City step up preparation for Real clash as talks continue over Torres
Manchester City plan to play a behind-closed-doors friendly this weekend in preparation for next week’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid, as negotiations continue with Valencia over a deal for Ferran Torres, the Spain Under-21 winger.
City’s players are due to return tomorrow for the start of an intensive training period leading up to the second leg of their last-16 tie against the Spanish champions at the Etihad Stadium on Friday week.
Pep Guardiola is taking no chances ahead of the Real game as he seeks to take advantage of his side’s 2-1 win in the first leg in the hope of setting up a quarter-final against Juventus or Lyon in Lisbon.
City’s preparations are also likely to involve a friendly at the club’s training base or the Etihad as Guardiola attempts to maintain fitness levels and competition.
“Everyone wants to play in that game [against Real] – they are training for that,” Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, said.
Guardiola said he would watch all of Real’s 11 La Liga games since lockdown in addition to those matches they have played without Sergio Ramos, their captain, who is suspended because of his red card in the first game against City.
Kevin De Bruyne, the City midfielder, said. “Now we’ve a couple of days to recover and then 10 days of full training and just preparing ourselves for the big game. If we do well we have four games left, but if we do really bad then it’s just one.”
Begiristain is pressing ahead with City’s rebuilding plans for next season and Torres could be their first arrival. The winger is eager to join, as a replacement for the departed Leroy Sane, but Valencia are holding out for £40million for the player, who has entered the final 12 months of his contract.
City are also pursuing a deal for Nathan Ake, the Bournemouth defender, and another centre-back should John Stones and/or Nicolas Otamendi leave. Guardiola would also like a left-back.
“We are working a lot, we have to be ready,” Begiristain said. “It will be a strange window. We have to bring in players who can improve our squad, but also it means that maybe someone can leave.”