Pep Guardiola must win the tug of war for Kyle Walker: Five things we learned as Manchester City beat Bayern Munich in Tokyo

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Kyle Walker Manchester City 2023-24
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Thomas Tuchel desperately wants to sign the England international, and the defender showed why in Wednesday's friendly between the two clubs

Manchester City maintained their perfect start to pre-season with a 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in Tokyo on Wednesday, with Aymeric Laporte netting a late winner.

Pep Guardiola's side were second best during the first half, but led at the break thanks to James McAtee, who was on hand to follow-up a shot from Julian Alvarez that had been well-saved by Yann Sommer.

Bayern looked to have earned a draw when Mathys Tel scored a tap-in from another rebound with just nine minutes remaining, but Laporte - who has been linked with a move away from the Etihad before the close of the summer transfer window - nicked it for City right at the death, when he turned in a cut-back from Phil Foden.

GOAL looks at what we learned during the clash at a sold-out Japan National Stadium...

  1. Rico Lewis has an important role to play

    Rico Lewis has an important role to play

    McAtee may have broken the deadlock in Tokyo, but the opener was all about fellow young gun Rico Lewis, who also had the far more impressive first half. The 18-year-old excelled in a fluid role that saw him sit in midfield alongside Mateo Kovacic when City were defending, while at the same time affording him the freedom to get forward when in possession. Indeed, it was Lewis who burst into the area before squaring the ball for Alvarez, whose shot was spilled by Sommer into the path of McAtee.

    With serious doubt surrounding the future of Kyle Walker, don't be surprised if the versatile Lewis sees plenty of game time this season, given he can also operate as a right-back. He made 14 Premier League appearances last season - but he could feature even more regularly in the coming campaign.

  2. Walker's enduring excellence

    On the eve of the game in Japan, Guardiola said of Walker, "He is incredibly important for us. He has specific qualities that are so difficult to find out wide. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Both clubs are in touch. We will fight for him like I'm sure Bayern will too."

    There's absolutely no doubt about that, because while the England international may have only played for 45 minutes, he rather effortlessly underlined why he's so highly rated. His famed pace was once again there for all to see as he repeatedly snuffed out any threats posed by Bayern's fast forwards, while Walker also played the pin-point pass from inside his own half that released Lewis into space in the build-up to McAtee's goal.

    Guardiola has admitted that he has no idea how the tug-of-war for Walker's services will finish, but he'll be praying that the defender remains on the City side. A player of the 33-year-old's quality and experience is truly invaluable to any squad.

  3. Ederson's incredible importance
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    Ederson's incredible importance

    Given City dominate possession in nearly every game they play, Ederson doesn't often have much to do in between the sticks. However, as he so memorably and crucially underlined in the Champions League final win over Inter, he usually steps up to the mark when called upon.

    The Brazilian did so again here, making a couple of big saves when Bayern were piling on the pressure in the first half. He also very nearly kept a clean sheet, denying Paul Wanner from close range with a wonderful reaction stop, only to see Tel took away the rebound.

    And City will need Ederson to maintain his level of excellence, given Stefan Ortega does not inspire anything like the same level of confidence. The German played all 90 minutes of City's previous pre-season fixture, against Yokohoma F. Marinos, and was arguably at fault for at least two goals.

    Consequently, one really would wonder what would happen to City's defence - and Guardiola's game plan - if, heaven forbid, Ederson were to be sidelined by an injury in between transfer windows. He really is one of the few irreplaceable players in the starting XI.

  4. Inter's interest in Sommer is strange

    Inter's precarious financial position means that they are forced to sell at least one key player every year, and Andre Onana was the man to be sacrificed this summer, which made sense of course, given he had arrived on a free transfer from Ajax at the start of the season, meaning his sale to Manchester United represented pure profit.

    However, that left the Nerazzurri needing a couple of goalkeepers, with veteran shot-stopper Samir Handanovic having also left San Siro during the current transfer window, and the ongoing attempt to fill one of those voids with Sommer has raised some eyebrows in Italy, given the Bayern Munich man is nowhere near the same level as Onana, particularly with the ball at his feet.

    Indeed, the Switzerland international was blessed to get away with an awful error just before the break, when he lost possession inside his own area after coming under pressure from Bernardo Silva. Sommer got away with it, but if any representatives of Inter were watching, the not-unusual lapse in concentration from the 34-year-old may have convinced them to redouble their efforts to also sign Anatoliy Trubin from Shakhtar Donetsk. After all, there's a reason why Bayern are willing to let Sommer go...

  5. Kovacic continues to impress
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    Kovacic continues to impress

    Chelsea backed themselves into a bit of a corner with last season's sustained spending spree, forcing them to offload a number of talented players this summer. But there are those that believe that a big club should never sell to a side of a similar stature, for fear of strengthening a rival.

    It's arguably already clear that Chelsea have made that mistake by gifting Mateo Kovacic to Manchester City. The Croatian has had his critics over the years, mainly because he's never quite lived up to the hype, but he looks absolutely perfect for Pep-ball.

    Having already impressed in his first appearance for City, against Yokohama, he once again looked right at home here, stationed in front of the back three, picking out passes under pressure and constantly pilfering possession.

    Kovacic may not play every week at the Etihad, but he is likely to prove one of this summer's bargain buys.