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Mail: City linked with Betis defender

With the January transfer window well and truly open, rumours are flying around all over the place...

First up City have been linked with a Cristiano in La Liga - no, not that one - with Real Betis' Piccini the man in question.

The Daily Mail report: "The 23-year-old, who hails from Florence in Italy, has caught the eye of City scouts and those of Everton playing in Spain as they weigh up cover for the right-back position.

"Everton, who also like Sam Byram at Leeds, want cover for Seamus Coleman who has been the subject of enquiries from the likes of PSG in the past few months.

"City may lose Pablo Zabaleta in the summer with Inter Milan among those keen on the combative Argentine."

More on that Zabaleta line here by the way.

Secondly City have been bundled in with a clutch of clubs reportedly monitoring a young French winger making waves in Ligue 1 this season.

Ed Aarons of The Guardian writes: "Lille’s Sofiane Boufal is a transfer target for Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City, although the winger is unlikely to be allowed to leave in the January window.

"The 22-year-old, who has scored five goals in Ligue 1 so far this season, has been heavily scouted by several clubs in England, Spain and Italy over the last few months after his impressive displays for the French side. However, with Lille currently struggling in mid-table, it is expected that they will resist any offers to sell their prized asset this month despite ongoing financial difficulties at the club.

"Boufal, who was signed from newly-promoted Angers last January for an undisclosed fee believed to be around €4m, is now valued at around €25m (£18.3m) by Lille. Although sources close to the player insists he is “99% certain” to stay in France this month, the club are understood to be willing to cash in at the end of the season."

Back to last night's action, then, and it was more away day woe for City at Goodison Park as City reached the halfway point of their Capital One Cup semi-final clash trailing 2-1.

Manuel Pellegrini's side did manage an away goal though, and another impressive performance from City defender Nicolas Otamendi was noted by the Daily Telegraph's Pete Oliver in his 'five things learned' piece.

He wrote: "Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala have had a run of games and are building a partnership.

"Mangala still looks vulnerable at times but Otamendi is becoming the defensive leader City have lacked without Kompany.

"The pair had just one striker to deal with against Everton in the shape of Lukaku but he is still a handful.

"Otamendi produced one excellent block to deny Lukaku after half an hour and was also a threat at the other end from set-pieces."

There was a whiff of controversy about the result at Goodison, with City boss Pellegrini unhappy with a couple of decisions according to the Sun's match report.

Charlie Wyett reflected: "Ramiro Funes Mori had given Everton a controversial lead, with City boss Manuel Pellegrini feeling it was offside. He also said his team should have had a penalty for a Kevin Mirallas challenge on Navas.

"But the Toffees showed huge character to bounce back after Sergio Aguero and Navas sliced through their defence. Muhamed Besic and Gareth Barry were impressive in the middle while, in flashes, Ross Barkley showed why he is a target of so many clubs, including City.

"Afterwards, Martinez claimed Barry was one of England’s finest ever players and while that is certainly pushing it, he was influential — and needs another big performance in the second leg."

And finally, there was more praise for ex-City man Barry in the Daily Mirror's report, which described the game as a 'personal triumph' for the veteran midfielder.

"They flocked to Goodison to marvel at what Roberto Martinez described as 'most talented group of young players in Europe' - and ended up saluting an old boy who'll turn 35 next month," the report reads.

"Gareth Barry left Manchester City for Everton two and a half years ago - initially on loan - and there had not been too much weeping, wailing or teeth-gnashing over his departure.

"But this Capital One Cup semi-final first leg was a personal triumph for Everton’s stand-in skipper - the general who masterminded victory and laid on the 78th-minute winner for Romelu Lukaku to put Martinez's men in pole position for a place at Wembley."

Pole position, but not past the checkered flag yet! That's it for today's media wrap, we'll be back for more speculation and gossip tomorrow...

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Pellegrini: Two decisions turned the game

Match Report

Everton v City: Match report

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City trail 2-1 at the halfway stage of the Capital One Cup semi-final after narrowly losing the first leg at Goodison Park.

Match Report

Blues edged out by Toffees


City trail 2-1 at the halfway stage of the Capital One Cup semi-final after narrowly losing the first leg at Goodison Park.