It is a mouth watering prospect that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and director of football at the club, Txiki Begiristain are in total agreement on their masterplan to make the club Europe’s dominant team for the next five years. The plan is simple, providing the money is available and at City money is no object. The two senior figures plan to have two top players for every position. For instance, if a defender is out injured Guardiola does not want to move his players around making up for the loss and moving another player into a position where he might not be totally comfortable. Pep wants to have another top flight player ready to step into that position. For example, two top goalkeepers: Ederson and Claudio Bravo compete for the right to be in goal. At centre back City have Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte. In midfield there is David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan with strikers Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez. Pep and Txiki also want the younger players to be challenging their older more experienced players for starting positions so no player can relax and take things easy. All is possible when you have vast amounts of money available from the Middle Eastern owners of the club however it is Pep and Txiki who have the vision. Now that Vincent Kompany has departed, City are already bringing in Harry Maguire and are also looking at Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt to fill his position. As much as United are in transfer disarray, down the road, at City everything is going according to plan. Harry Maguire has had a medical and will sign a contract worth £280,000. Leicester are due to receive a record breaking £80million for a defender which tops the £75million Liverpool paid for Virgil van Dijk who has strengthened the Red’s defence beyond all expectations. United were on course to sign Maguire but they would not match Leicester’s valuation and then Harry himself said he preferred City. Atletico Madrid’s Rodri is also close to signing for City for £62.5million and he is house hunting near Manchester. He is another player able to step into Kompany’s position.
Fans furious Rafa is leaving Newcastle
By the time you read this, Rafa Benitez will have said goodbye to Newcastle fans. I wrote for you a piece a couple of weeks ago in which ex-Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel warned players that being lured to China for big bucks was not the wonderful world they expect it to be. After two years he returned homesick and longing for his family, European food and better conditions and facilities in which to play. Now my worst fears have been realised and Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has finally had enough of club owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley and quit the club this weekend to take up a £12million a year coaching job in China. Newcastle issued a ridiculous statement which said, “We have worked hard to extend Rafa’s contract over a significant period of time, however it has not been – and will not be – possible to reach agreement with Rafa and his representatives.” Although Rafa’s new Chinese contract is worth £12million a year I can tell you for a fact that he did not want to leave Newcastle but his treatment by the club has been disrespectful. It was never about money for himself but more about the amount of money owner Mike Ashley was prepared to invest in a club he wants to sell and Rafa also wanted to change the way in which the club negotiated transfers and he wanted changes to the infrastructure of Newcastle such as the training facilities. The club refused to move on all points. This is going to be a difficult time for Rafa and his family because since his time managing Liverpool his family have settled in the north west of England and have many friends there and his wife Montse runs various charities. His children are happy at school and have a social life. Newcastle fans are heartbroken and angry. Over the past few days they have been protesting outside the ground and giving interviews to radio, TV and newspapers and every one of those criticised the club and supported Rafa. I wish Rafa and his coaching staff, who are leaving with him, all the very best…he is a fine man, a fine coach and deserves to be managing a top six club which Newcastle would have eventually have become under his leadership. Contenders for the post could include Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Laurent Blanc but I am sure none of them would get along with owner Ashley. More likely are Nice manager and Arsenal legend Patrick Viera or Pep Guardiola’s assistant Mikel Arteta. Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Steve Bruce are two other names being mentioned along with Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe. Rangers boss Stephen Gerrard has said he wants more time to develop in Scotland.
Kylian has Liverpool fans in a frenzy!
There was much talk, excitement and hope this week as the world’s most coveted striker Kylian Mbappe revealed on a video that his choice of team to play for is Liverpool! He also revealed that the Red’s manager Jurgen Klopp is someone he admires. After scoring 37 times for Paris St Germain last season this gifted youngster had Liverpool supporters reaching for their mobile phones and found them tweeting “could it be true?” Sorry folks, Kylian was just winding you all up and he will not be moving any time soon…and if he does ever move clubs his price would be astronomic!
Where the big stars holiday
As we are in the summer break it is worth noting where the big football stars go to relax during their time off from football. Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has been out sailing in the US with his mum Nadine and his two-year-old son Thiago. Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is enjoying a holiday in Ibiza with Perrie Edwards, his girlfriend from the music group Little Mix. However, mixing pleasure with business, Alex has also been training hard on the holiday as he tries to force his way back into the Liverpool Champion’s League winning team…he even has an exercise bike in his hotel room. Anthony Martial has left behind his troubles at Manchester United and taken a trip out to Egypt to see the Sphinx of Giza. In complete contrast, Chelsea’s on-loan Crystal Palace striker Michy Batshuayi took a long flight to Japan and is witnessing the chaos of Tokyo. For some peace and quiet to consider his transfer options Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha took time out for a little meditation in Thailand. Probably the most popular destination for party loving footballers and their wives and girlfriends is the Spanish island of Ibiza. Over the last two or three years Peter Crouch, Danny Welbeck, Mario Balotelli, Dele All, Jermaine Defoe, Frank Lampard and even the legendary Diego Maradona have all been seen dancing the night away in the island’s impressive selection of night clubs. Finally the Middle Eastern city of Dubai is attracting more and more football celebrities with West Ham’s Andy Carroll, John Terry, Ryan Giggs and Jesse Lingard enjoying the heat and luxury.