Sunday 18 February 2018

Mancini on Torres trail

City ready to swoop with £70m offer

Rory Smith

MANCHESTER CITY remain hopeful of beating Chelsea and Barcelona to the £70m signing of striker Fernando Torres should he leave Liverpool, says manager Roberto Mancini.

The Spain international is known to be concerned by the financial doubts lingering over his current club and, as manager Roy Hodgson intimated over the weekend, feels let down by a litany of empty promises over forthcoming investment made to him by Liverpool’s hierarchy.

Contrary to suggestions, Torres is yet to make a decision on his future, but Hodgson’s admission that he has done all he can to persuade the player to remain on Merseyside will give both the English and Spanish champions hope that he can be tempted away.

Despite their unrivalled resources, City were thought to be resigned to missing out on Torres, but Mancini is sufficiently confident they can overcome the player’s doubts about moving to another side absent from the Champions League to list the Spanish international alongside Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko as his three alternatives as he seeks attacking reinforcements.

“Torres is one of the best strikers in Europe and already knows the Premier League very well,” he said. “But it depends on his situation, his price and whether he wants to come. There are two or three strikers that we could go for. The choices we have (all over the team) are four or five fantastic players.”

Mancini’s openness is a refreshing change from most of his peers, who are so reticent to discuss any transfer targets for fear of derailing delicate negotiations or inadvertently weakening their bargaining positions. Such is the privilege of wealth.

He was happy effectively to start his own transfer rumour when arriving in New York – suggesting to a delighted American press that Landon Donovan was one possibility – while he is equally frank when it comes to the more realistic matter of James Milner, who is likely to be the subject of a £24m final offer from City.

“He is a very good English player who can play in different positions,” he said. “But every player has their proper price. Every player we ask about, people ask a lot of money.

When City inquire about a £10m player, the club asks for £20m. That is not good for us.” Such is the punishment for wealth.

Despite his rivals’ opportunistic greed, Mancini has enjoyed his summer. He has spent £82m already on David Silva, Yaya Toure, Jerome Boateng and, most recently, Aleksandar Kolarov. Torres and Milner apart, he is likely to augment that with the £33m capture of Mario Balotelli.


Suddenly, a squad who had the air of one built to compete in the Premier League find themselves infused with the sort of class that opponents would do well not to envy. Each position is occupied by two internationals, those who are not home-grown brought in at premium prices.

Football lore dictates, of course, that in such circumstances the cod psychology that convention labels mind games must begin. Manchester United and Chelsea have been particularly assiduous at pointing out how much pressure Mancini, the man pulling the slackened purse strings, and his players are under to deliver silverware this season.

Mancini, though, could not seem more relaxed. Pressure, he insists, does not affect him. Through his stillbroken English, he is adamant that managing City is just his job, a job he knows well. Besides, the torrent of verbiage emanating from Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge says more about the old order than it does about the new.

“I think so,” he said, when asked if Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, the Premier League’s crumbling cartel, are running scared of his ambitious arrivistes. “At the moment, only City are in the market place buying players, but that is normal because we want to improve. I think all the other teams are saying this because for 10 years there were only four teams challenging for the title.

“This year, there are five. I think all these teams over the years have spent a lot of money. Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool.

They were like City are now. There is not a difference.” Money is never far from the conversation where City are concerned. It is money, and the lavish deployment of it, that has come to define the club, that has dominated the thoughts of fans and observers alike this summer, to the extent that Mancini’s head rolls when he is asked in press conferences not about tactics or techniques but transfers. Always transfers. Only transfers.

To Mancini, though, the personnel he acquires in the next five weeks is immaterial. As he says, whether it is Torres or Dzeko, Milner or Mikel Arteta, who arrives to bolster his squad, all of the players City are attempting to procure are of the utmost quality.

To Mancini, what matters is not whom he works with, but what work is done. It is on the training pitch, not the negotiating table, that he will make this his side.

“My philosophy is different from other managers,” he said. “You can do an important job for the whole season in pre-season. Once the season has started, it is hard to do the work you need to during the week. The 13 days before the season starts are the most important.” (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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