Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is targeting some big names
City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has admitted there was “nothing to celebrate” after a disappointing trophy-less first season under the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.
But he insists progress was made in terms of playing style and Guardiola, who spent £160m last summer, will be backed heavily again in the transfer market by the club’s Abu Dhabi owner Sheikh Mansour as City strengthen their squad in a bid to recapture the Premier League title and lift the Champions League for the first time.
Guardiola has wasted no time dipping into the fund by signing midfielder Bernardo Silva from Monaco for £43m while Ederson, who had a medical yesterday, will today become the world’s most expensive goalkeeper by completing a £33m move from Benfica.
But Khaldoon says that will not be the end of the buying. City are also tracking Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy, Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker, Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci and Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.
He said: “Pep has introduced a new way of playing for us, an exciting way but a way that requires work and which requires a set of players that I think function within that system. If I look back at this season that puzzle wasn’t complete and I hope this summer we support Pep in competing that puzzle.
“We are going to go and get some of the best talent in the world to be part of this strategy we have been pursuing.
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola reunited in the Manchester derby Thu, April 27, 2017
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Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were reunited on the touchline…
If I look back at this season that puzzle wasn’t complete and I hope this summer we support Pep in competing that puzzle
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak
“I think the transition of this squad in this cycle started last year. And if you look at the players we brought in last year, we brought in youth, talent, speed.
“I think you will see us continue in the same range of players in terms of numbers that we have done in the past plus or minus.
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“There are particular positions that are clear. You can see the players that are exiting right now, and that will give a clear indication of the positions that are a high priority for us to fill.”
The Manchester City boss has already embarked on a drastic squad overhaul. Five players have already left at the end of their contracts – Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Jesus Navas and Willy Cabellero.
Real Betis target Nolito and Kelechi Iheanacho, who is wanted by West Ham, as well as players who spent last season out on loan like Joe Hart, Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony, Eliaquim Mangala and Jason Denayer will all join the exodus.
But one player who will not be leaving is leading scorer Sergio Aguero while Khaldoon hopes Yaya Toure will sign a year’s extension to his contract.
He made it clear however that third place in the Premier League is not good enough.
“There’s nothing that annoys me more than people either calling me or sending me a message congratulating me on third place," he added in his end-of-season review. "My answer was pretty standard to everyone: ‘Don’t congratulate me on getting third, there’s nothing to congratulate. Only congratulate me if we win the league’.
“So, this is not the ambition, not at all. There’s nothing to celebrate.
“We are a team now that expects to win every year at least one trophy. And then to go further every year in the Champions League. So from that perspective the season has been a disappointment.”
“But if you look at it from a different lens we are truly going in a direction that is positive. I am very excited about how we are developing as a team, how Pep has taken the squad and really started a process of going through that natural cycle of development.
“You’ve seen many glimpses of us playing a type of football that is very exciting and very entertaining that I think the fans will grow to love and the results will come – I have no doubts the results will come.”