Monday 19 February 2018

Manchester City in advanced talks with Benfica over world-record £35m deal for goalkeeper Ederson

Ederson has been linked to Manchester City
Ederson has been linked to Manchester City

James Ducker

Manchester City are in advanced talks with Benfica over a potential world-record £35 million deal for goalkeeper Ederson Moraes as Pep Guardiola prepares to make another huge splash in the transfer market.

Guardiola began the process of overhauling his squad last week by offloading five players and signing Portugal playmaker Bernardo Silva from Monaco for £43.6 million. 

And now the City manager is bidding to address his team's glaring problems in goal during a tough debut season in England with the impending recruitment of Ederson, a move that will signal the end of Joe Hart's 11-year career with the club and likely relegate Claudio Bravo to second choice next season.

Suggestions that a deal for Ederson, 23, could be announced as early as Monday are thought to be premature as City continue to work through the complexities of third-party ownership issues.

But it is likely that the final fee for the Brazil Under-23 goalkeeper could eclipse the £32.6 million that Juventus paid Parma for Italy No 1 Gianluigi Buffon in 2001.

When asked about City's interest after Benfica's 2-1 victory over Vitoria de Guimaraes in the Portuguese cup final on Sunday night, Ederson admitted he is unlikely to play for the Portuguese club again. "I still do not know, but this was probably my last match with Benfica," he told Record newspaper.

Negotiations have been complicated by the three-way ownership of Ederson's economic rights between Benfica, Rio Ave, Ederson's former club, and Gestifute, the agency run by Jorge Mendes. Fifa banned third-party ownership in May 2015 but ruled that "existing arrangements can remain in place until their ordinary contractual expiry".

Antonio Silva Campos, the president of Rio Ave, offered details about the arrangement last Wednesday.

“Rio Ave holds 30 per cent of the player’s rights and Gestifute the other 20 per cent," Campos said.

“We know from the media that there is interest from several clubs in Ederson, but I do not know anything concrete and although there has been a lot of expectation, there is nothing firm and no proposals have yet arrived at Rio Ave. I am waiting for communication from Benfica.”

The goalkeeper position provided arguably the biggest headache for Guardiola last season, with Bravo struggling badly during his first season in England after signing from Barcelona for an initial £13.75 million as Hart's replacement.

Although there was a personality clash with Hart, Guardiola wanted a goalkeeper who was better with his feet than the England No 1 and turned to Bravo after his Barcelona team-mate, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, rejected the chance to move to City.

But for all Bravo's ability with his feet, his poor handling and shot stopping became a serious problem and he was eventually dropped for Willy Caballero, who will leave City next month when his contract expires.

Bravo has vowed to fight for his place but Guardiola wanted a new No 1 and believes Ederson is one of the most outstanding young goalkeepers in Europe. Ederson - who is 6ft 2in - has won admirers for the quality of his distribution and all-round ability, with Guardiola hopeful he will provide greater security at the back as part of a complete overhaul of his defence.

The arrival of Ederson would spell the end for Hart, who already accepts he has no future at City. The England goalkeeper endured an error-strewn season on loan at Torino, but there are several clubs interested in him.

City also plan to sign two full-backs and a centre half. Guardiola is optimistic about signing France left-back Benjamin Mendy in another raid on Monaco but no deal is yet in place and the French champions ideally want to keep him, even if they may be facing a losing battle given the intense interest.

Manchester United are also interested in Mendy - Liverpool and Chelsea have been linked, too - and City have been keen to move quickly on targets to avert them joining rivals and to give the players as much time as possible to bed in before the new season. Spurs right-back Kyle Walker and Juventus central defender Leonardo Bonucci are also targets.

City have also been heavily linked with Monaco midfielder Fabinho, who can also play at right-back, although getting three players out of Monaco in one summer would be a considerable coup.

Meanwhile, Yaya Toure is thought to be moving closer to signing a new one-year contract with City. The 34 year-old wants to stay and has been offered a 12-month extension, on reduced terms, after an impressive campaign since he returned from being exiled by Guardiola following a spat between the manager and the Ivorian's controversial agent, Dimitri Seluk.

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