The transfer window closing doesn’t make any difference to the constant speculation surrounding City, so that’s where we’ll start…
Express: City target Mbappe or Kane
“Despite reports linking the Citizens with Lionel Messi, they seem unlikely to make a move for the Barcelona forward.
“Speaking on Friday, Guardiola insisted he wanted to see the six-time Ballon d’Or winner stay at the Nou Camp.
“Instead, City officials have a host of big-name targets in mind, as Guardiola knows he will need to get the chequebook out to bring in a top-quality forward.
“Mbappe, Kane and Lautaro Martinez are all on the Spaniard’s shopping list according to the Daily Mirror, and it is possible that City will spend big next summer once Aguero's contract expires.”
“Kevin De Bruyne shrugs at a comparison with Zinedine Zidane, purveying an grounded approach to being likened to the Real Madrid coach when he once graced the game as a player – and acclaimed among the world’s best right now.
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"With poise, a powerful stride, technique, vision and passing and shooting skills that often defy belief, the Manchester City midfielder’s style is reminiscent of the legendary Frenchman.
‘I don’t know about that,’ said De Bruyne. ‘It’s nice when people say this kind of [positive] stuff. It means I am doing good – and that’s about it.”
The modest response is indicative of De Bruyne’s mindset, focus and attitude. Down to earth off the pitch, driven on it. It appears plaudits won’t change his personality, nor the will to win and approach in trying to produce football that ranks alongside the finest.
‘Maybe yes I am playing my best football, but it’s so difficult to say,’ De Bruyne told Sport360 exclusively.
“It depends how you look at football. If you look at my football in general, as a complete player, I probably am.
‘But some people like more the purity of football, some people like the statistics. It doesn’t matter. I feel good, I feel I can help my team and that’s about it.’
“It is not just the glorious assists, 15 of them – becoming the first in Premier League history to provide 15 and more in three different campaigns – or goals, seven of them, that have defined De Bruyne’s quality this season, and ever since his £55 million arrival from Wolfsburg in 2015.
“But it is his leadership too. Pressing, probing, hustling, heroic, the brilliant Belgian has often been City’s driving force, setting the high standards for others to follow and pushing them to fulfilment.”
‘That’s how I play,’ said the 28-year-old, a strong contender to captain City next season after David Silva leaves this summer.
‘I still have a lot of energy and I think it’s important for the way we play. We play pressing and if I give the example the team will follow. That’s the only thing I believe.
‘Now I’m like one of the older players and you have to set the example. The way you play on the pitch shows what the intentions are.
‘Everyone makes mistakes, nobody is perfect, but I always try to do the things I need to do. I know the young guys will follow.
‘I think it’s the right way to show yourself as a professional and help the team, to help push them as winners. If you want to play for a team like City then you want to win.
‘I think it’s something I had always. I think I was even worse when I was younger, always wanted to win, and you think about it more after the game.
‘In the end we work very hard and we know other teams are really good – and in the end if you do what you have to do and lose sometimes, then that’s just the way it is.
‘I don’t think anything is different from last year really [in our desire]. We know where we are in the league, we work hard and just try to win every game. This year we lost some games, lost some points, but we just take it how it is and that’s because the other teams are good – and that’s it.’
“But there is still much at stake for De Bruyne and City as they face a League Cup final date with Aston Villa, a trip to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fifth round and Zidane’s Real in the last 16 of the Champions League.
“The Spanish side, who host the first leg on February 26, have won the competition 13 times and three times in Zidane’s first spell in charge from 2016-18.
“Having become English football’s most successful club over the past decade in domestic competition, City would no doubt love to create the same storied history in Europe.
‘Yeah, but it’s difficult.’ added De Bruyne, who faces West Ham on Sunday – the club he scored against on his City debut in September 2015. ‘Obviously it’s a different tradition. City are an old club and on another path, but the path that this club has taken, we are now writing history for ourselves.
‘People talk about what happened 30-40 years ago, but what we do right now is a good thing and the only thing we can do as players.’
“And he will relish the tough test against Real – and a potential reunion with compatriot Eden Hazard, who is hoping to return for the tie after an ankle injury.
‘I played against him when he was at Lille, when he was at Chelsea, so I have played with him and against him. It’s 90 minutes as opponents and then back to being friends.’“With the draw, I don’t think there was a small team we could have had. If you want to win the Champions League you need to beat the best. I think this is what you want to play for. You want to play Champions League, World Cups, Euros, all that stuff.
“Obviously it’s something I have not won so maybe subconsciously it’s something that we want more. But you want to win everything, League Cup, FA Cup, Champions League, training also – sometimes it’s even worse in training.
“No matter who we play, we respect the opponent and that’s the way we have to do it in every game. Even like Port Vale in the FA Cup [third round], we put out a good team to show we want to win. No matter who we play, no matter which competition, we always want to win.’
Sport Review: Charlie Nicolas predicts City v West Ham
Charlie Nicholas is backing Manchester City to claim a thumping 4-0 win over West Ham United in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
As things stand, Manchester City are 22 points behind leaders Liverpool FC but they can close that gap down to 19 points with victory as the Reds are not in action this weekend.
And former Arsenal star Nicholas does not envisage Manchester City having any problems when they take on West Ham United this weekend.
Writing in his column for Sky Sports, Nicholas said: “It is so typical of West Ham at the moment that they occasionally turn up, put in a performance for 25 minutes, but if they lose a goal then it is game over.
“It is not a happy time but David Moyes will have to dig in.”
That's all for this morning's Media Watch. Stay with us throughout the day as we bring you all the latest City news.
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