Manchester City in fresh talks with Leicester over signing Riyad Mahrez
Manchester City are in fresh talks with Leicester City about signing Algeria playmaker Riyad Mahrez as Pep Guardiola bids to strengthen his formidable attacking options this summer.
The Premier League champions backed out of a move for Mahrez in January after refusing to meet Leicester City’s demands for a package worth around £90 million but they have maintained their interest and remain hopeful of striking a deal.
Mahrez, who had submitted a transfer request in January in a bid to force through a move, disappeared for nine days but later denied that he had gone Awol after failing to turn up for training.
The 2016 PFA Player of the Year, who was central to Leicester’s extraordinary title success two years ago, is valued at around £60 million although Leicester are also understood to want City’s Patrick Roberts, the forward who has spent the past 18 months on loan at Celtic, in return.
Negotiations for Mahrez are continuing but there have been reports of a deal being delayed by intermediary demands.
“We’d made our decisions from January in terms of what this squad needs this summer, so it will be business as usual,” Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the City chairman, said. “We know the targets that Pep has identified, what he needs, and we will support him in the same way we have supported him since he joined us.
“It’s not going to be about numbers, it’ll be about quality for us this year. We don’t need six or seven. We need one or two additions of quality, high quality to support the squad.”
Guardiola is believed to have had two tiers of forward targets, with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappé, of Paris Saint-Germain, the dream acquisitions, but Mahrez is considered more attainable and still of the requisite quality.
The recruitment of a midfielder is also a priority and Jorginho is hoping Napoli do not attempt to price him out of a move, with the Italy international having set his heart on a transfer to City.
Jorginho’s agent, Joao Santos, is due to hold face-to-face talks with Napoli – who are asking for over £60m – on Wednesday or Thursday next week over the player’s future.
“I’ve not received official offers, but I can’t know if Napoli have received them or not,” Santos told Radio CRC. “On May 30 or 31, I will be in Naples to meet with the club.
“Being coached by [Andrea] Mandorlini, [Rafael] Benítez, [Antonio] Conte and [Maurizio] Sarri in recent years has helped Jorginho grow a lot.
“Will Guardiola be next? Let’s see. He is an extraordinary coach and there is a real chance Jorginho could go to Manchester City.”
Meanwhile, City’s owners face a battle to keep Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal and France midfielder who is tipped as a potential successor to Guardiola, within the club’s parent company, City Football Group.
Vieira is head coach of CFG-owned New York City FC, the MLS franchise, but is attracting strong interest from French clubs Nice and Nantes.
No deal has been reached with either club for Vieira, whose deal with New York expires in December, but he is tempted by the prospect of managing in Europe, even if any decision Vieira makes is likely to be done in consultation with CFG.
“I’m proud of Patrick,” Al-Mubarak told City TV. “We have had a great friendship, he started coaching our academy. He developed and we as an organisation stood by him. When he was ready for the next challenge New York presented itself and he’s started his journey as a first-team coach.
“He has done well and I have a strong belief he will be a great manager. I hope he continues to be part of this group and he has my commitment always.”