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L'Equipe: Man City interested in Monaco star Lemar

RISING STAR: Thomas Lemar

RISING STAR: Thomas Lemar

With City’s Champions League Round of 16 clash with AS Monaco now less than a week away, it is interesting that one of the French side’s stellar talents is being linked with the Blues.

The speculation, of course, comes from the media – and in this case, one of France’s most respected sources runs the story, L’Equipe.

Via ESPN, the story suggests City are monitoring Thomas Lemar – along with Chelsea – with the pacey forward attracting a lot of attention this season.

The story reads: “Manchester City have made their move to bring Monaco sensation Thomas Lemar to the Etihad, but L'Equipe says that Chelsea are also keen on the 21-year-old.

“The report also suggests Atletico Madrid will join the chase if Antoine Griezmann heads to Man United this summer as many expect.

“Ligue 1 leaders Monaco would command at least £30 million for their latest super talent, who has scored 10 goals and assisted seven more in all competitions.

“Lemar's pace and quick feet would follow a similar pattern in Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola's signings, though Chelsea's Antonio Conte is also desperate to bring more dynamism to his attacking trident.”

Regardless of the stories, City fans should get a close look at Lemar next Tuesday and could be forgiven for hoping the youngster has a quiet evening!

Staying with ESPN, Paulo Dybala is another alleged target for the Blues – but the Argentina international looks set to commit his future to Juventus.

The report reads: “Dybala insists he is happy at Juventus, so he will knock back interest from Manchester City and Real Madrid to commit his future to the Old Lady.

“The Argentine has just two years remaining on his current contract, which reportedly has a £38m buyout clause, but now the 23-year-old is ready to pen a new deal.”

Sportskeeda have picked up on comments made by Xavi on Fox Latin America suggesting that his former Barca boss will target Jack Wilshere in the summer.

It’s an ongoing press story, based on Pep’s admiration of the England midfielder.

The report says: “Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez says former club manager Pep Guardiola could make a move for Arsenal midfielder Wilshere in the summer. These hints come days after Pep praised the Englishman as ‘one of the best midfielders’ in the country.

“Xavi's reason for the link is Wilshere's performance against Barcelona back in 2011 in the UEFA Champions League when the Gunners beat the Catalans in a dramatic 2-1 encounter at the Emirates Stadium.

PEP: Xavi and Robben speak of former boss

‘I know Pep has always had a lot of respect for Wilshere - he impressed so many of the Barcelona team when we played Arsenal in 2011,’ Xavi told Fox Latin America.

‘We have talked about him; it was not a performance you forget easily. Technically he is the sort of player that Pep loves - his only problem has been injuries - and if it wasn't for the issues he has had with injuries I am sure he would be one of the best midfield players in the world.

‘At the moment he seems to be doing well with his fitness and, if there is a chance to sign him in the summer, I am sure Pep will give it real consideration.’

Staying with former Pep employees and one of the chief architects of Arsenal’s 5-1 drubbing against Bayern Munich last night says he is convinced his former coach will flourish in English football.

Arjen Robben, who knows the Premier League well from his days with Chelsea, told The Independent: ‘I'm not worried about him at all. I know his philosophy. I know the way he thinks about football and I also know the Premier League, as I've played there for three years, so I know, with all the teams that are in it, it's very, very difficult.

‘Every game is a new battle but what I can see -- I haven't seen a lot because it's difficult to see a lot of games because we're playing all the time -- but the thing I have seen a little bit, you can already see his handwriting, you know and that's for me something that is very positive.

‘You don't [generally] see that so quickly that you can see the handwriting of the coach and the way they are playing, in my opinion, is I don't know better but maybe more attractive than it was before and that's what I say.

‘He loves the game, he loves football, he loves attacking football. He wants to have the ball, he wants to play and to me, for players, it's also the best. You want to play football. So, yeah, for me, no negative word about it because I loved working with him for the last three years.’

Finally, The Huddersfield Examiner suggest Saturday’s FA Cup tie with City will set a new record at the Terriers’ home ground.

In what has all the makings of a classic cup tie, they write: “Huddersfield Town will be backed by a new stadium record football crowd in the FA Cup against Manchester City.

“All tickets have now sold out for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off, meaning a gate of 24,000-plus – surpassing the previous football best for the FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool in 1999 which attracted 23,678.

“And the stadium all-time record of 24,126, for the Great Britain v Australia rugby league international in November 2003, could also be blown out of the water.

“All the general seats have been sold for the visit of Pep Guardiola’s Premier League giants, and the only reason a proper crowd figure can’t be given is because of guest and scouting blocks still to be taken up.”

We’ll have plenty of build-up to the game today and tomorrow so stay tuned…

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