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Figo: City can beat Real Madrid

DYNAMIC DUO: Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane

DYNAMIC DUO: Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane

Former Real Madrid legend Luis Figo believes City can knock his old side out of the Champions League.

With the first leg of the semi-final just days away, expect the media frenzy to kick in for the Blues’ biggest European game since the 1970 Cup Winners’ Cup final.

While many pundits have been quick to write off the Blues’ chances, Figo says City deserve respect and could be a genuine threat to the La Liga giants.

The Express report: “Figo believes Manchester City's big-money stars may not have gelled like Real Madrid's Galacticos but they are still strong enough to upset his former club in the Champions League next week.

“The former world's most expensive player lit up the Bernabeu from 2000 to 2005, a period when the Spanish giants had also recruited Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Raul, David Beckham and Fabio Cannavaro to their glittering squad.

“As well as two La Liga titles, in 2002 Madrid lifted the Champions League, European Super Cup and World Club Championship - the sort of global supremacy City, for all the money they have spent, are still aspiring to.

“But while admitting it takes more than just money to achieve greatness, Figo still believes enough has been invested at the Etihad recently to make City slight favourites when they go face-to-face with his former club in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday.

‘It is not always easy to find so many top players that can play together at the same time in the same team,’ he said. ‘Manchester City are financially strong and have plenty of chances to buy the players they want but that is no assurance they will win trophies.

‘Nevertheless, money makes them a lot, lot stronger, of course, and they have a good, good chance of getting into the final.’”

Meanwhile The Independent carry an all-too familiar story regarding the annual PFA Team of the Year.

How Sergio Aguero is continually snubbed for the top honours in this country bemuses City fans but yet again, the current Premier League Golden Boot winner misses out on the PFA XI>

The article reads: “The PFA Team of the Year has been revealed - and there are a couple of high profile omissions in the line-up.

“Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil was nominated among the top six contenders for the prestigious Player of the Year prize, but the German has not made the final 11 after it was confirmed by the PFA.

“Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero was also left out of the list, despite his glut of Premier League goals in a season when he has struggled with injuries.”

To end Friday’s round-up, a couple of snippets of transfer gossip.

First off, Gulf News claim the Blues will pursue a La Liga defender who has been ruled out until August as they write: “City are going ahead with plans to make Aymeric Laporte one of Pep Guardiola’s first signings despite the Athletic Bilbao centre-half being ruled out until August with a broken leg and dislocated ankle.

“Guardiola has identified Laporte among the players he wants to bring in this summer - a list that also features Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund - and sees the 21-year-old as an upgrade on Martin Demichelis, who will leave on a free transfer, at a time when there are also concerns about Vincent Kompany’s recurring injury issues.”

Finally, a photograph has led to a story in the MEN that is a little tenuous.

Alleged target Ilkay Gundogan is the subject of the report that reads: “Gundogan has sparked fresh speculation that he is set to leave Borussia Dortmund, with Manchester City leading the chase for his signature.

“The midfielder is one of incoming manager Pep Guardiola’s top targets this summer, with Paul Pogba and Toni Kroos also in City’s sights.

“And Gundogan only intensified debate about his future when cutting a lonely figure following Borussia Dortmund’s German Cup semi-final win against Hertha Berlin on Wednesday.

“The 25-year-old was pictured walking towards the tunnel while many of his teammates congregated on the pitch following the 3-0 win.

“There are claims in Germany that City have tabled a £15.8m bid, but Dortmund are holding out for £19.7m.

“That should not prove insurmountable as negotiations progress, with City prepared to give Guardiola the funds to bring in the world’s top players this summer.”

More City gossip and rumours tomorrow...

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