Manchester City close to beating Liverpool to Marc-Andre ter Stegen's signature
Manchester City are on the verge of clinching an agreement to sign Marc-André ter Stegen from Barcelona ahead of Liverpool.
Both City and Liverpool are understood to have made bids for Ter Stegen, but the 23-year-old favours teaming up with incoming manager Pep Guardiola in Manchester.
Ter Stegen will be the second player after midfielder Ilkay Gundogan to choose Guardiola and City over Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool ahead of the summer transfer window.
It is believed City will pay in the region of £20 million to land Ter Stegen and he will compete with Joe Hart for the number one spot next season, with Willy Caballero set to leave.
England international Hart will no doubt relish the competition, having already seen off the challenge of Caballero who was initially tipped to replace him after being signed by Manuel Pellegrini.
Germany international Ter Stegen joined Barcelona in 2014 from Borussia Mönchengladbach, but has become frustrated with life under Luis Enrique.
Claudio Bravo is first choice in La Liga, with Ter Stegen used in the Champions League and Cop del Rey.
“I don't know what the coach thinks, you have to ask him. I can just say that I want to give my very best,” said Ter Stegen. “That's what I always do – I want to give my best for the team and obviously also for me.
“I hope we reach the next round in the Champions League and win our next game in the league – these are my goals with the team. Obviously I also have personal goals.
“The coach decides the way he decides, I guess he has his reasons to do so. But we will see how this goes on in the future.”
Ter Stegen’s preference to join the Guardiola revolution at City will leave Klopp looking elsewhere for a replacement for error-prone Simon Mignolet.
Meanwhile, City defender Martín Demichelis appeared to be preparing for a fight with the Football Association after being charged with misconduct in relation to betting on football.
Demichelis is accused of committing 12 breaches of FA rules prohibiting players from placing bets on any matches worldwide or gambling on other football-related activity.
Yet the 35-year-old raised the prospect of contesting the charge when he told ESPN FC radio: “When I arrive in England, I am going to talk with the lawyers about the charge I am accused of.”
There is no suggestion of Demichelis being involved in match-fixing or betting on matches in which he was involved. The betting offences are alleged to have occurred between Jan 22 and 28. City are hopeful he will avoid a ban that could rule him out of some or all of the club’s fixtures as they battle to finish in the top four.
Cameron Jerome, the Norwich City striker, escaped with a £50,000 fine in 2013 for breaching betting rules while at Stoke City, and Dan Gosling, the Bournemouth midfielder, was fined £30,000 the following year while at Newcastle United for similar breaches.
But Andros Townsend, the Newcastle United winger, received more severe punishment in June 2013 when he was given a four-month ban, three of which were suspended, for flouting betting regulations while at Tottenham Hotspur. He missed playing for England in the European Under-21 Championship finals.
Demichelis is due to return to Manchester on Thursday after playing for Argentina in their 2-0 World Cup qualifying win against Bolivia in Córdoba on Tuesday evening. He has been given until 5pm next Tuesday to respond to the charge.
City were in discussions on Wednesday with the Professional Footballers’ Association, which is likely to hold talks with Demichelis in the coming days. He is understood to remain available for selection for City’s league game at Bournemouth on Saturday.