawson

Play 0:57 Nicol labels Man City's derby victory'men against men' Steve Nicol claims Manchester United are not at the same level as their rivals. Manchester City cruises to victory.

Howe Newcastle's search for a boss was a disaster

Sources told ESPN that Newcastle's long-running managerial search was confusing and left many candidates confused by the club's inability to clarify their future plans.

Eddie Howe, a former boss of Burnley and Bournemouth, was finally appointed on Tuesday. This ended a three-week-long process that saw many people interviewed and the job offered to Unai Eery.

Sources close enough to multiple candidates claimed that there were competing voices in Newcastle's hierarchy about how to transform the club, which was facing relegation. This led to delays in the identification of a clear first choice, with Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi as directors, with Jamie Reuben as a third director. Jamie is also one other prominent voice in discussions.

- Who are the players that Howe could target in January?

ESPN has also been told by sources that senior officials at Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund sought out advice from Citibank regarding who to target for various executive positions, including director of football and first-team manager.

Partly, Emery's decision not to leave Villarreal was based on mixed messages about how to move the club forward. Howe will be responsible for delivering a clear vision to the boardroom and pitch. James Olley

play 1:19 How involved is Howe with Newcastle's transformation Juls and Gab debate whether Eddie Howe should participate in Newcastle's search to a director.

Manager won't apologize for touchingline clashes with his own player

After being disciplined for an altercation on the touchline with one of his players, a manager in Spanish football's third division refused to apologize.

During last Sunday's 2-1 defeat at home to DUX Internacional Madrid, Manuel Mosquera was sent to the stands as Extremadura UD's coach. As he waited for Musa Drammeh to arrive in the 90th minute, the 53-year old reacted angrily.

According to the referee's report, Mosquera "squared up" to one of his bench players and said, "Go and find another team." He then grabbed him by the shirt, shaking him and was eventually pulled away from the coaching staff. Mosquera refused to apologize for his actions at a postmatch press conference. He said that he didn't regret them.

He said, "I didn’t like his attitude." He said, "I didn’t insult him but I was aggressive towards him... He's only 19 years old, but that doesn't mean you can't get out on the pitch like that. Although the referee claimed he heard an injination, it wasn't me. "Why would I insult my player?"

Mosquera continued, "He looked like someone who didn't want play." Mosquera continued, "He put on his tracksuit and took it off like a tortoise." Sometimes, things must be said. It wouldn't be possible for me to be any other. If you act like you don’t want to play, you will be called out. Maybe I was more aggressive than usual... but I did what I needed to do."

Extremadura, which is in the relegation area in group one of Primera RFEF's Primera RFEF Group 1, did not respond to a request by ESPN for comment.

The club has been plagued with off-the-field problems in recent months. Players' wages have gone unpaid and the club was raided Wednesday by Spanish tax inspectors and police over claims of social security fraud. Alex Kirkland