Manchester: Manchester City are to press ahead with a £40 million bid for Napoli striker Edinson Cavani after accepting that Radamel Falcao is likely to join either Chelsea or Real Madrid.
City have also been pursuing Brazil forward Neymar, who is wanted, in particular, by the club’s director of football Txiki Begiristain but could lose out to Barcelona. There will be an attempted overhaul of City’s squad at the end of the season which could be more radical if Roberto Mancini is replaced as manager.
Cavani is one of the most coveted strikers in Europe, as is Falcao, and Napoli have already claimed to have rejected a big offer from City for the 25-year-old Uruguayan. Mancini had first attempted to secure Falcao, even travelling to Madrid to hold talks with the Atletico Madrid striker’s representatives, but City are behind in the race. City want to sell striker Edin Dzeko, who is likely to return to the Bundesliga, although there has been some tentative interest from Tottenham Hotspur.
City also want Joleon Lescott to leave and he could, potentially, form part of a player-plus-cash deal to try and sign Everton’s Marouane Fellaini. Fellaini is not a priority for City at present as the club’s hierarchy are targeting a striker and a central defender. But with a £25 million buy-out clause in his contract and his representatives busily trying to interest other clubs, including Chelsea, there is an expectation that he could leave Goodison Park. There is also the possibility that City will look for buyers for other players including Javi Garcia and Samir Nasri who was criticised by the manager on Friday. City will also make instant savings with the contracts of Roque Santa Cruz, Wayne Bridge and Kolo Toure expiring.
Whether Mancini will remain at City is in doubt despite his continued protestations that he continues to enjoy the full support of the club’s owners. He is set to miss out on his targets - retaining the Premier League title and qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League - for this season and although City do not want to copy the hire-and-fire pattern set by Chelsea, there are concerns.
Mancini is also not a particularly popular character among the players and although he enjoys the backing of the club’s fans there have been rumblings of discontent from within City. Roma are already hoping that fresh investment plus a friendship with general manager Franco Baldini will persuade Mancini to join the Italian club this summer should he leave City. Baldini is close to Mancini and there is also fresh investment being pumped into Roma from Qatar. Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini, who is on Chelsea’s shortlist of targets, has refuted suggestions that he had a verbal agreement to take over at City which followed on from the club dismissing claims as “wild speculation”. But even though Mancini signed a new deal last year, when he feared that he might be sacked should he fail to win the Premier League title, the arrival of a new power axis of Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano has cast doubt over his future especially as it appears that City’s chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak has allowed the Spaniards’ to shape the future direction of the club.
Although City do not want to carry on spending heavily, and are serious in their intent to comply with the incoming Uefa Financial Fair Play rules, there is the possibility of significant changes this summer should they manage to move on some of the squad. Ahead of Sunday’s league meeting at home to Chelsea, Mancini said: “I think we need to improve our team. This is true it’s important to focus on the players that are good for us. I don’t know if that’s three, five, six, nine, one, it’s difficult to say this now.”
Mancini also claimed that Manchester United do not deserve to be so far ahead of City at the top of the Premier League and have been fortunate this season. “Until now they have been really lucky with everything. They have won a lot of games in the last minute. Even against us when they probably deserved to lose, they won in the last second. I don’t think the gap is a correct one at the moment. But they did better than us for sure.”