All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from the Etihad…
Manchester City will begin their campaign at home to Newcastle United on the weekend of 17 and 18 August, and will follow that with games against Cardiff, Hull and Stoke.
But they are all preludes to the main attraction on the weekend of 21 and 22 September – when Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes will get a very early experience of their first Manchester derby.
The match will be at the Etihad, and while it is far too early to decide the title, it will decide which of the two new managers lays down a marker for what they hope is to come.
City end the season at home to West Ham United, and should they be in the title race with four games to go, they will feel confident of reclaiming the trophy with a relatively easy run-in.
One player who may be there to help them is Spanish midfielder Isco. And this wouldn’t be a City latest without the daily tittle-tattle surrounding the 21-year-old.
It is being reported that any interested club will have to match his release clause of £30million, which isn’t news in itself.
With offers from both City and Real Madrid believed to be on the table, it is likely that fee has already been reached. But perhaps not, if Malaga’s vice-president Moayad Shatat is to be believed.
“If the offers do not match what we are looking for then we will not sell the player,” he said.
“We only sell for the right price – and that price has been set. We have no need to sell if the price is not right.”
The suggestion from Shatat appears to be that no club has yet met the release clause. Unless of course his words were simply to appease his fans before the inevitable happens when Isco returns from holiday.
So desperate are City for Isco that it is being reported they are pulling out of the race to sign Edinson Cavani, in the hope that Real spend the majority of their transfer funds on the Napoli striker.
Of course “pulling out of the race” could also mean realising Cavani has no intention of joining them, following his latest quotes calling the Spanish side a “beautiful club”. But that remains to be seen.
Following quotes earlier this year suggesting that former manager Roberto Mancini was interested in his client, the agent of Lazio defender Stefan Radu has denied that any link remains.
“Neither I nor Lazio know anything of Manchester City’s interest in Radu,” Victor Becali said.
“If City were interested in the player they surely would have called me.”
So that appears to be one defender not destined for the Etihad; although another seems likely to stay.
Stories at the end of last season said that Micah Richards was to be offered a new deal, and it is now being reported that the England defender will open talks over a new four-year contract.
He may only be halfway through his current deal, but Richards is rated highly at the club and his current deal will soon be renegotiated, keeping him at City until at least 2017.
image: © Klapax1