City use che­ques to Pep up ti­tle hopes

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

Manch­ester City are us­ing their cheque book to show that dis­ap­point­ing fin­ishes the past two sea­sons won’t be tol­er­ated.

Af­ter com­ing fourth in the Premier League in 2016, things were sup­posed to change last sea­son with new man­ager Pep Guardi­ola. But they didn’t quite work out as City fin­ished a dis­tant third be­hind cham­pi­ons Chelsea and run­ners-up Tot­ten­ham.

Guardi­ola is pre­par­ing for his sec­ond cam­paign by spend­ing freely this sum­mer, al­ready shelling out a re­ported 216 mil­lion pounds (R3670m). That to­tal is rapidly ap­proach­ing the record 219 mil­lion pounds laid out by Real Madrid in 2009, the sum­mer they bought Cris­tiano Ron­aldo from Manch­ester United.

City topped the 200 mil­lion pound bar­rier on Mon­day by sign­ing Monaco de­fender Ben­jamin Mendy for a re­ported 52 mil­lion pounds.

“I am ab­so­lutely de­lighted to be join­ing Manch­ester City,” Mendy said on the club’s web­site. “They are one of Europe’s lead­ing clubs and in Pep Guardi­ola they have a man­ager com­mit­ted to play­ing at­tack­ing foot­ball.

“I am sure that over the next few years we will be suc­cess­ful.”

Mendy be­gan his ca­reer with Le Havre, who cur­rently play in France’s sec­ond tier. He moved to Mar­seille in 2013, where he made 101 ap­pear­ances in three sea­sons and es­tab­lished him­self as one of the best full-backs in France.

He joined Monaco on a fiveyear deal last sea­son, win­ning the Ligue 1 ti­tle in his sole sea­son at the club, which also reached the Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nals.

“Ben­jamin has all the qual­i­ties we are look­ing for in a full-back,” City’s di­rec­tor of foot­ball Txiki Be­giris­tain said.

“For such a young player, he has a wealth of top-level ex­pe­ri­ence. He is un­doubt­edly one of the world’s best full­backs, our num­ber one tar­get in this po­si­tion.”

Mendy will join City, who are pre­par­ing for their sec­ond pre-sea­son tour game against Real Madrid in Los Angeles

The 23-year-old is the lat­est ad­di­tion to a de­fence that was con­sid­ered the club’s Achilles heel last sea­son. He fol­lows right-back Kyle Walker, bought for a fee that could reach 50 mil­lion pounds, goal­keeper Eder­son Mo­raes (35 mil­lion pounds) and de­fender Danilo (26.5 mil­lion pounds), along with mid­fielder Bernardo Silva (43 mil­lion pounds).

And the spend­ing doesn’t fig­ure to stop with more than a month left be­fore the trans­fer win­dow closes.

City are also re­port­edly in­ter­ested in two of the big­gest names on the mar­ket – Arse­nal’s top-scorer Alexis Sanchez and Monaco’s teen sen­sa­tion Kylian Mbappe.

Sanchez may be the more likely op­tion as he is en­ter­ing the fi­nal year of his con­tract and as­pires to play in the Cham­pi­ons League, while Mbappe has also been heav­ily linked with Real Madrid.

On the other side of Manch­ester, prepa­ra­tions are also un­der­way for Jose Mour­inho’s sec­ond sea­son in charge at United.

Romelu Lukaku and Vic­tory Lin­de­lof have al­ready been signed and the club has been linked with Tot­ten­ham’s Eric Dier, Chelsea’s Ne­manja Matic and In­ter Mi­lan’s Ivan Perisic.

Mour­inho wants to bring in two more play­ers but isn’t ready to dis­cuss spe­cific names just yet.

“You know, names is dif­fi­cult for me be­cause as you know the play­ers be­long to clubs, the play­ers they are in pre-sea­sons.” – dpa/Reuters

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