Media Watch

Media Watch: City ‘main bidder’ for Ajax starlet?

Media Watch: City ‘main bidder’ for Ajax starlet?
Wembley awaits once more…

City will face either Tottenham or Chelsea in the Carabao Cup Final next month, having defeated Burton Albion by an astonishing 10-0 aggregate scoreline in the semi-finals.

The Blues had of course, already set one foot in the Final, romping to a 9-0 lead in the first leg, and sealed progression with a triumph at the Pirelli Stadium, courtesy of a Sergio Aguero strike.

Pep Guardiola named a much-changed line-up - a mixture of youth and experience - as the holders sought to finish the job in style. It certainly wasn't the showcase of the first leg but the Blues recorded another win to continue our impressive run, and the youngsters earned deserved praise.

READ: City confirm Carabao Cup Final spot

WATCH: Burton 0-1 City | Extended highlights

GALLERY: Blues seal Wembley return

The Manchester Evening News’ Stuart Brennan reflected: “For Pep Guardiola and his team, it was just another job to get done, without fuss and – given the plummeting temperatures on a pitch with no undersoil heating – without mishap.

“They broke their own record aggregate scoreline for a cup semi-final, beating the 9-0 Manuel Pellegrini’s team piled up against West Ham five years ago.

“Second legs rarely follow the same pattern as one-sided first legs, and this was never going to be another massacre.

“Burton were clearly determined not to suffer the same kind of embarrassment dished out at the Etihad a fortnight ago, hustling and bustling, and making use of the fact City’s slick football would suffer from the conditions underfoot.

“On a tight little ground, City handed a debut to Ian Carlo Poveda, as well as pairing youngsters Philippe Sandler and Eric Garcia at centre back.

“Burton were clearly determined not to suffer the same kind of embarrassment dished out at the Etihad a fortnight ago, hustling and bustling, and making use of the fact City’s slick football would suffer from the conditions underfoot.

“With all those factors considered, it was never going to be a slick, fully-functioning City machine, but rather a trial run for some new parts.”

The aforementioned young trio of Sandler, Garcia and Poveda earned rapturous acclaim across the board, receiving complimentary marks in several ‘player ratings’ features – as did the returning Riyad Mahrez.

Squawka’s William Eldridge was particularly impressed, declaring: “Sandler genuinely looked comfortable in City’s ranks.

“When Burton put pressure on the City backline, Sandler had the patience and calmness to ensure he didn’t just clear the ball into touch, an attribute that would have impressed his manager.

“There were a number of times Burton managed to get the ball in the box but it seemed Sandler was always there to get in the way.

“This evening has done no damage to Sandler’s chances of emerging into the first team squad.

“In two games, Garcia’s presence has ensured that his side went 180 minutes without conceding, which is an achievement no matter who your opposition is.

“But Burton didn’t just sit and wait to be officially out of the competition. Nigel Clough’s side pushed forward in the second half, trying to get themselves at least on the scoresheet before the semi-final was through.

“But Garcia’s partnership at the back with Sandler was key to City’s defensive organisation, with the young Spaniard knowing his positioning on the pitch, providing his teammates with someone to pass to at the back and ensuring that any Burton forwards knew they were in for a game.

“A great defensive clearance off the line personified Garcia’s effectiveness this evening and highlighted his importance to the City cause.”

In other news, turning attentions to transfer gossip and 90 Min claim City are ‘leading the race’ for Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt.

According to Tom Gott: “The 19-year-old is widely believed to be one of the most exciting young talents in world football and, alongside teammate Frenkie de Jong, is expected to make a blockbuster move to one of Europe's biggest clubs in the near future.

“News of City's interest in de Ligt comes from Dutch outlet Voetbal International, who describe City as the ‘main bidder’ in the race for the defender's signature.

“The report claims that City have identified de Ligt as their desired defensive reinforcement for next summer, but they are keen to make a move to sign him as soon as possible, with many of Europe's elite clubs said to be pushing hard for the youngster's signature.

“Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have been tipped to go head to head for the signatures of both de Ligt and de Jong, whilst Juventus and Bayern are also thought to be monitoring the centre-back.”

Meanwhile, the London Evening Standard believe Leicester’s Ben Chilwell is ‘high on Guardiola’s list of targets’ as potential cover for Benjamin Mendy.