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Media Watch

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​City draw up three-man midfield shortlist? ​

MEDIA WATCH: City are reportedly chasing midfield reinforcements

MEDIA WATCH: City are reportedly chasing midfield reinforcements

Today’s Media Watch is a bumper one, jam-packed with transfer gossip as the January window edges ever closer to opening.

And a modern-day great backs City to lift the Champions League.

Let’s start with an in-depth piece written by Martin Blackburn in the Sun.

He discusses City's transfer strategy over the past 12 months and hails the operation as "first-class". 

And with the Blues’ squad now in fine shape, he says only minor fine-tuning is needed in the coming months.

Blackburn believes a defensive-midfielder as backup to Fernandinho now the only priority, with Frenkie de Jong, Tanguy Ndombele and Ruben Neves all on City’s radar.

“Guardiola, director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief exec Ferran Soriano want two quality players for every position on the pitch," he writes. 

“So last season, Pep felt he was short of back up for Leroy Sane on the left-wing, but now Mahrez is an ideal alternative.

“This year he is after just ONE new face – assuming there are no major injuries – with a holding midfielder the only position currently on his wish-list.

“For players who are approaching the end of their careers, City generally want a clear succession plan in place.

“That’s why with Fernandinho now 33, their top priority is to find a player who can support the Brazilian next season and one day replace him.

“When City missed out on Jorginho to Chelsea, they were linked with a host of alternatives – but they chose to wait.

“The likes of Frenkie de Jong, Tanguy Ndombele and Ruben Neves are now all being scouted as City weigh up all options for the summer.”

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The Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones continues the De Jong theme in his piece entitled: Outlining Manchester City’s plan to improve their superteam.

"They will continue to look for value in new talent but only in positions that will genuinely enhance their XI. One of those being spoken of most regularly is Ajax's Frenkie de Jong—and that is an intriguing idea," he writes. 

"A post from Opta explains how no player in Europe's top five leagues carries the ball toward goal more frequently than De Jong and that he completes 85 per cent of his passes in the final third—behind only Mousa Dembele, Toni Kroos, N'Golo Kante, Borja Valero, Sergi Roberto and Julian Draxler.

"A trait that seems most fitting for City is that he has an ability to dribble out of defence that few others are able to match. He also has extreme assurance in his passing and has been touted as a good fit to replace Fernandinho.

"Scouts tell B/R that the link is one to take seriously, given his style of play and incredible confidence at the age of 21. However, they also insist there has to be caution when judging his statistics, given he is playing in the Eredivisie—a league in which it is easier to carry the ball long distances in central defensive positions.

"Furthermore, B/R sources insist any reports of a deal being close for him to move to the Etihad are premature. The interest is real, but the club are not close enough to a deal to conclude that he will be their long-term answer in the centre of the park.

"Manchester City are a team of our time, and Guardiola is showing that the work he did in Spain with Barcelona and in Germany with Bayern Munich can be transferred to the English game."And, finally, in an exclusive interview with David McDonnell in the Express, former Barcelona midfielder Xavi has heaped praise on Guardiola.

Xavi, currently plying his trade with Al Sadd in Qatar, says City will win the Champions League under the Catalan's guidance. 

“The next target will be the Champions League and under him I think they will do it," Xavi says. 

"He built something at Barcelona that will always be remembered in football history – he can do the same in Manchester.”

That’s all for this morning’s review of the back pages. Stay with us throughout today here on mancity.com as we continue the build up to Saturday’s game at West Ham.

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