A Premier League Asia Trophy preview, high praise for Riyad Mahrez and two tales of transfer gossip form the pick of Friday’s City-centric headlines…

With City set to lock horns with Wolves in Saturday's tournament Final, Mahrez's Algeria looking to lift the Africa Cup of Nations and of course, the transfer window open, there are plenty of topics for discussion.

Opinion

Manchester Evening News: Pep Guardiola must make the most of toughest Man City pre-season test before Liverpool

Simon Bajkowski: “City's hopes for May 2020 will not rest on whether or not they win the Premier League Asia Trophy this Saturday, but the next 90 minutes should be the most important remaining from their Far East tour.

“Awaiting the Blues on their return to England in August will be Jurgen Klopp's Premier League runners-up in the Community Shield, where there will be no shortage of commentary drawing big conclusions from the friendly results (you can imagine Sky's CLASH OF CHAMPIONS tagline now.)

“Defeat in that game will be as devastating to Guardiola as losing to Wolves on Saturday will be, but Nuno's men represent the toughest and best opportunity for the holders to be in the best possible shape for the traditional season opener.

“City are already well aware of how dangerous Wolves can be, having struggled past them in the league cup in 2017 before being held at Molineux in an absorbing Premier League encounter a year later. The newcomers ruffled many a top-six feather and have ambitions to break into that hierarchy.”

READ: Bernardo targets trophy tonic

WATCH: De Bruyne sets sights on big 2019/20 season

WATCH: Tunnel Cam: Behind-the-scenes on Rodri's debut

Gulf Today: Le Roy: Algeria are ‘Guardiolaesque’

Claude Le Roy: “Algeria are so well organised, so compact, so ‘Guardiolaesque’ in the way they recover the ball.

“Perhaps it is the influence of Mahrez.”


Transfer gossip

The Mirror: Argentina's 'next Lionel Messi' shuns new contract to push for Premier League transfer

Gareth Bicknell: “Argentine ace Thiago Almada - dubbed 'the next Lionel Messi ' - is stalling on a new contract amid reports Manchester City are set to step up their interest.

“Almada has been offered a new deal by his club Vélez Sarsfield in his native Argentina - but they want to up the 18-year-old's release clause from £14million to £23million.

“Manchester City are understood to have made one offer of £11million for the attacking midfielder, and are expected to come back with a stronger bid this summer.

“Vélez want the exciting Almada to commit to a new deal, and have claimed negotiations are all but done, with just the player's signature missing.

“But with City having come so close to matching his current release clause, Almada is reluctant to commit to signing a deal that would have a vastly increased release clause and therefore make his dream move to the Premier League more difficult.

“That is according to Portuguese publication A Bola, who claim Almada is aware of City's interest and does not want to miss his chance to join Pep Guardiola's side.”

WATCH: De Bruyne sets sights on big 2019-20 season

Sports Mole: Manchester City want to sign Leonardo Bonucci this summer?

Matt Law: “Manchester City are reportedly interested in a summer move for Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci.

“The Citizens are expected to bring a new central defender to the club ahead of the 2019-20 campaign following Vincent Kompany's departure.

“Leicester City's Harry Maguire has been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium, although it is thought that Manchester United now lead the race for the England international.

“According to Corriere dello Sport, City are one of a number of clubs interested in Bonucci, who could be allowed to leave the Italian champions this summer following the arrival of Matthijs de Ligt.”