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Media Watch: City in De Jong transfer tug-of-war?

YOUNG TALENT: Ajax and Holland midfielder Frenkie De Jong

YOUNG TALENT: Ajax and Holland midfielder Frenkie De Jong

A rumoured transfer tug-of-war and the secrets of Aro Muric’s Carabao Cup penalty heroics dominate Thursday’s media round-up.

We kick-off with claims that City could be locked in a £70m battle with Bayern Munich in a bid to acquire the services of much-admired Ajax midfielder Frankie De Jong. 

The Blues have been repeatedly linked with the young Dutch star for several months now.

And according to the Daily Mail, City could now be vying with German giants Bayern Munich in a battle to secure his services.

Jack Gaughan writes: “Pep Guardiola has ruled out making any signings next month but a central midfielder is at the top of his agenda for next summer.

“The City manager is a huge admirer of De Jong, whose classy displays for Ajax and Holland have drawn attention from a host of the continent's elite.

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“Bayern are the latest to register interest in the 21-year-old, who wants to see out the season at Ajax.

“Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars suggested on Wednesday Barcelona are favourites to land him and De Jong is known to possess a desire to one day play in Spain.

“It is believed, however, that the Catalans are more focused on their attempts to sign his team-mate Matthijs de Ligt, the teenage central defender.

“Paris Saint-Germain were claimed to have been close to striking a deal for De Jong but Guardiola believes City remain right in the mix to land him.

“De Jong's versatility is a key reason for City's interest and, while he is viewed as an eventual successor to Fernandinho, sources have maintained he could be deployed anywhere in a midfield three.”

Onto the domestic front, last night’s Carabao Cup semi-final draw pitted City against League One minnows Burton Albion.

ORANGE CRUSH: Sergio Aguero and Kyle Walker hail  'keeper Aro Muric

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The Blues largely owed their place in the last four to the heroics of young goalkeeper Aro Muric who saved two penalties in our 3-1 shoot-out win at Leicester on Tuesday.

And the Manchester Evening News carry an interview with Muric in which he reveals the inspiration behind his starring role at the King Power Stadium.

Stuart Brennan reports: “Muric revealed that he had picked up a few tips of the trade from Claudio Bravo, who is a master of the penalty shoot-out, not least by studying the way he conducted himself at the King Power last season.

“He made use of his hulking frame to intimidate the penalty takers and try to make the goals look smaller.

“Muric told MEN Sport: “It’s about personality, with Claudio. Players have respect for him and he has confidence.

“He is very good at penalties so I have been learning. I used some of his teaching – like walking forwards, to try to make the player a bit nervous.

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“I was trying to get them to focus on me, and it seemed to work.

“I gave my best. I was nervous and can do a lot better but I had worked a lot with my goalkeeper coaches and the great keepers I train with.

“It gives me a lot of confidence. The first one, I nearly got there, but I knew I had to make saves for us to go through.

“It was my first shoot-out in the first team, but I have had them in the junior teams, one against Rotherham. I have had three and lost one.”

Staying with the MEN and Simon Bajkowski carries a story detailing how Pep Guardiola has ben hugely impressed by another of City’s young starlets – Philippe Sandler.

The Dutch central defender joined City in the summer but saw his first few months at the Club stalled by injury.

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Now he is fit and back in action and has already caught the manager’s eye.

Bajkowski scribes: “Philippe Sandler impressed Pep Guardiola with his performances and attitude playing for the reserves.

“City paid £2.3m to sign the 21-year-old in summer and planned to make a decision on the United States tour to see whether he would be better staying in the squad or going out on loan.

“But the Dutch centre-back was sidelined for the first few months of the year, delaying his introduction to the first team.

“Guardiola is still making his mind up but was impressed enough with how Sandler handled himself playing for the EDS to include him in the matchday squad for the Carabao Cup quarter-final at Leicester.

"We planned to take him on pre-season with us but unfortunately he came injured," he said.

"He started to train in the last few months and I have to say when he came to play with the second team he played awesome.

"It is not easy when you are in the first team going to the second team but he helped his teammates and that counts [for] a lot.

"We are going to decide what is the best for him, for the club and his perspective in the future."

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It was another memorable Carabao Cup night for Manchester City on Tuesday. Club journalist Rob Pollard has taken a look back at the shoot-out win over Leicester.

A look back at our Carabao Cup quarter-final win at Leicester