Transfer gossip, pre-match predictions and an early Manchester derby warning all feature in your Monday media round-up…
Rumours continue to fly around in the midst of the January transfer window, while attentions turn to Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg clash at Bristol City and our title rivals attempt to crank up the pressure.
An article reads: “City were one of a number of English clubs who watched Soumare play for the Ligue 1 side against Rennes last week.
“Lille value the Frenchman at £35m, with the club needing to raise funds this month to comply with financial fair play rules.
“Sky Sports News understands they would prefer to do a deal this month and keep Soumare, who has made 10 appearances for Lille this season, on loan until the summer.
“Soumare is one of the brightest prospects in French football and has been described as ‘the new Yaya Toure.’
“Toure's contract is up at the end of the season after he signed a new one-year deal last summer.
“Soumare came through Paris Saint-Germain's academy and joined Lille looking for first-team opportunities in 2017.
“He has also represented his country at youth level since making his debut in the Under-16 squad in 2014.”
Elsewhere, Sports Mole claim City are also keen on signing another forward.
Writes Mark Langshaw: “Manchester City are allegedly planning to table a bid for Real Madrid forward Marco Asensio after missing out on the services of Manchester United-bound Alexis Sanchez.
“According to Spanish outlet Don Balon, Los Blancos are willing to listen to offers of around £88m for the 22-year-old.
“Asensio, who was previously linked with United, is one of the most highly-rated young strikers in Europe, and City manager Pep Guardiola reportedly sees the Spain international as a viable alternative to Sanchez.
“Real boss Zinedine Zidane is reportedly planning to overhaul his team following a disappointing La Liga title defence, and could allow Asensio to leave ahead of a summer shake-up.”
Meanwhile, Sky Sports presenter Michelle Owen has shared her thoughts on the Blues’ midweek trip to Ashton Gate, asserting ‘anything is possible’ for Bristol City.
Quoted in her column for the Bristol Post, she states: “Ahead of Bristol City's visit to the Etihad in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final, I spoke to fans outside Ashton Gate before they made the journey- the message was to keep it tight.
“That is exactly what Lee Johnson's men did while still playing their own style of football.
“The high press resulted in the opening goal, but it also led to Manchester City's equaliser. The late winner from Sergio Aguero was a bitter blow on the night, but a one-goal deficit to overturn is far from an impossible task, even against such elite opposition.
“Although Pep Guardiola would have been clued up on Bristol City before, after the first leg he inevitably gained more insight into the Robins style of play.
“Lee Johnson and his coaching staff are going to have to be at their smartest to outwit the Spaniard.
“Injuries have blighted the Bristol City squad, and it was a concern to see Nathan Baker injured after he rolled his ankle.
“Hopefully, that is nothing too serious, but if it is you would expect Bailey Wright to come in next to Aden Flint which leaves the right back position vacant.
“It may mean Korey Smith has to slot in, or perhaps Hordur Magnusson could switch to that side and Joe Bryan revert to left back. Fingers crossed Baker does make it back for Tuesday evening as I think Joe Bryan is a fantastic option at left wing, especially while Callum O'Dowda is sidelined.
“The away goals rule is a complex equation in the league cup, essentially Bristol City could just score one and go through, but they would need to last 120 minutes to make that happen!
“No one should doubt the Robins too much, just remember how special that December night was in BS3 as they overcame one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“This is a team that can score goals, and defend well.
“On Tuesday night, anything is possible.”
Finally, United defender Chris Smalling has issued a warning to City, insisting his side are ready to pounce should the Blues slip up in the title race.
The centre-back added he hopes our lead atop the Premier League will have been cut significantly before the Manchester derby to ensure a ‘nervous’ affair.
As ESPN report, Smalling declared: "If we can be in with a shout at that time of the season that's when nerves can creep in so hopefully those last few games we're there or thereabouts.
"I think we have all been there where league title hopes have been dwindled and people have been caught but we can only focus on ourselves.
"There is a big points gap at the minute and we just need to make sure we win our games because if we don't there's no point even at all."