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Saints' boss expecting 'strong' City challenge

FACE OFF: Pep Guardiola comes up against Claude Puel again on Saturday.

FACE OFF: Pep Guardiola comes up against Claude Puel again on Saturday.

Transfer rumours are packing twice the punch in this morning’s Manchester City media round-up, while attentions have already turned to the weekend’s game at Southampton.

Saints’ boss Claude Puel has spoken ahead of Saturday’s late kick-off, but we start with a double dose of gossip from the newspapers, which begins with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Borussia Dortmund striker’s future is much talked about and the 27-year-old is back in the headlines following an interview with Dortmund CEO, Hans-Joachim Watze.

The Telegraph carry the quotes in James Ducker’s piece, who writes: “Manchester City could be facing a losing battle in their bid to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this summer with Borussia Dortmund’s chief executive claiming the Gabon striker is only interested in a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona if he leaves the German club.

“Aubameyang is contracted to Dortmund until June 2020 but the club are expected to cash in on the £70 million rated forward during the close season if a huge offer comes in.

“The 27-year-old is one of Pep Guardiola’s targets as the City manager prepares for a huge overhaul of his playing squad this summer.”

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To the other end of the pitch now and in the second of today’s rumours, the Blues are linked with a young left back.

Barcelona defender, Marc Cucurella, is a summer target according to reports in the Mirror.

“Left-sided defender Cucurella, 18, has yet to sign a new contract with the reigning La Liga champions, with his current deal due to expire at the end of the season,” writes John Cross.

“The Mancunian Blues have received excellent scouting reports and manager Pep Guardiola and director of football Txiki Begiristain, both Barca old boys, are well aware of his potential.

“The Mancunian Blues have one of the best academy set-ups in Europe and with their Barca connections and reputation may be able to tempt him if he does leave the Nou Camp.”

Meanwhile, with Southampton set to welcome City to St Mary’s in four days’ time, manager Claude Puel has spoken of his side’s confidence following two consecutive victories.

"We know the next game against Manchester City is a strong challenge, a great team, but it's better to play against Manchester City after two wins, as it gives us confidence," he said.

"We play at home and, with the support of the fans, we can do fantastic work against them."

That’s it for today, Blues, but we’ll be back again tomorrow with more of the same.

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