Gary Neville claims he was told the reason Manchester City sold Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling to domestic rivals in the summer.
Both Arsenal and Chelsea benefited from City’s decision to sell two players who had played key roles in their dominance of the Premier League under Pep Guardiola in recent years.
While Arsenal currently head the table by five points thanks, in part, to the form of the Brazil international, Man City have hardly taken a backwards step themselves with Erling Haaland scoring goals at a record breaking pace.
The Norwegian star’s form has meant the contribution of fellow new arrival, Julian Alvarez, has gone somewhat under the radar.
After being promoted to the starting line-up after their shock defeat against Saudi Arabia, however, Alavarez has enhanced his reputation during Argentina’s run to the World Cup final.
The former River Plate forward is certain to play a key role for City over the rest of the domestic and European season and Neville claims the reason Jesus and Sterling were sold was to help create a natural path into Guardiola’s team.
‘I was told a year ago when City let Jesus and Sterling go – because I was quite surprised that City let both go at the same time – that this kid [Alvarez] was the reason,’Neville said via Sky Sports’ World Cup podcast.
‘Someone said that to me, that is quite close to City, that he was the reason and they didn’t want to block his path.’
At international level, Alvarez has formed a good understanding with Lionel Messi who has been blown away by his compatriots’ ability.
‘Nobody imagined Julian would have the participation and importance he has shown,’ Messi said. ‘The help he has given us has been absolutely spectacular.’
Messi added: ‘During the whole World Cup, but also on Tuesday, he was extraordinary. He ran everything.
‘He fought for everything – creating chances, fighting. For us, he was the surprising discovery, and he deserves everything that has happened to him because he is a lovely guy.’