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Media Watch: Blues eye Sporting defender?

TARGET?: City are allegedly eyeing defender Tiago Djalo...

TARGET?: City are allegedly eyeing defender Tiago Djalo...

It may be Cup semi-final day but there are plenty of topics for discussion in Wednesday morning's City-centric headlines...

From Carabao Cup and Checkatrade Trophy chat to transfer tales, there's a lot to discuss so let's kick-off with the main talking point: tonight's visit of Burton Albion.

City host the Brewers in the first of our two-legged last four encounter, looking to retain the League Cup, and Tyrone Marshall of the Manchester Evening News has examined how achieving that feat could also benefit the Blues in the Premier League title race.

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“This isn't a competition that the Premier League's best are parachuting out of as early as possible,” he scribes.

“Instead it's one that they're keen to win. There is a cachet that comes with claiming the first silverware of the season, handed out at the end of February these days.

“There is often now a correlation between the League Cup winners and the title winners come May, with three of the last five seasons ending in a League Cup-league title double and five of the last 14 dating back to Jose Mourinho's first season at Chelsea, in 2004/05. Before that the last team to do that double was Liverpool in 1983/84.

“That compares to only one team winning the traditional FA Cup/league title double in the past 16 years - Chelsea in 2009/10. It's now the League Cup that usually precedes a league title for England's double winners, rather than an FA Cup following a title at the end of the season.

“So the start of the two-legged semi-final with League One side Burton Albion this week could be a key moment in City's season, as could a potential Wembley date with Tottenham or Chelsea on February 24.

“If Pep Guardiola's side can defend the League Cup they won with a convincing success against Arsenal last season then the omens could be good for the Premier League run-in and what is shaping up to be a thrilling title race.

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“It could put City on course for their third League Cup and Premier League double in six seasons and give them the edge over Liverpool in the battle for the title.

“Winning the first silverware of the season can ease the pressure on the top clubs, desperate for a trophy to define their season by, while also giving the players the winning feeling, a sensation they're desperate to repeat over the next three months.”

City's Elite Development Squad experienced 'that winning feeling' on Tuesday night, producing a superb comeback to triumph 4-2 at Rochdale in the Checkatrade Trophy - and Dale manager Keith Hill dubbed the young Blues 'an excellent side'.

Speaking to Dale’s official website, he reflected: “We knew they were a good side and we knew what they were all about.

“We pressed and were full of energy and we kept the ball well in the first half. We scored the two goals and we took a deserved lead.

“In the second half we got tired and gave the ball away too much, and we made mistakes at key times in the game.

“At 2-0, their first goal is a terrible mistake and it gives the opponents a lift. It doesn’t kill us but their third one is a deadly goal.

“They’re an excellent side for the age that they are playing at but I was really pleased with a lot of aspects of what we did tonight.

“It’s difficult to play against an opposition like that.”

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Turning attentions to transfer news and Portuguese news outlet O Jogo believe City, West Ham and Lazio are monitoring Sporting Lisbon defender Tiago Djalo.

A translated article reads: “The process of renewal of Tiago Djaló, the 18-year-old midfielder who is part of the under-23 side of Sporting Clube de Portugal, is increasingly complicated and begins to have the first ... dire consequences.

“O Jogo has learned that the young defender has not been an option for Alexandre Santos, coach of the second formation of the green and white, precisely because of the extreme positions that have hindered the agreement between parties.

“As you can see, on the table is a proposal for a contract until 2023 (plus four years compared to that ending in June), but the problem is not the duration; rather, it relates to the sums involved at the salary level, with a substantial difference between the lions and the representation of the central.

“Contacted by our newspaper, Sporting expressed interest in continuing to negotiate the contract renewal. Meanwhile, Manchester City, West Ham and Lazio have already expressed an interest in having the player.”

Finally, after it was reported yesterday that City were one of three clubs allegedly ‘keeping tabs’ on Paulo Dybala, today Tuttosport claim Juventus have moved quickly to refute any interest.

According to Barney Corkhill of Sportsmole: “Juventus have reportedly turned down bids for striker Paulo Dybala from three of Europe's biggest clubs.

“Speculation surfaced yesterday suggesting that Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich had all tabled offers for the Argentine, who has also been linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid.

“However, Tuttosport claims that all three approaches were quickly rejected by Juventus, despite the Italian champions being open to the idea of selling the forward.

“Juve are thought to be holding out for a bid of at least £90m, which would eclipse the £89m sum they received when selling Paul Pogba to United in 2016.

“Dybala has been forced to play a slightly different role this season following the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and has subsequently scored only seven goals in 23 appearances - including just two in the league.

“The 25-year-old is understood to be happy at Juventus but would be open to a move should another of Europe's major forces come knocking.”

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