Al-Mubarak: City ready for 'phase two' with assault on league title
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak said yesterday that the club's Abu Dhabi owners have always believed that their fourth season in charge -- the next campaign -- was going to be the one in which the club would "really go for it" and that they were ready to make the biggest strides yet.
City are already encountering agents and clubs talking huge figures for players -- including £30m for Alexis Sanchez, the Udinese striker -- and Roberto Mancini faces a challenging summer, with al-Mubarak suggesting only "one or two" signings are needed while the manager wants more.
But though the spending spree is over, al-Mubarak made it clear that third or fourth place is, to Abu Dhabi minds, only a staging post.
"This was fun; this was great -- but believe me the big challenge is next year," al-Mubarak said. "This season has been a good accomplishment, but this sets us up very well for phase two of the progression of this club.
"Phase two starts next (season). Sheikh Mansour always felt that it was going to be year four as the year we were going to go for it. Being fourth is a big accomplishment, (but) this is one step further. We want to win the league."
Al-Mubarak said Mancini had been "very clear" on what the club needed this summer and declared that "the manager will have the final say," but he said there would not be breakneck spending.
Uefa's Financial Fair Play regime was now "driving" the club, insisted the chairman, who said that stadium naming rights were one of the options being examined to help the club reduce last year's £121m losses, which are expected to rise when the next financial statement is published in October.
The £30m that Udinese owner Giampaolo Pozzo will want for Sanchez also reflects the challenging weeks ahead for City. Pozzo has established the kind of scouting model that City are attempting to introduce, typically investing in promising teenager players, which the club then sell on for a huge mark-up.
Chilean Sanchez was signed for $3m in 2006 from his native country's club Cobreloa, loaned to Colo-Colo and then to River Plate in Argentina. Prising him away will be more difficult if Udinese, currently fourth in Serie A, secure Champions League football by securing a draw at home to champions Milan this weekend.
Edinson Cavani, the Napoli forward, has also been in City's sights, albeit for £50m, though prospects of a move for the player have faded after he concluded negotiations on deal designed to keep him at the club until 2016. (© Independent News Service)