City on Uefa watch list af­ter spree

Premier League club and PSG are un­der scru­tiny Free-spend­ing sides could breach fi­nan­cial fair play

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By James Ducker in Nashville

Manchester City are back on Uefa’s fi­nan­cial watch list af­ter their £220 mil­lion spend­ing spree this sum­mer.

City and Paris St-Ger­main were fined for breach­ing Uefa’s Fi­nan­cial Fair Play rules three years ago and the two clubs’ ac­tiv­ity in this sum­mer’s win­dow is be­ing scru­ti­nised again.

Pep Guardi­ola could take his spend­ing to around the £300mil­lion mark if he man­ages to sign £60mil­lion-rated Chilean for­ward Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal and bring in an­other cen­tre­half. City are also pre­pared to ri­val Real Madrid for the £161 mil­lion pur­chase of Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe in the event they can­not per­suade Arsenal to sell Sanchez, a move that would push their spend­ing closer to £400 mil­lion.

PSG have spent only £13.5mil­lion so far on left-back Yuri Ber­chiche from Real So­ciedad and signed right-back Dani Alves on a free trans­fer from Ju­ven­tus. But the French club are pre­pared to break the world trans­fer record by meet­ing the £196 mil­lion re­lease clause in Brazil for­ward Ney­mar’s con­tract with Barcelona.

Both City and PSG have to tread care­fully be­cause a se­cond breach of FFP would leave them open to more se­vere pun­ish­ment from Uefa, in­clud­ing a ban from Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.

City, who spent more than £170mil­lion in the trans­fer mar­ket last sum­mer, recorded a £20.5 mil­lion profit on record rev­enues of £391.8mil­lion for the 2015/2016 sea­son. Clubs can be granted spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion to run up big­ger losses than those al­lowed un­der Uefa guide­lines but that does not ap­ply to teams pun­ished in the past three years un­der FFP.

This week Manchester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho called on Uefa to get tough and claimed FFP had “big work to do be­cause prob­a­bly there are some strate­gies of dis­guise”. “We don’t make a dis­tinc­tion, all clubs are treated in the same way,” said An­drea Traverso, who heads up FFP. “PSG and Manchester City have been pun­ished, but I can tell you In­ter Mi­lan and Roma have been re­stricted too.

“It’s been a long time since 2014 when the rules had just been in­tro- duced. Now, ev­ery­one knows them well. PSG are no longer un­der those re­stric­tions, but that doesn’t mean they can start to do what they want.

“They must re­spect fi­nan­cial fair play reg­u­la­tions, just like ev­ery­one else in Europe. They must show they can have losses that do not go be­yond €30mil­lion [£26.8mil­lion] over three years. I’m con­vinced that ev­ery­thing will be done within the rules. But I un­der­stand very well that some peo­ple are ask­ing them­selves ques­tions.”

Guardi­ola had ridiculed re­ports in March that said City could sign at least six play­ers this sum­mer and al­low more than a dozen to leave the club by say­ing: “I am go­ing to as­sure you it’s im­pos­si­ble to do that.”

How­ever, that is ex­actly what is ma­te­ri­al­is­ing dur­ing a sum­mer of huge up­heaval that could even­tu­ally re­sult in a turnover of up to 25 play­ers. City have made six sign­ings so far with goal­keeper Eder­son Mo­raes, de­fend­ers Kyle Walker, Ben­jamin Mendy and Da- nilo and mid­field­ers Bernardo Silva and Dou­glas Luiz, and want to bring in at least two more.

Ten play­ers have been sold or re­leased for a com­bined sum of £42 mil­lion while Joe Hart has been loaned to West Ham and the num­ber of de­par­tures could swell to 18 if Eliaquim Mangala, Wil­fried Bony, Fabian Delph, Fer­nando, Samir Nasri, Kelechi Iheana­cho and Ja­son De­nayer all go as ex­pected as City shed the dead wood. France de­fender Mangala has turned down a move to Spar­tak Moscow but mid­fielder Fer­nando should com­plete a £4.5mil­lion move to Galatasaray next week and Delph and Bony could join Stoke and Swansea re­spec­tively. Iheana­cho is ex­pected to move to Le­ices­ter for £25mil­lion.

Eng­land’s hunger Mid­field mae­stro Jor­dan Nobbs on her team’s fight­ing spirit as they chase a semi-fi­nal place when they take on France to­day

Jor­dan Nobbs is a fan­tas­tic foot­baller, the best in the coun­try ac­cord­ing to her peers, a fu­ture cap­tain of the na­tional team and the cre­ative spark that has ig­nited Eng­land at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship. Yet you prob­a­bly would not recog­nise her even if you were shar­ing a lift.

She will never be a mil­lion­aire – the very sug­ges­tion makes her laugh. Top women play­ers are on £35,000 a year – a frac­tion of the weekly wage of their top male coun­ter­parts. She will not be able to re­tire when her play­ing ca­reer is over and she will never know a celebrity life­style.

Per­haps that is why, at the age of 24, the Arsenal player has an un­quench­able thirst for im­prove­ment. Maybe that is why the women’s team have made such vast progress over the last few years. There is a hunger and a de­ter­mi­na­tion that, un­like with their male coun­ter­parts, has been undimmed by pre­ma­ture fi­nan­cial re­wards.

It is a com­par­i­son Nobbs does not like to dwell on, be­cause it is, as far as she is con­cerned, a fu­tile de­bate. Yet, for those who have wit­nessed so many young English­men fail to re­alise their po­ten­tial, it re­mains a per­ti­nent one.

When the Lionesses fin­ished third at the World Cup two years ago, they took a huge step for­ward. But rather than con­grat­u­late them­selves on that achieve­ment, they im­me­di­ately turned their at­ten­tion to sur­pass­ing it at the Eu­ros.

With three wins out of three to top their group, they take on France in the quar­ter-fi­nal to­day, a team they have not beaten since 1974. But this feels like a dif­fer­ent Eng­land.

“The hunger is there,” said Nobbs, whose fa­ther Keith was a nonon­sense, bruis­ing cen­tre-back for Hartle­pool United. “There are a few of us who won the Un­der-19s Eu­ros and, even as kids, we had that de­ter­mi­na­tion and drive. We’ve kept that with us at se­nior level, we’ve not changed since we were kids and I truly be­lieve that is why we are where we are now. We be­lieve in our­selves and we be­lieve in be­ing win­ners, to push our­selves to be­ing the very best.

“I want to be pushed as a player, chal­lenged. I want to get bet­ter, I’m not the fin­ished ar­ti­cle at 24. There are still im­prove­ments to be made. I had to leave Sun­der­land when I was young be­cause they didn’t get into the Su­per League. I had to join a club like Arsenal, but I knew that would bring out the best in me. I think we’re all like that. I don’t think I’ll ever be a multi-mil­lion­aire. For the men, it’s dif­fer­ent. I sup­pose the fact they get so much money, so young, it could make you lose that hunger, but it’s dif­fi­cult for me to judge some­thing like that.

“It’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent game, I don’t re­ally like to draw com­par­isons.

‘‘It is very hard to com­pare men’s and women’s foot­ball. We just want to have our own sport, re­ally. If we start com­par­ing the money in foot­ball, it would be silly.

“They do get the tele­vi­sion cov­er­age and fans in huge num­bers, I think all we can do is re­ally push the women’s game as much as we can.

“If one day, it does be­come that big, hope­fully we can keep the same drive in the young kids who have tal­ent. You have to keep that in­ner drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion, or you won’t be suc­cess­ful, ei­ther as a team or as an in­di­vid­ual. I don’t see that chang­ing for the women’s game.”

It would be a trav­esty if it did, but the women’s game has never been in a bet­ter place in Eng­land. There are more peo­ple watch­ing than ever be­fore – 2.3mil­lion have tuned in to Chan­nel 4 for each of the group games, a sig­nif­i­cant rise on the fig­ures for the World Cup – and the na­tional team have never played so well.

When Mark Samp­son’s team trav­elled to Hol­land, they were talked about as po­ten­tial win­ners but, more im­por­tantly, as they pre­pare to take on their old neme­sis France, they have played like it too. From the mo­ment they ar­rived, the Lionesses have Hun­gry for suc­cess: Jor­dan Nobbs is con­fi­dent Eng­land can beat France for the first time since 1974 to­day swag­gered. They saun­tered their way through the first three games, flaunt­ing their tal­ent against Scot­land, grind­ing out a re­sult against Spain, be­fore a rou­tine win over Por­tu­gal to fin­ish top of Group D.

Through­out it all they have main­tained an air of steely de­ter­mi­na­tion. Each win has been greeted by muted cel­e­bra­tions, their joy short-lived. Af­ter three games only half the job is done and France will be the best team they have faced so far.

“We have a very sim­i­lar team to the one that went to the World Cup,” ex­plained Nobbs. “But even though we came out of that hav­ing per­formed well, we are two years fur­ther down the line and we have im­proved a lot.

“I think this is the first time we truly be­lieve we can win a tour­na­ment. I think peo­ple are re­ally fear­ing Eng­land in this tour­na­ment and we’re in a re­ally good place as a group. To win all three of our group games, it shows how hard we have been work­ing.

“We are con­fi­dent and we wouldn’t be this con­fi­dent if we didn’t think it was a re­al­is­tic goal. The play­ers we have, the sup­port sys­tem we have in the staff, it’s been ter­rific. We know we can win this tour­na­ment and I think with our per­for­mances we have shown we can beat the best teams in the world.

“I just think if you don’t be­lieve, you’re bluff­ing and you’re go­ing to be found out in the end. It’s not just what we have done in Hol­land, it’s what we have been do­ing over the last cou­ple of years.

“We’re not fazed by hav­ing to play France. We’re ready. What­ever chal­lenges come our way, we are ready to face it. Mark’s tac­tics are spot

‘I don’t think I’ll ever be a multi-mil­lion­aire like the men. If we start com­par­ing money it is just silly’

Record deal: Kyle Walker is the world’s costli­est de­fender af­ter a £50m move from Spurs to City

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