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This morning’s Media Watch is a packed edition!
Let’s start with the transfer gossip. James Ducker, writing in the Telegraph, says Manchester City officials are weighing up a summer move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri.
Ducker believes City’s scouts have done their homework and the 22-year-old has emerged as the top target to bolster our midfield options ahead of next season.
“Manchester City are ready to break their transfer record to sign Rodri, the highly-rated young Spain midfielder, from Atletico Madrid as Fernandinho’s long-term replacement,” Ducker writes.
“Atletico are unwilling to allow Rodri to leave for less than his 70 million euros (£60.6 million) release clause, which means City will have to narrowly eclipse their current record £60 million outlay on Riyad Mahrez to land the 22-year-old.
“City’s scouts and director of football, Txiki Begiristain, have watched Rodri extensively and have been busy laying the groundwork for a move in the hope of securing a deal before pre-season starts in early July. City have also closely followed the progress of Lyon’s France midfielder, Tanguy Ndombele, but Rodri - regarded as very intelligent on and off the field - remains the priority.”
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Adam Bate, writing for Sky Sports, says Raheem Sterling should win the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award.
Bate believes Sterling’s off-field behaviour, which has seen him become a role model to many youngsters around the country, is a contributing factor, but says his performance level and vital statistics set him apart.
“The 24-year-old England international has contributed goals and assists to Manchester City's historic quadruple bid but his season has been about so much more,” he writes. “This was the year in which Sterling transcended his sport by reminding everyone that it is more than a sport.
“Firstly, a diversion into the facts and figures that should illustrate that this is no sentimental choice to rival the Sports Personality of the Year award given to Ryan Giggs in 2009. Sterling has 17 Premier League goals, as many as his England captain Harry Kane, and nine assists. He is the only player in the competition to rank among the top five in both categories.
“Leroy Sane is like lightning. Riyad Mahrez is Manchester City's record signing. But there is little rotation for Sterling now. He has emerged as an indispensable figure in a team that could yet become the first team this decade to retain the Premier League trophy and the first team in the history of English football to complete the domestic treble.”
The Mail’s Ian Herbert has penned a superb assessment of this season’s race for the Premier League title, which he feels is the greatest we’ve ever seen.
“So here comes the moment of truth,” Herbert writes. “We are about to discover whether there is the remotest chink of vulnerability about either of the two gladiators who have traded punches in the title race.
“Top spot has changed hands 27 times, more than in any top flight campaign since the Second World War. Liverpool and Manchester City have dominated, with Chelsea the only other club to head the table, twice in August and for a week in September.
“Liverpool are on course for a haul of 97 points — a tally which would have won them the Premier League title in every season but the last one — and to lose only one top-flight game for the first time in their 127-year history. But if they are to end their 29-year quest to become champions again, the time has come for one of Manchester City’s remaining opponents to deny them a victory.
"Liverpool’s only real hope resides with their old foes, Manchester United, capitalising on the fervour of an Old Trafford derby on Wednesday.
“If United can halt the City juggernaut, Liverpool would assume a commanding position with three games to play. If City win, it is hard to see beyond them seeing out the three victories they require.
“British football has known nothing like this. So, how can we explain the greatest title fight in the game’s history?”
That’s all for this morning’s roundup of the back pages. Stay with us throughout the day, though, as we bring you full coverage of Pep Guardiola’s pre-Manchester Derby press conference.
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