Manchester City are being linked with a host of new additions across the media today as the January gossip columns go into overdrive.
Let’s start with the Sun, who claim City are prepared to pay £100 million for Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
They believe City officials held talks with their Barcelona counterparts last month.
And although no formal offer was lodged, City made it clear they were willing to break the world transfer record for the Argentine, who is widely considered to be the world’s greatest player.
The report says: “Manchester City have told Barcelona: We will pay £100million to sign Lionel Messi.
“SunSport understands negotiations between executives of both clubs were held at the end of last month to determine if a world record transfer is possible.
“City did not make a formal bid for the five-time World Player of the Year, but made it clear they were not afraid of topping the global high of £89m that Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer.”
“Barca have so far refused to name a price or even confirm they will sell Messi, who will turn 30 in June.
“However, their willingness to listen to City has encouraged the Etihad hierarchy and the conversation was described as ‘positive’ by a source.”
Meanwhile, James Ducker and Matt Law, writing in the Telegraph, believe Pep Guardiola is planning a major summer overhaul.
They believe he will look to add at least five players to his ranks, including Southampton pair Ryan Bertrand and Virgil van Dijk and Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
They write: “It is possible City could attempt a double swoop on Southampton at the end of the season, with centre-half Virgil van Dijk already on their radar and left-back Bertrand highly rated by the club. Bertrand would fill a homegrown player slot for City and has already proved he can roam up and down the flank, as Guardiola demands from his full-backs. The 27-year-old joined Southampton from Chelsea and has matured into one of the best left-backs in the country along with Danny Rose, whom Tottenham Hotspur will not sell, despite Guardiola being an admirer of him and fellow Spurs full-back Kyle Walker.
“Bertrand signed a new five-year contract with Southampton last summer, which means City would have to pay big money to get him and there is no prospect of him moving this month.
“City are busy identifying targets for Guardiola’s planned overhaul and the club retain a strong interest in Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but will face stiff competition for the Gabon international, who scored the opening goal of the Africa Cup of Nations this week and has 20 goals in 22 matches for Dortmund this season. Real Madrid are also chasing Aubameyang, who, according to reports in Germany on Monday, Dortmund will not countenance selling for less than €70 million (£61.6 million).”
And, finally, the Telegraph believe Tottenham will be without influential centre-half Jan Vertonghen when the two sides meet at the Etihad this weekend.
The 29-year-old suffered the injury during Spurs’ impressive 4-0 win over West Brom at the weekend and looks unlikely to be fit in time to play against the Blues.
“Tottenham Hotspur are already resigned to being without Jan Vertonghen against Manchester City on Saturday amid fears of ankle ligament damage,” the report states.
“The full results of a scan are expected on Tuesday but manager Mauricio Pochettino fully expects to be without the Belgian in the immediate future, leaving the option of returning to a back four or, more likely, asking Ben Davies or Kevin Wimmer to play on the left of the three-man defensive system that has been working so well.”