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Telegraph: City close in on Laporte?

With the transfer window closing in less than a week’s time, City are today linked with three major deals.

Top of the list and the story that leads many back pages is the reported pursuit of Aymeric Laporte, with The Telegraph leading the way.

James Ducker writes: “City are expected to complete a £57m deal for Laporte before the close of the transfer window next week after the Athletic Bilbao centre-half signalled his desire to join the Premier League leaders, 18 months after turning his back on a planned move to the club.

“City moved to activate the €65m (£57m) release clause in Laporte’s contract after deciding to renew their interest in the 23-year-old in the belief he represents a better long-term option than West Bromwich Albion’s Jonny Evans.

“Athletic have tried to persuade Laporte to stay until the summer but the defender has indicated he wishes to move to City now at the second time of asking, with Pep Guardiola determined to bolster his central defence this month.

“Given the complexities of Spanish buy-out clauses, City are rushing to ensure the deal is formally completed by next Wednesday’s transfer deadline. If Laporte joins, as anticipated, it will take Guardiola’s spending to almost £450 m in just under 20 months at City.”

Meanwhile, the press are enjoying the prospect of another Manchester tussle over a player – this time Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri – who has linked with the Blues throughout the current window.

The IB Times write: “It is believed that both United and City have made initial enquiries in signing Seri. He has a £35m ($50m) release clause in his contract with the Ligue 1 outfit.

“The two Premier League clubs are determined to secure his services in January as he is expected to leave before the end of this transfer window.”

Elsewhere, The Mirror suggest City also have an interest in one of Serie A’s most exciting talents – as do several other clubs - as they report: “Arsenal look set to miss out on Genoa wonder kid Pietro Pellegri with Juventus in pole position.

“The Gunners wanted the Genoa star but the Old Lady look favourites now with a first bid imminent, report Gazzetta dello Sport.

“The Italy Under-19 international will be the subject of a €30m (£26m) opening bid from the Bianconeri.

“While Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are also keen on the youngster.”

Finally, ESPN look ahead to next month’s Carabao Cup final and muse whether it could be Arsene Wenger’s last trophy as a manager, or Pep Guardiola’s first in England.

They write: “There are some good omens in Arsenal's favour, namely last season's FA Cup semi-final victory over Guardiola's City. Arsenal have also won on each of their past nine visits to Wembley, though they visit the stadium to face Tottenham in the North London derby on Feb. 10, so their impressive record might be out of the window by the time they go head-to-head with City.

 

PEP: Two wins in four games against Wenger for City

 

“But it will require more than history and statistics for Arsenal to knock City off their stride as they go in pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple this season. The loss of Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United has not prevented Arsenal from reaching a fourth domestic cup final in five seasons, but Wenger will need to sharpen his team's cutting edge if they are to threaten City at Wembley.

 “Wenger's best teams were all able to hit opponents quickly and destructively with blistering pace on the counterattack, but with Sanchez and Theo Walcott both sold this month, Arsenal are lacking players who boast the ability to hurt rivals with their speed.

“That is not an easy problem to rectify, but even if Wenger is able to do that, can Arsenal halt the attacking talents that City possess at the other end? Guardiola might have been unable to tempt Sanchez to City, but he still has Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva to turn to.

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