All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from the Etihad…
Following reports that a deal for Alvaro Negredo is close, Manchester City are said to have turned their attention to defensive reinforcements, with Portuguese centre-back Pepe top of their wish-list.
The Real Madrid player has been linked with a move to the Blues for some time, with Manuel Pellegrini reportedly keen to pair him with Vincent Kompany. It is a decision that could have a significant impact on Matija Nastasic, who had an outstanding debut campaign and was expected to improve further next year.
While a new defender is a priority following the departure of Kolo Toure and potential sale of Joleon Lescott, Pepe’s arrival could have a huge impact on the young Serbian’s progress.
At 30, Pepe would be the third man over 26 to join City this summer, suggesting the new boss fully understands the importance of winning trophies in the here-and-now, with the future coming later.
That said, City are reportedly ready to offload Brazilian fullback Maicon after just one season at the club.
The 30-year-old had previously voiced his intention to fight for a regular starting birth next season, but on a wage of £100,000 a week, and with two players ahead of him in the pecking order, Maicon could be gone before he really got going.
Two former City players will be facing each other in Serie A next season, and Mario Balotelli has warned Carlos Tevez to be prepared for some stick when AC Milan face Juventus.
“Tevez is my friend and I told him to come to Milan,” Balotelli said, “but he didn’t listen and went to Juve instead.
“So he should understand where I’m coming from if I take the mick out of him on the pitch.”
It will certainly be interesting when the two come face-to-face for the first time.
One former teammate who could be joining them in Italy is Micah Richards. In the rumour that just won’t go away, the defender continues to be linked with a move away from Manchester.
And now his Italian agent Dario Canovi has spoken of interest from Inter Milan.
“I know that there is interest from Inter for the player,” Canovi said.
“Contact between the two clubs are between them. He had telephone contact with those at Inter, but there is still nothing really concrete.”
It seems highly unlikely that Pellegrini will allow both Maicon and Richards to leave this summer. But as the rumours continue, the England man’s future appears a little less certain.
And finally, Roberto Mancini seems to have come out fighting in recent days, his tongue loosened after a substantial silence following his dismissal at the end of last season.
His latest target is City chief executive Ferran Soriano – clearly not his favourite person.
“I never thought of him as an interesting person from a football perspective,” Mancini said. “We never spoke the same language. And I’m not talking about Italian, Spanish or English.
“His past at Barcelona? I think he was coming from an airline. I’ve been in football since I was 13 and I had never heard anything about Soriano.”
image: © Roger Goraczniak