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Media Watch: Rivals wary of De Bruyne return?

KDBack: Sky Sports believe Kevin De Bruyne's return could prove significant boost for City's title credentials...

KDBack: Sky Sports believe Kevin De Bruyne's return could prove significant boost for City's title credentials...

With no weekend Premier League action for the Champions, the journalists and writers of the footballing world are forced to seek alternative topics to fill their pages.

That doesn’t mean today’s City-centric headlines are scarce – not by any stretch – but if previews for Monday night’s trip to Tottenham are what you seek, you shall have to wait a few more days…

Instead, today’s subjects include player analysis, a look ahead to tonight’s FA Women’s Super League clash against Reading and two tales of transfer gossip. Plenty to gratify your City news needs.

Let’s kick-off with Adam Bate’s Sky Sports examination of the potential impact Kevin De Bruyne’s return could herald in the Premier League title race.

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The Belgian returned to match action in Saturday’s 5-0 demolition of Burnley, and was named in the starting line-up for the midweek Champions League win at Shakhtar Donetsk – and Bate believes the playmaker’s comeback has tilted the odds ‘emphatically’ in City’s favour.

“The defending champs might be the best. De Bruyne makes them better,” he scribed.

“That is surely the fear for City's rivals. Nine times this season Guardiola has named a Premier League line-up that has not included his star man. Nine times this season City have got through the game unbeaten - seven wins and two draws.

"It is no great surprise given the options at the club's disposal but it still represents an opportunity missed for the rest.

“He started 36 of City's 38 Premier League games in winning the title, more than anyone else. Rotation is something that happens around him. When back up to speed, expect that to continue.

“De Bruyne provided the most assists, created the most chances and the most clear-cut chances of anyone in the Premier League last season. He is the man most likely to make things happen and, at 27, in the prime of his career.

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“Injuries are never ideal, particularly knee problems. But perhaps De Bruyne will even benefit from a delayed start to the season. After a hectic summer in which Belgium finished third at the World Cup in Russia, he can return mentally fresh and ready to go.

“De Bruyne is ahead of schedule having initially targeted next month's Manchester derby as the date for his return. The bad news for United is that he will be well into his stride by then.

“The bad news for every rival is that they needed a head start and instead City go into the game against Spurs at Wembley on Monday knowing a win will put them top once more.

“And knowing that Kevin De Bruyne is back.”

On the subject of Monday’s clash at Tottenham, Sky Sports also tasked their pundits with the assignment of choosing which of two City and Spurs stars they would prefer to boast in their team – David Silva or Christian Eriksen; Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane?

With the votes unanimous, the Blues duo emerged victorious.

Discussing his reasoning for El Mago’s selection (not that we need any convincing!), Charlie Nicholas explained: “[They are] two very talented players but Silva has just been brilliant since the day he walked into Manchester City – he's one of the finest we have ever seen in the Premier League.

“Eriksen's getting there but he's not quite at that level yet.”

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On Aguero, Paul Merson stated: “How hard is this? I have got to go for Aguero - his movement is slightly better than Kane's. Plus, he is one of those strikers that can score four or five in one game.”

Elsewhere, She Kicks preview tonight’s Friday Night Football special, as City look to build a winning run on the back of two impressive victories with another three points at home to Reading.

Nick Cushing’s side are unbeaten domestically this season and recorded high-scoring triumphs in our most recent outings – a 7-1 victory against West Ham, and a 6-0 thrashing at Brighton.

As the weekend’s first fixture, the Blues have the chance to issue a statement of intent for our title credentials.

Writes Wilf Frith: “Manchester City recorded a second successive six-goal margin of victory on Sunday, while Reading were on the wrong end of such a scoreline and another victory for the Cityzens on Friday will put them top of the league.”

Finally, our daily cast into the pond of transfer gossip has netted a couple of tales, as the Daily Mail believe City are monitoring Juventus defender Alex Sandro, while several outlets share the Mirror’s claim the Blues are aiming to recruit Groningen starlet Ritsu Doan.

On Sandro, Glen Williams declares: “City scouts travelled to rivals Manchester United to see the 27-year-old in action in the 1-0 Champions League win, according to The Sun.

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“With Juventus reportedly keeping tabs on Real Madrid left-back Marcelo, there could be scope for Sandro to move away, with his club valuing him at £50million, come January.

“Marcelo is said to be keen on a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin, which would in turn pave the way for Sandro to move to Manchester.

“Sandro is under contract at the Italian champions until 2020 and has progressed to become one of the most vaunted left backs in Europe following his move from Porto in 2015.”

As for the rumours regarding Doan, Shoot report: “The 20-year-old has shone at the Dutch club since making a temporary switch from Gamba Osaka last term.

“After a season-long loan which produced nine Eredivisie goals from midfield the transfer was made permanent in the summer.

“If the Etihad outfit were to move for the Japan international they could face competition from Juventus and Atletico Madrid who are also both keen.

“This season Doan, whose deal at Groningen runs until 2021, has scored once in nine matches.”

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