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Telegraph: Man City would have turned to Conte

TEST: Conte says City will give his side's title credentials a thorough examination

TEST: Conte says City will give his side's title credentials a thorough examination

Manchester City take on Chelsea today in a top-of-the-table clash at the Etihad Stadium and, unsurprisingly, it’s a game that dominates the media this morning.

Let’s start with Matt Law’s claims in the Telegraph that City would have made a move for Antonio Conte had they failed to land Pep Guardiola this summer. 

Conte took over at Stamford Bridge this summer after guiding the Italian national team to the quarter-finals of the European Championships and has made a great start to life in England, with Chelsea currently top of the Premier League after 13 games. 

Law says Guardiola was always City’s first choice but claims they would have turned to Conte had talks with the Catalan stalled. 

“It is one of the worst-kept secrets in football that Roman Abramovich long held a desire that, at times, bordered on obsession to take Pep Guardiola to Chelsea,” Law writes. 

“But what is less commonly known is that Manchester City would have moved for Antonio Conte had Guardiola opted to stay at Bayern Munich or finally given in to the overtures of Abramovich, the Chelsea owner.

“In the end, City did not pursue their interest in Conte after the Guardiola guessing game ended in February when he was confirmed as Manuel Pellegrini’s successor.

“The early announcement also allowed Abramovich to let go of any false hope, however faint, he may have still harboured of bringing in Guardiola and forced him to work on the appointment of Conte.

“Whoever was first and second choice for either club, both men are hugely admired by their employers, their rivals and each other.”

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Meanwhile, Conte has heaped praise on the two strikers likely to settle today’s game at the Etihad. 

Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero have both been in fine form this season, each bagging 10 league goals already. 

And Conte has praised both, describing them as “great strikers”. 

“At the start of the season, the questions were all about Diego, about making sure his passion was used in the right way and whether I could help him do that," reports Darren Lewis at the Mirror

“I always replied that Diego is a fantastic striker and I was sure that, this season, he’d be focused to improve himself, to improve Chelsea. I think this is happening.

“Diego and Aguero are two fantastic players. Two great finishers. I think, also, they have different characteristics. They are two great strikers. They are very important: Diego for us, and Aguero for Manchester City. 

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And, finally, Sky Sports’ Ben Ransom’s believes City could be set to overtake Chelsea as England’s best exponents of youth development. 

Chelsea have often been cited as having the best academy in the country – but Ransom argues that City’s success last season suggests the balance of power could be shifting. 

“The young blues from London have been the dominant force in recent years - winning the FA Youth Cup in five out of the last seven seasons, as well as the UEFA Youth League in 2015 and 2016,” he writes. 

“But City's U18s took the national Premier League title in the summer - their first since opening the state-of-the-art City Football Academy in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium in 2014.

“Young striker Kelechi Iheanacho is leading by example in Pep Guardiola's team, and City hope there are many more academy graduates to come.

“Youth is at the heart of City's long-term plan for success, and the CFA was built to supply a production of talent to the first team. Academy director Mark Allen is the man overseeing it all.”

That’s all for today’s media roundup, Blues. Enjoy the game!

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