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Gossip: City target Croatian?

Reports this morning suggest City are ready to move for Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic.

With numerous back pages suggesting a deal for long-time target Jorginho may be in doubt, the Blues are rumoured to be lining up Croatian Kovacic instead.

Sportskeeda write: “Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has turned his attention to Real Madrid outcast Mateo Kovacic after failing to strike a deal for Jorginho, the Mirror reports.

“The Premier League champions were close to finalizing a deal for Jorginho, but after failing to agree with Napoli over a fee, it seems like the opportunity has been presented to rivals Chelsea who are now in pole position to land the midfielder as Maurizio Sarri's first signing at Stamford Bridge.

“If reports are to be believed, Kovacic is the prime candidate in City's long list of alternatives for Jorginho after persistent rumours continue to circulate surrounding the Croatian's concern regarding the lack of playing time on offer at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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‘I would like to play more at Real Madrid because I love football and I love being on the pitch. I also know that it’s difficult to play as a starter at Madrid, especially because I was very young when I came here," Kovacic said.

‘I understand the situation, and that’s why I think it’s best if I go to another club, where I have the opportunity to play regularly as a starter. It’s an opportunity I think I can get and one I want right now. Every player is important at Real Madrid.

‘However, the problem is that for a young player, it’s difficult to have continuity, and without that continuity I’ll never be able to show my full potential,’ he added.

“As of now, Real have refused to comment on the midfielder's current situation but sources close to the Los Blancos believe that the club will not act against Kovacic's wishes if he decides to leave.”

Moving on and England’s heroic World Cup run ended in defeat to Croatia last night.

A goal in extra time was enough to give the Croats a 2-1 win in Moscow, but City’s trio of representatives couldn’t have given much more for the cause. With John Stones, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker all making sizeable contributions.

 

WALKER THIS WAY: Brave Kyle impressed England fans

 

One particular moment, when a wounded Walker climbed off the turf in agony to head the ball clear was picked up by talkSPORT.

They write: “Over the years, England have had many heroes put their bodies on the line for the Three Lions.

“Images of Paul Ince and Terry Butcher bloodied and bruised for the sake of their country have elevated them to icon status.

“And Kyle Walker may have just put himself in the pantheon of those legends.

“The Manchester City defender stopped a goal bound effort from Ivan Rakitic with a rather tender part of his midriff with England on the ropes in their World Cup semi-final.

“Rather than let it slow him down, he rose majestically to head away a dangerous cross just moments later, before having a well-deserved break.

“Needless to say, fans loved it and were more than happy to broadcast it on social media.”

Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Martin Law praised Sterling’s efforts in Russia, saying the City forward has more than proved his worth at international level.

He writes: “The dwindling glass half-empty crowd will tell you Raheem Sterling does not take his chances, they will point to his England goals record and complain his end product is not good enough. They will have cheered when he was replaced by Marcus Rashford in Moscow.

 

VALIANT EFFORT: Raheem Sterling

 

“But these are the people who stand on the edge of the dancefloor grumbling the music is rubbish, moaning the queue at the bar is too long and trying to poke fun at those enjoying themselves.

“They find it amusing to routinely give Sterling the lowest mark, when given the chance to rate the England players’ performances. But the joke has been on the joyless in Russia.

“By focusing solely on Sterling’s shortcomings, the bedroom critics deny themselves the thrill of appreciating his many strengths. His explosive pace, which rattled Croatia defenders Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, his willingness to run and defend for the team, his ability to pull wide on to either flank.”

Well worth a read.

Finally, our new arrival Riyad Mahrez has thanked Leicester City and their supporters for his time at the club.

Sky Sports report: “Mahrez has spoken of the "amazing memories" he will take from his time at Leicester in the wake of his £60m move to Manchester City.

“The 27-year-old completed his club-record transfer to the Etihad on Tuesday, but he was keen to pay tribute to his former club and their supporters.

 

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‘To all Leicester fans, we have made some amazing memories and history together,’ Algeria international Mahrez said on his Twitter account

‘Winning the Premiership [in 2015-16] against all odds was just something else and none of this would have been possible without your extraordinary support for me and the team.

‘I want to thank all of you for welcoming me to the club right from the start and continuing to give me the belief and encouragement to achieve what we have together.

‘I would also like to thank my teammates, staff and everyone at the club who have become a big part of my life in the last few years.’

That’s all for today, we’ll be back with more tomorrow.

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