Man City chairman sanctions firesale

Khaldoon Al Mubarak has suggested there will be significant changes at the Etihad Stadium this summer as the Blues look to move on from the disappointment of last season


Manchester City have given the strongest hint yet that a significant number of the current squad will be shown the exit door this summer.

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, who has become known for his honesty regarding matters at the club, has already admitted that last season’s performance fell well below expectations back in Abu Dhabi, where City owner Sheikh Mansour resides.

A host of players are likely to leave this summer, including stalwarts Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta, as well as expensive flops Eliaquim Mangala and Wilfried Bony.

Incoming coach Pep Guardiola was given full backing to “transform the team to a whole new level” in the first part of Al Mubarak’s end-of-season interview, released on Sunday evening, and the Catalan will be given scope to discard those who underperformed in Manuel Pellegrini’s final campaign.

Al Mubarak also referred repeatedly to the need for passion and commitment, and it appears several players have fallen short of that requirement and will now be sold.

“We have to keep that balance between what we have built and the future,” Al Mubarakt told City TV. “We have to keep a balance between age groups, between young players and experienced players, and all this balance is really in the hands of Pep.

“Pep has a particular way he wants to manage the squad and a particular way he wants to play and I think we will need particular players who will join the team that fit and be moulded to the way he would like this team to play.

“There will also be some players that the time is right for them to move on. I think we will have some changes this summer. We will invest as we have always done in this club, in this team, and we will provide the necessary resources for Pep to build a team that has the ambition and the capability to go and win back this Premier League for us, to go as far as we can and try and win the Champions League and keep pushing at the cups.”

Willy Caballero, Aleksandar Kolarov, Martin Demichelis and Fernando are all facing up to futures away from the club, while there are also doubts surrounding Samir Nasri, and even Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart.

It is understood City had been open to the prospect of moving Kompany on earlier this year, but his four-month injury lay-off is thought to have scuppered those plans.

In the case of Hart, a summer exit for the highly regarded England No.1 remains unlikely, but any prospect of a rumoured £40 million bid from Everton would surely tempt City, with Guardiola known to be targeting a goalkeeper who fits more easily into his football philosophy.

And while City are willing to back Guardiola in the transfer market this summer, the club are also hopeful that the former Bayern Munich coach will find room for a number of young talents coming through the ranks.

Youngsters Bersant Celina, Aleix Garcia, Manu Garcia and Tosin Adarabioyo are all expected to play some part in City’s pre-season preparations this summer, while 16-year-old prospect Brahim Diaz has been tipped to get a taste of first-team action in the short-term future.

“That’s one of the reasons why Pep was so highly considered,” Al Mubarak said on the subject of youth. “That ethos we have at Man City that Pep… I think actually believes to the bone. He has done that with Barcelona, he has done that with Bayern Munich.

“Even with the abundance of talent he had with both first teams, Pep always has a knack for talent and he loves to find young players that have incredible talent. He finds that talent and nurtures it and you find them evolve and succeed at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

“We have that at our club. We have incredible talent today. It’s the first time in the years since we have started this experience that truly, and at every level almost within the football club, we have incredible talent. We really do.

“This is an organisation that has won the Under-10 national championship, the Under-13s, Under-15s and the Under-18s this year. We are competitive with a lot of talent across all age levels going all the way to EDS and Pep, I think, will enjoy that and will find a lot of gems we are going to produce.”

Signing Yaya Toure not a priority for Inter – director

The Ivory Coast international is being strongly linked with a move to the Nerazzurri but club chief Piero Ausilio insists they have other matters to focus on first

Inter are interested in Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure but are in no rush to push through a deal as they sort a change in ownership, says the Serie A side’s director Piero Ausilio.

Toure, who has just one year left on his current deal at City, is expected to leave the club this summer with speculation claiming incoming boss Pep Guardiola is keen for the Ivorian to move on.

The 33-year-old has been strongly linked with a switch to Inter for several months, which would see him reunite with former City boss Roberto Mancini at the San Siro.

However, Ausilio says plans to sign new players have been shelved until Inter’s ownership situation is sorted, with Chinese investors Suning Commerce Group set to purchase a majority 70 per cent stake from Nerazzurri president Erick Thohir.

“Yaya Toure is a player that we really like,” Ausilio told reporters. “But first we have to sort out [the] ownership change.


GOALREAD MORE  | ‘We knew Gundogan wanted City move’


“There are still things to be sorted out between Thohir, [Massimo] Moratti and the Chinese group. That is why we have not pursued Toure yet, but we are interested.

“As a club we are aware of the challenges we face, but we will strive to get better. We are Inter and our goal can’t be to finish fourth.

“There are obviously other teams who have similar ambitions but we are determined to be in the Champions League.”

Toure scored six goals in 32 Premier League matches as City finished fourth this season.

RUMOURS: Yaya Toure wants Premier League stay if sold by Man City

The 33-year-old has offers from Inter and the Chinese Super League, among others, but would prefer to remain in England should Pep Guardiola opt to sell him


Yaya Toure is determined to remain in the Premier League should he leave Manchester City this summer, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The 33-year-old’s future at the Etihad Stadium is in doubt over a reportedly strained relationship with incoming City manager Pep Guardiola.

Former City boss Roberto Mancini remains keen to bring him to Inter, while Chinese club Shanghai SIPG have tabled a £300,000-a-week salary to rival interest from MLS and UAE outfits.

But Toure’s preferred choice is to continue in the Premier League, having arrived from Barcelona, then managed by Guardiola, in 2010.



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Stones & Kroos in, Toure & Zabaleta out – Manchester City’s summer transfer plans

Pep Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad Stadium will bring about major changes this summer, even if the Blues only land four or five of their top transfer targets

After months of planning, the first phase of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City overhaul will be put into practice this summer, but the incoming manager has a big job on his hands if he is to get the current squad playing the kind of high-intensity passing football he has employed at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

City were far from perfect for much of the season but their title challenge swiftly fell away after it was announced Guardiola would replace Manuel Pellegrini.

After their impressive Champions League run came to an end in low-key circumstances, the campaign, and Pellegrini’s reign, fizzled out.

A top four finish was secured, however, which means Guardiola will have the carrot of top-level European football to offer his targets – and there are many.


CONFIRMED DEALS
 


The biggest confirmed deal from City’s point of view is Guardiola himself. That has allowed Txiki Begiristain, the coach’s close friend and the Blues’ sporting director, to start pursuing their targets.

None are yet confirmed, but a number of players have been identified and Ilkay Gundogan’s arrival could be made official this week.

He will the first of several big names through the door, with a host of current City players likely to be shown the exit. Like incomings, however, there is nothing concrete just yet. Martin Demichelis, whose contract expires this summer, is as close to confirmed as you can get.


THE DEPARTURES
 


Demichelis is just one of several players likely to leave. Willy Caballero could also go, with Guardiola expected to bring in a new goalkeeper to push Joe Hart. Pablo Zabaleta had looked increasingly likely to go but his injury, which has kept him out of this summer’s Copa America, has thrown those plans into jeopardy. If Zabaleta does leave, Italy looks a likely destination, and Serie A may come calling for Aleksandar Kolarov, too. Fernando has played an important role for City this season but he could fall foul of Guardiola’s plans, and Wilfried Bony is almost certain to go around 18 months after he signed.

Then there are the old guard. Yaya Toure’s agent is making all the noise again, with Roberto Mancini’s Inter one possible destination and the Chinese Super League another. Many Inter fans are already putting Yaya Toure Wallpapers on their desktop and mobile backgrounds. There are also question marks about David Silva’s future due to his ankle woes, and that is also the case for Vincent Kompany. He, though, will not be back in action until next season is under way, which could scupper any plans that were in place to move the captain on. Hart will also be under pressure, but an exit this summer would be a huge statement of intent from Guardiola, and also unlikely.

Elsewhere, sources have indicated that Eliaquim Mangala will leave City, two years after joining for a world record fee for a defender.


THE ARRIVALS
 


Those same sources have laid out Guardiola’s key targets. John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, both 21, are the two centre-backs that have been earmarked to lead this new City era from the back. Laporte is nursing a broken ankle but City’s interest persists.

The other key area set for an overhaul is in midfield, and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos and Juventus’ Paul Pogba and join Gundogan on the list marked “priority”.

Gundogan’s knee injury, which will rule him out until October, had thrown the move into doubt, but Goal has previously reported City’s intention to push through the deal and it seems an official announcement is imminent.

The injury had led to renewed links to Bayern Munich’s Thiago, an old Guardiola favourite. The Spain midfielder only signed a new deal this season, however, and would be far costlier than what City will pay for Gundogan. That is also the case for Dortmund’s Julian Weigl, whose ability to dominate matches from a deep midfield position will surely appeal to Guardiola.

Pogba, of course, will be more expensive than the lot of them. It is understood he is open to a move to City, particularly to link up with Guardiola, but City’s need and desire for an overhaul may dictate that they are more economical with their funds.

Kroos, however, may well be an option. Real Madrid could be looking to shake up their own squad this summer if this is the final major transfer window before a potential Fifa embargo. Kroos left Guardiola’s Bayern for Madrid in 2014 and, while he has done well in Madrid, there is a feeling that the Spanish giants would sell him if they are to raise funds and bring in one or two new faces – maybe they will turn to Pogba themselves.

A host of other names have been linked, with City keeping tabs on hundreds of players across the world. The recurring targets are Sime Vrsaljko, Sassuolo’s Croatian right-back, Schalke’s Leroy Sane, Tottenham’s Danny Rose, and Arsenal trio Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez.

Vrsaljko represents the kind of more affordable targets that City will pursue alongside the likes of Stones and Kroos, although Jason Denayer is expected to return from loan and provide cover at rigth-back and in the centre, and Napoli are said to be interested in the Croatian.

City have watched Sane for months – and indeed Manchester United are concerned about their rivals’ interest – and the Germany winger would command a fee of around €40m. The Blues’ chances of signing Oxlade-Chamberlain are higher than of prising Wilshere or Alexis from the Gunners, and the homegrown quota will be increasingly important.

On that score, they will bolster the ranks with the most talented members of the youth ranks. Bersant Celina, Manu Garcia, Aleix Garcia, Tosin Adarabioyo and Jacob Davenport are all in the frame to show what they can do in pre-season, and decisions will be made on their first-team futures later in the summer.

One curiosity, given his quality, popularity with fans and his homegrown status, is that Hart’s place is under threat. Barcelona’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen has been identified as a goalkeeper capable of slotting into Guardiola’s plans, although Real Sociedad’s Geronimo Rulli may prove to be more cost effective.


HOW THE TEAM WILL LOOK
 


There are changes afoot at the Etihad Stadium and the squad – and playing style – will be almost unrecognisable over the coming months. There are a number of obstacles to traverse and players to be re-trained and/or accommodated, but, if City can get their top targets, they may look something like this, at least at times.

Eight out, five in? How tricky is Guardiola's Man City overhaul?

The Blues will say goodbye to a number of players this summer and are hoping to bring in a host of centre-backs and central midfielders as they try to revitalise their squad


GOALCOMMENT

Pep Guardiola will soon arrive in England, where he will be charged with bringing up to scratch the one aspect of the modern Manchester City football club that is performing below expectations: the men’s first team.

As City thrive in the financial league tables, strive for dominance on the youth football scene and set the standard in the women’s game, the focal point of the operation, to which so much money has been invested, is currently lagging behind.

Manuel Pellegrini’s time at the helm has come to an end and, whether his reign is judged a success or otherwise, there is a common consensus that the squad Guardiola inherits is in need of major surgery.

It was written on these pages after City’s final league defeat of the season, their tenth in total, that the squad needs ripping up and starting again. It was a fringe XI fielded at Southampton that day but the performance ranks alongside those sorry showings against Stoke City, Liverpool (twice), Tottenham (twice), Leicester City and Manchester United.

There is not only a need for significant change, but an appetite for it within the club. So how can it be achieved this summer?

Of the 13 players to feature at St Mary’s, five are almost certain to be shown the door. Martin Demichelis‘ contract is up; Pablo Zabaleta, injury permitting, looks to be on his way to Italy; Aleksandar Kolarov will be shipped out; Eliaquim Mangala is considered disposable by the club’s hierarchy and Wilfried Bony‘s disappointing time spell will surely be brought to an end, six months before City pay Swansea the final installment of his transfer fee.

Fernando, who has played an important role in the City team this season and finished the campaign strongly, could also be moved on. His game is similar to compatriot Luiz Gustavo, who left Bayern Munich within weeks of Guardiola’s arrival and was replaced by Thiago Alcantara. “I felt that something had to change,” the Brazilian said in August 2014. “That feeling got even stronger after a first meeting with Guardiola.”

Add in Willy Caballero, whose stock rose significantly after his starring role in the League Cup final but is still expected to depart, and Yaya Toure, whose future is expected to be revealed before the end of the month, and we are up to eight players.

It is true that few of those men, bar perhaps Toure, would be named in City’s first-choice XI, but the key to the overhaul is not the number, but the calibre of the replacements.

City maintain they are targeting just four or five players this summer as they look to enable Guardiola to play the football he wants to play. Those players are concentrated in just two vital positions: the centre of defence and the centre of midfield.

Aymeric Laporte, nursing a broken ankle, and John Stones are the men identified to shake up the defence. The two 21-year-olds are capable of playing out of the back – as analysed here – and it is hoped they are malleable enough to benefit from Guardiola’s tutelage, just as Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez did in his first summer in Bavaria.


GOALREAD MORE  | How Stones & Laporte fit Guardiola’s Man City blueprint

Jason Denayer is expected to be recalled from a loan spell at Galatasaray, too, and can provide an option at centre-back and right-back.

The other names firmly on City’s radar are central midfielders. A deal for Ilkay Gundogan was moving closer and closer until the Borussia Dortmund midfielder dislocated his kneecap; Toni Kroos, who left Bayern against Guardiola’s wishes to join Real Madrid in 2014, has also been highlighted; and there is hope Paul Pogba can be prised from Juventus a year after he proved too costly.

Gundogan’s injury, like Laporte’s, is a spanner in the works. City are thought to be keen to sign him regardless, but his role in pre-season training will be as important as his role in the first team – he can demonstrate Guardiola’s specific needs to his new team-mates just as Thiago did in his first months in Germany – meaning alternatives, including Thiago himself, are being monitored.

There are a host of other names in the frame, as is to be expected. A potential raid on Arsenal has been mooted, with Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez linked, while Leroy Sane has been monitored closely over recent months and Manchester United are thought to be concerned about the Blues’ interest.


GOAL READ MORE  | Why Sane should pick City over United


The fact City are ready to ship out fringe players and directly replace them with world-class talent highlights the intentions of Guardiola and sporting director Txiki Begiristain.

And there is no need to replace the outgoings man for man. If eight players, or potentially even more, are shown the door, City don’t need to bring in eight reinforcements. Guardiola has traditionally been happy to work with smaller, more versatile squads, and call upon young talents when needed.

Given the number of first teamers and potential arrivals involved in international tournaments this summer, City’s young prospects will get extra opportunity to show the new manager what they can do. Bersant Celina recently signed a new deal and could be joined by the likes of Manu Garcia, Aleix Garcia and Tosin Adarabioyo on City’s pre-season tour of Asia.

With four or five world-class arrivals and an injection of youth, the City squad is going to look very different come the start of next season. This year’s first choices could be next year’s back-ups.

And that’s without considering the futures of City’s more established players. Toure looks set to be the first of the old guard to depart but there are question marks over David Silva and Vincent Kompany, too. The two stalwarts have been beset by injuries this season and there have been reports that Guardiola could be ready to move them on.


GOALREAD MORE  | Why Man City’s Ter Stegen interest makes complete sense

To the surprise of many supporters, Joe Hart‘s place could be under threat as well. Barcelona’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and has been watched, although Real Sociedad’s Geronimo Rulli presents a cheaper option. The Argentine’s arrival would put less pressure on Hart than if Ter Stegen were to up sticks, but it is an interesting scenario.

Those issues, though, are surely to be addressed later in the summer, or even 12 months down the line. The size of Guardiola’s task is huge, and he will first concentrate on the fringe players whose time at City has come to an end.

Either way, the City squad will look very different come the start of the 2016-17 season.