£127.5million “diamond” to replace Riyad Mahrez identified – Sport Media News

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Manchester City are stepping up their efforts to land Kalvin Phillips from Leeds to add to their summer captures Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez.

They are also receiving interest from a number of their stars and Arsenal are increasingly confident they can lure Gabriel Jesus away from the Etihad to them. Chelsea are also targeting Raheem Sterling and the England forward has a year left on his City deal and is open to moving because he wants more game time.

Mirror Sport has the latest City transfer round-up, including updates on a possible replacement for Riyad Mahrez.

The Mail Online claim Raheem Sterling wants his future to be resolved before he begins pre-season training. The England forward is open to leaving Manchester City because he wants more game time and is wanted by Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Sterling, 27, who has just a year left on his City contract, is on holiday in Jamaica and would like to begin pre-season training with his future sorted.

Chelsea are very keen on landing Sterling and are prepared to meet City’s valuation to bring him to Stamford Bridge in what would be a statement signing for their new regime.

Riyad Mahrez’s future at Manchester City is uncertain because he has just one year left on his contract and is 31 and footballfancast claim the Blues could replace him with AC Milan winger Rafael Leao.

Leao has been a sensation for Milan and scored 11 goals and made eight assists to help them win the scudetto last season.

Milan legend Paolo Maldini has hailed the Portuguese winger as a “diamond” and the Serie A champions have inserted a whopping £127.5million buy-out clause in his contract.

Leao is a good age at 23 and it seems only a matter of time before he is lured to the Premier League.

Football365 carry a report from Football Insider which claims that Aston Villa and West Ham are trying to gatecrash Manchester City’s move for Kalvin Phillips.

Villa failed with a £26million bid for the Leeds midfielder in 2019 and West Ham claim they had a £50million offer rejected in January.

Both clubs are said to be still interested in landing the England international who will leave Elland Road this summer.

However the report says Phillips prefers City and will hold out for a £50million move to the champions.

Manchester City have certainly wasted no time in strengthening their squad after being crowned Premier League champions for a sixth time last May.

Pep Guardiola claimed a fourth English top division title in just five seasons when a dramatic comeback against Aston Villa on the final day of the campaign sealed the Premier League crown for the Etihad side.

Two goals from Ilkay Gundogan and another by Spanish midfielder Rodri were enough to see Manchester City pip top-flight rivals Liverpool to the crown in one of the most exhilarating neck and neck title races we have seen in recent times.

Despite this, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s other relevant officials have already moved to bolster the squad ahead of next year’s challenge, adding talented young forwards Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund and Julian Alvarez from River Plate to the sky blue ranks.

Haaland’s move from the Bundesliga was confirmed last week by the Manchester club, with the Norwegian joining on a five-year deal. On the other hand, Julian Alvarez’s transfer was announced back in January, but the talented Argentine international is yet to be officially presented by the Premier League champions as of yet after remaining on-loan in his native country for the remainder of the campaign.

Now, in the latest update concerning Manchester City’s transfer activity, it appears that their Catalan coach has not only identified his third target of the summer, but the club have also reportedly agreed terms with said player.

Brighton & Hove Albion left-back Marc Cucurella has been selected by Manchester City as their ideal recruit in the position ahead of the coming season, thanks to the former Barcelona academy player’s sparkling maiden season in England with the south coast club.

Cucurella, 23, only joined the Seagulls last summer but has already impressed heavily, winning the club’s player of the season award in the process.

In the potential move’s latest reported developments, the Spanish defender has now agreed on personal terms with Manchester City, according to the information of Football Insider.

The report also reveals that a Manchester City source has said that a full agreement is yet to be reached due to disparities over the price of the player.

It is noted that Manchester City desire Marc Cucurella due to his attacking style and they believe he will be a perfect fit for Pep Guardiola’s style of play.

In his inaugural Premier League campaign, the left back made 38 appearances, registering two assists and scoring one goal, which happened to be against Manchester City’s bitter rivals, Manchester United.

Brighton will be keen to keep Cucurella for themselves, and as many of their current squad as possible, after their impressive ninth place finish in the Premier League table last season.

This has not gone to plan so far for the Seagulls though, as the southern club have already sold key midfielder Yves Bissouma to Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month in a £25 million deal.

Manchester City will look to add a midfielder themselves to their squad, with Leeds defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips identified as a primary name to add to their ranks as cover for top performer Rodri.

The aforementioned Spanish midfielder has so far proven to be the perfect long-term replacement to the recently departed Fernandinho, who left the club this summer after nine years of service to the Etihad Stadium and upon the expiry of his existing contract.

However, at present, the reported information would lead onlookers to believe that the aforementioned Cucurella remains the priority for Manchester City and their chief negotiators for now.

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We’ve got good news to begin the month, as Joao Cancelo puts pen to paper on a new deal which will see him stay at the club for five more years.

As a player who has been somewhat of a journeyman throughout his career, struggling to really find a home in the four or five years before joining City, it’s great to see that he’s been able to consider City somewhere that he can envisage his long term future. Particularly in the middle of a season where he’s been one of the best players in the team by this point.

There were concerns that his enthusiasm for life in Manchester might be dampened when he and his family were attacked in their home in December but I, and every other City fan around, am extremely happy to see him stay. He’s the most complete full-back in world football, capable of the attacking output of a certain scouse full-back, with the defensive capabilities to boot. Plus he can play on either side of the defence. He’s invaluable.

It’s positive on the academy front too, as James McAtee puts a lot of speculation around his future to bed by signing a new contract.

He’s then rewarded for this show of loyalty to the club with 72 minutes of first team football between then at the end of the season. I’m sure he regrets absolutely nothing about his decision as rumours of a loan out to the Championship swirl around him going into the summer window.

Amidst the new deals, there’s also rumours going round that Bernardo is feeling much more happy and comfortable with life in Manchester, presumably helped no end by the pandemic effectively being over at this point as far as restrictions are concerned, and that there are positive feelings around the idea of him signing a new deal.

Has there been any significant update since then? Shh, we don’t need to think about that.

Jack Grealish warms even my cold, dead heart as he greets a fan on entry to the Etihad Stadium, taking some time out of his day to sign a shirt and have a picture with her where many players often don’t in these situations.

I had my reservations about Jack Grealish as a person before signing him, mainly because my opinion of him was mostly informed by tabloids and driving incidents, but we’ve got a good one here. Just a genuinely top lad.

Sergio Aguero gives his first interview about the prospect of Manchester City signing Julian Alvarez and, as one of the greatest Argentinian strikers who’s ever lived, it’s fair to say that his seal of approval immediately convinces me that Alvarez is going to be a much bigger deal than we may have anticipated when we signed this guy.

He also watches Alvarez score for River and, in true Aguero fashion, it’s very entertaining.

On the football front, City follow a comfortable win over Fulham in the FA Cup with a 2-0 win against Brentford and Thomas Frank immediately makes himself an enemy of the people of Liverpool by declaring that it is, in fact, Manchester City who are the greatest team in the world.

Jurgen Klopp then makes himself an enemy of the people of Liverpool by saying that Liverpool aren’t close to City in the title race.

You know what? He’s probably right. Liverpool aren’t going to catch City, because City are just too good.

Ah yes. The Spurs game. A game I’d mercifully managed to wipe from my memory until sitting down to write this piece. I think we can all agree that Manchester City will never, ever go invincible in the Premier League as long as Spurs exist because they appear to have some kind of voodoo curse over us.

Annoyingly, it was Harry Kane who stole the show with two goals, including a painful 95th minute winner after it looked for all the world like Mahrez had snatched a point with a penalty in the 92nd minute. I’m sure he’ll look back on that “scored a late winner against the team that I could have joined the previous summer” trophy when he retires with real fondness, because it’s the only trophy that he’ll have.

Pep then makes the bold claim that the title race isn’t over, which is ridiculous, because it clearly is.

Elsewhere, in the Champions League, City brutally assault Sporting 5-0 in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16, ensuring that we can play the most second string of second string teams in the return leg at the Etihad.

Haaland-watch takes it up a notch once again as City are reported to be favourites to secure the gangly blonde man’s signature. Who needs Harry Kane after all?

Then, at the end of the month, the world is rocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Buckle up, boys, I’m about to criticise Manchester City.

Oleksandr Zinchenko, at 25 years old, has taken much of this burden on himself during the invasion. As the captain of Ukraine’s national team, the way he’s handled himself throughout the entire ordeal, to this day, has endeared him to people up and down the country, and across the world, in a way that he thoroughly deserves.

Zinchenko has had the full backing of his teammates, his manager and the fans. Everybody around the club supports him and feels a huge sense of pride to have him at our football club. It’s a maturity and a steeliness which makes footballers not only great athletes but also great people.

In the political world, UAE abstained from a vote in the UN to condemn Russian action in Ukraine. Do I like it? No. Are there political motivations to do it? Probably, I’m not a geopolitics expert. In a normal world, I’d not even be commenting on this whatsoever because the actions of the UAE government, of which Sheikh Mansour is a Deputy Prime Minister (I can already hear the Sheikh Mansour defence force preparing their replies as I write this), should have absolutely no bearing on what Manchester City do as a football club or how they operate. And 99.99% of the time, this is absolutely true.

I believe it’s no coincidence, however, that whilst the likes of Bayern Munich and Atlético Madrid showed their support for Ukraine on social media, Manchester City have not shown one outwardly public bit of support for Ukraine on their socials. Not even a message of support for Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Search now – look for the word Ukraine, or even a Ukraine flag emoji, from Manchester City since the Russian invasion kicked off and all you’ll find is a few International Round-Ups in which Zinchenko’s service for his national team is mentioned. The football club which the captain of the Ukraine national team plays for has shown zero public support for Ukraine, which to me is absolutely mental.

There can be no explanation for it, in my mind, other than policy, interference, dictating, whatever you want to call it, from the very higher echelons of Manchester City’s ownership structure because their biggest and most visible asset cannot be seen to condemn Russia when it’s inconvenient for them politically. And yes, Sheikh Mansour being the Deputy Prime Minister of UAE means that political policy which affects the nation of UAE is probably his legitimate concern. I’m sorry if that’s inconvenient for you.

I genuinely don’t often think that Sheikh Mansour’s ownership, and the political state of the country that he resides in, has anything to do with Manchester City at all. It’s totally separate in my mind, it’s not something that’s really for me to think about. In this instance, however, it was very obvious that it did have an impact on City.

I’m sure Zinchenko sought, and no doubt received, assurances from the likes of Khaldoon around this time and I’m sure they showed support in plenty of other ways, obviously the players and Pep Guardiola made reference to it in interviews and press conferences, and happily wore shirts to decry the entire thing, but as far as the public-facing side of things from the club is concerned, they showed none.

Genuinely, look at City’s Twitter activity from the day of the Everton game which ends the month. That game was filled with Ukraine support from players and fans, with emotional scenes from Zinchenko and Mykolenko. If you looked at City’s timeline, you’d have no idea it ever happened. And, as a fan, that let me down.

Ending the month on a lighter note, the Everton game which rounded off February was a great source of entertainment, mainly for one single moment which bubbled the bladders of every single scouser across the land.

The best thing about this? This is handball. It’s mental that this wasn’t given. And it’s absolutely glorious.

March – Manchester is blue (again)
Manchester City are drawn against Peterborough in the FA Cup. I’m not sure who Peterborough are though, can anybody help me?

Zinchenko captains the team for the game, in a great show of support by his teammates. City make hard work of it but they win 2-0 in the end.

In some more top Zinchenko content, he gives a passionate, brave interview to the BBC about the situation in Ukraine, cementing himself as one of the important Ukrainian voices in the world as he uses his considerable platform to speak out about Russia’s invasion.

There’s a slight dampener, however, as Ruben Dias picks up an injury which is set to rule him out for the next month or more, including crucial ties against Atlético Madrid in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League.

No Walker and no Dias against Atlético Madrid. This is going to be an interesting one to say the least.

But first, the Manchester Derby against a Ralf Rangnick side in absolute freefall at this point. Needless to say, the battering is glorious but, honestly, there’s almost, almost, something a bit boring about it because United are just so utterly terrible that it’s genuinely expected. They’re basically not trying to put up an opposition. But, of course, it’s United, so it’s hilarious nonetheless.

The first game against United was utter technical brilliance from City and was just a demonstration of how high City have ascended in the decade since Ferguson left them in the lurch. This game, however, was a demonstration of how catastrophically bad things have been allowed to get at United. It’s honestly wonderful. Their failure is so varied and so complete that it simply cannot be matched.

Few City fans embody this joy at United’s downfall quite as much as Micah Richards, who does his best to try and make Roy Keane explode in the Sky Sports studio by constantly laughing as Keane rips into the lack of effort from United’s players.

As if that wasn’t good enough, reports about Haaland start to get louder and louder. Jack Gaughan confirms that City are preparing the finances to activate the buyout clause and that they are very much the frontrunners for the deal to go through should they do so. It’s about to get even better for the blues.

The final game of the month is against Southampton in the FA Cup, with Phil Foden producing a ridiculous finish.

City are through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, where they will face none other than… Liverpool. City’s April starts to look pretty congested, with a four-match run of Atlético, Liverpool, Atlético, Liverpool, across three competitions. Brilliant. Just what we all need – more games against Liverpool.

Liverpool continue to pile through win after win and, as they catch up their games in hand, the table starts to look like we might be close to having a title race after all.

City are through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, where they will face none other than… Liverpool. City’s April starts to look pretty congested, with a four-match run of Atlético, Liverpool, Atlético, Liverpool, across three competitions. Brilliant. Just what we all need – more games against Liverpool.

Liverpool continue to pile through win after win and, as they catch up their games in hand, the table starts to look like we might be close to having a title race after all.

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