Tuesday 25 July 2017

City looking to wrap up £30m Dzeko deal within a week

Mark Ogden

Manchester City are aiming to complete a £30m deal for Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko within seven days following high-level talks between the clubs.

Despite Wolfsburg's long-standing resistance to offers for the Bosnia international, who has scored 84 goals in 142 games for the 2008-09 Bundesliga champions, transfer talks are understood to be progressing well.

An agreement has yet to be reached with the player and his representatives but after Dzeko made it clear to City in an email in August that Eastlands was his preferred destination, the club are confident that the move will go ahead. Dzeko (24) has been a City target for the past 18 months having been identified by former manager Mark Hughes, but the club's determination to secure his services hardened earlier this month during the week-long stand-off with captain Carlos Tevez.

Although Tevez has withdrawn his transfer request, the signing of Dzeko would give City protection and depth should the Argentine become unsettled again in the second half of the campaign.

Wolfsburg's refusal to lower their £42m valuation of Dzeko in the summer prompted City to abandon their pursuit of the Sarajevo-born forward. But Wolfsburg's struggles in the Bundesliga this season have all but ended hopes of Champions League qualification next season, ensuring that the club are now ready to cash in on their main asset.

Dzeko's likely arrival will signal the departure of Roque Santa Cruz, who is the subject of interest from Lazio on loan with a view to a permanent move at the end of the season.

City's Nigel de Jong claims his troubled six months, during which he was vilified for a World Cup final kung-fu kick on Spain's Xabi Alonso before breaking the leg of Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa in October, can be a lesson for unsettled forward Mario Balotelli.

The 20-year-old, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 win against Aston Villa on Tuesday, continues to struggle to adapt to the English lifestyle and has spoken of his desire to return to Italy to play for AC Milan.

But Dutch midfielder De Jong insists that Balotelli can thrive in England once he develops the same mental strength that enabled him to overcome criticism for the Alonso and Ben Arfa incidents.

"Everything is a mental thing and about character. What doesn't break you can't kill you and that's what I have tried to tell Mario," said De Jong.

"Just try to do your best and let other people talk about you. It's not about changing your game, it's about getting your head down on the pitch. It's about talking with your feet and less with your mouth.

"He is still a young lad and he is coming back from a difficult couple of weeks, but he is still here and the team is there to help him."

Meanwhile, City manager Roberto Mancini has claimed in an interview in 'Gazzetta dello Sport' that referees are "prejudiced" against his team.

With City at the foot of the Premier League's disciplinary table, Mancini said: "I have the impression that referees are prejudiced, to say the least, with City and I do not understand why.

"At least two of the cautions (against Newcastle on St Stephen's Day) were excessive. We do not play a hard game and, every time, we try to play good football." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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