Media watch: Ref talk and defender linked

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The Saturday papers say that City are seeking greater protection for players from refs, while a highly-rated defender is linked with a summer move.

Multiple sources are carrying the story that City are leading the charge to eradicate the reckless fouls that have seen a number of players sidelined in recent weeks.

According to Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News: “The Blues have written to Mike Riley, head of the referees body PGMOL, to seek a meeting after a rash of dangerous challenges, one of which has seen Leroy Sane out for seven weeks with ankle ligament damage.

“Manager Pep Guardiola is keen to meet with Riley to discuss the matter, and the club has stressed that this is an attempt to get better protection for ALL players, not just those in sky blue.

“Guardiola has been furious over a series of dangerous challenges aimed at Kevin De Bruyne, Sane and Brahim Diaz in recent weeks, and several of his players have joined him in calling for refs to offer greater protection.

“The City manager fears it is only a matter of time before a player’s career is ended by a bad tackle, and feels the authorities need to tighten the rules.”

Meanwhile, City reportedly face competition from crosstown rivals Manchester United in the race to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City.

According to The Mirror, the 24-year-old defender will command a £50m fee in the next transfer window after impressing in his second Premier League campaign.

“United have joined City in the chase for Leicester defender Maguire setting up a summer tug-of-war between the two big Manchester rivals and bosses Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola,” The Mirror state.

“City have been monitoring Maguire all season and though £57m Aymeric Laporte arrived from Athletic Bilbao last month they also remain interested in the Leicester man.

“Maguire, 24, joined Leicester from Hull for £17m last summer on a five-year deal that runs until 2022.

“After a string of impressive performances and breaking into the England squad the Foxes believe his value has now almost trebled.

“And Leicester reminded their rivals they are no pushovers in the transfer market and capable of hanging onto their stars by fending off City when they made a late move for winger Riyad Mahrez last month.”

Another transfer line this morning relates to City’s reported courting of the Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, Fred. report that the Blues are close to reaching a deal with the Ukrainian outfit for the Brazilian.

“City had been working to sign the 24-year-old throughout January; having initially been happy to bring him to the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season, they then stepped up their efforts midway through the month and attempted to recruit him before the winter transfer deadline,” the website claims.

“The Blues were unable to break Shakhtar’s resolve to keep the midfielder for the remainder of their Champions League campaign, but they have been in constant talks with the Ukrainians over the past week to put together an agreement which will come into effect this summer.

“It is believed that all parties have agreed on the terms of the move, although nothing is officially signed.”

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