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Media Watch: City to step up Saul pursuit?

Transfer gossip, an injury scare for Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, a focus on one of City’s exciting young loan stars and a blast from the Blues’ past all feature in today’s busy media round-up.

City, of course, are having a welcome break from action ahead of a hectic last six weeks of the campaign with the focus instead trained on the international scene.

Both Sane and Ilkay Gundogan featured for a new-look, youthful Germany last night as they drew 1-1 with Serbia in a friendly clash.

However, Sky Sports reports how there was a late scare for Sane who was the subject of a controversial challenge in injury time.

Sky reports: “Germany boss Joachim Low said Leroy Sane "got away with not getting hurt" after a dangerous tackle from Milan Pavkov in Germany's 1-1 draw with Serbia on Wednesday night.

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“Sane was taken off following Pavkov's challenge in injury time, which earned the Serbia player a red card - but Low confirmed the Manchester City winger would be fit for Germany's next game, against the Netherlands on Sunday.

“The Germany coach told reporters: "It was a vicious foul. Sane was lucky and got away with not getting hurt but such fouls can break bones.

“Luka Jovic gave Serbia a surprise lead in the first half with a close-range header before substitute Leon Goretzka scored an equaliser, while visiting goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic made several saves to deny Germany a second goal.

Meanwhile, there is more transfer speculation involving the Blues via ESPN who claim the champions are poised to step up our reported interest in Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez.

ESPN’s Mark Ogden and Moises Llorens assert: “City are closing in on a summer deal for Saul Niguez after moving ahead of Barcelona in the race to sign the Atletico Madrid midfielder, sources have told ESPN FC.

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“City manager Pep Guardiola has identified Saul, 24, as a long term replacement for Fernandinho.

“Despite capturing the highly-rated Netherlands international, Barcelona have also tracked Saul as they attempt to reduce the average age of Ernesto Valverde's squad. “But sources have told ESPN FC that Barca have been made aware of City already making firm steps to seal a deal for the Spain midfielder.

“Saul's representatives have been in contact with Barcelona for the last few months. "He can't stay at Atletico anymore, everything's complicated for him there," a source told ESPN..

“Now, 10 points behind the leaders in La Liga and out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey, the midfielder doesn't see a future at the Wanda Metropolitano."

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Back on the international scene and The Daily Star carries a piece with the Blues’ Brazilian star Gabriel Jesus, currently away on international duty, who talks about the help and advice he has received from team-mate Sergio Aguero – and his determination to become a regular starter at club level..

Writes the Star’s chief soccer writer Jeremy Cross: “The Brazilian international admits it will be a tough task going head-to-head with in-form rival Sergio Aguero.

“Jesus, who has 18 goals from 38 games for City this season, has had to be patient following his £27m switch from Palmeiras in 2017.

“Aguero remains Pep Guardiola's No.1 forward after setting club records that might never be broken.

“But Jesus, preparing for Brazil's international games against Panama and the Czech Republic, said he is determined to prove his long-term worth to Guardiola and reclaim his starting place.

He said: "I've been talking a lot with my family and friends about it.

"I had a very good moment in my career and life when I had a meteoric rise.

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“I achieved a lot of things quickly, but it's normal, as I'm still 21-years-old. There's no reason for any rush,” said Jesus.

"I am, indeed, staying on the Manchester City bench at the moment, but I'm fighting to get my place back in the starting line-up.

"But I'm fighting with the top scorer in the club's history. Sergio has been helping me very much, and I'm working hard to try to get my place back."

Meanwhile, the Manchester Evening News carries a feature with City’s young Welsh star Matt Smith, who is currently on a season-long loan at Dutch club FC Twente.

The 19-year-old has linked up with the Wales squad ahead of their friendly with Trinidad and Tobago.

And the M.E.N's Dan O’Toole has spoken at length with the youngster, reporting: “The Redditch-born midfielder has played 90 minutes in all but six of his 27 league appearances for Twente this season and feels the pressures of a first-team environment have aided his development .

"I think I’ve matured quite a lot as a player," he says. "When you’re playing under-23s there’s a league format but it’s not really competitive." 

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He also told O’Toole about the help and support he had received from Dragons boss Ryan Giggs, who handed Smith his international debut earlier this year.

"He’s obviously given me the opportunity to make my international debut," Smith, with four caps to his name, says. "I respect him so highly for giving me that and I’m grateful for the opportunity that he’s given me.

"The experience that the gaffer is giving me is something that really is amazing.

"The players I’m playing with as well, they’re helping me and all of the other young ones out and they make us feel like we’ve been a part of the team for a long time."

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Finally, there’s a fascinating interview in the Hartlepool Mail with former City and Middlesbrough star Jamie Pollock who is now carving out a new career path as a non-league manager.

The Mail’s Mark Carruthers scribes: “Former Middlesbrough and Manchester City midfielder Jamie Pollock is relishing life as manager of Northern League Division Two club Billingham Synthonia.

"It hasn’t been without its difficulties, as Pollock’s young side take on the numerous challenges that the sixth-tier of non-league football can provide. After a difficult start to the season, Synners are showing signs of life. A 4-0 win at struggling Durham City – their third in their four games – moved Pollock’s side into the top eight of the division.

“We don’t want to be a normal Northern League team, we want to play football and we want to do it our way," said Pollock.

“If we have to do things slower, that’s what we will do. “We have no questions over the players in terms of footballing ability.

What we are now asking them is to grow up quickly and learn the mentality of the Northern League. “Then the quality will shine through. “We have time on our side, and we have a good young group. “We attack teams and that’s a good sign.”

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All the latest City news and opinion from across this morning's back pages.

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