Manchester City keen to complete $54 million deal for Eliaquim Mangala

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Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City are determined to do some business in the transfer market before the new season begins.

City, who clinched their second PL title in three seasons last time out, have made small moves this summer compared to England’s other powerhouses. Bacary Sagna has arrived on a free transfer, Fernando has joined from Porto for $19 million, Frank Lampard has joined on loan from New York City FC, back up goalkeeper Willy Caballero has signed from Malaga and Argentine midfielder Bruno Zuculini is on board.

Hardly blockbuster moves, so far.

Now City are stepping up their pursuit of French international defender Eliaquim Mangala, as they close in on a $54 million move for the FC Porto center back.

Speaking after Man City’s 3-0 Community Shield defeat on Sunday, manager Manuel Pellegrini told BT Sport that “some papers are maybe missing but we continue having interest in the player [Mangala], he wants to come so we will see what happens in the week.”

The towering 6 foot 2 defender has long been rumored with a switch to City as the 23-year-old has impressed with Porto over the past three seasons. Right now City have captain Vincent Kompany and Argentine Martin Demichelis at center back, with Serbian Matija Nastasic as back up. Adding Mangala into the mix would almost certainly see him partner Kompany in the heart of City’s defense and Demichelis could become a bit-part player, despite his superb end to the season with City (after a rocky start) and Argentina at the World Cup.

Mangala went to the World Cup with France this summer but did not make an appearance for Didier Deschamps side in Brazil. Regardless, he would provide Pellegrini with some great cover at the center back position after they let Joleon Lescott go this summer, with City expected to go deep in the UEFA Champions League this season while defending their PL crown.

With several of City’s key defenders missing from the Community Shield drubbing against Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday, you could see that their second string defenders aren’t quite up to the top level. More quality is needed at the back as City aim to kick on and challenge for every trophy going in 2014-15.

If they do sign Mangala, he will be at the heart of their defense for the foreseeable future.

2-year doping ban upheld for Finland, CSKA Moscow player

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a two-year ban for CSKA Moscow midfielder Roman Eremenko for a positive test for cocaine.

[ MORE: Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

CAS says the ban imposed by UEFA was “appropriate” and dismissed the Finland international’s appeal.

[ MORE: Vertonghen says Spurs need to “level up” like rest of PL contenders ]

The ban will expire on Oct. 5, 2018, when Eremenko will be 31.

Eremenko tested positive after playing in a Champions League game for CSKA Moscow against Bayer Leverkusen last September. The 2-2 result was not affected despite Eremenko scoring CSKA’s second goal.

Born in Moscow, Eremenko grew up in Finland and has represented its national team 73 times.

Webb says De Jong would have been sent off with video review

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NEW YORK (AP) Howard Webb says he would have given Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong a red card in the 2010 World Cup final if a video assistant referee had been in place.

The retired English referee showed De Jong a yellow card in the 28th minute for his karate kick into the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso. Hired in March to oversee video technology for professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada, Webb held a media seminar Friday ahead of its Aug. 5 launch in Major League Soccer.

Webb says: “Yes, it was a clear red card. It was a clear and obvious error on my part not to send the player off, and VAR would have been able to recommend a review to me, and I would have been able to make the right call.”

Now 46, Webb was a Premier League referee from 2003-14. He worked the Champions League and World Cup finals in 2010, became director of referees at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and started in March as manager of video assistant referee operations for the Professional Referee Organization.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City 0-1 Atlanta United (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Friday night’s effort at Orlando City Stadium wasn’t the prettiest for either side but Atlanta United will gladly take three points from the fixture as the Central Florida venue proved to be a fortress once more. The Lions were far superior in their attacking threats throughout the match, testing USMNT and Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan on multiple occasions. However, it was Hector Villalba that proved to be the difference when he blasted a long-distance effort to beat Joe Bendik in the 86th minute. Atlanta extends its unbeaten streak to four matches with Friday’s decision, keeping Tata Martino’s side in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, while Orlando City moves into fifth.

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Guzan stands tall, denies Rivas — Carlos Rivas thought he scorched this one (and he did…), but Brad Guzan acted like it was nothing as he held his ground to make the stop.

39′ — Spector gets ripped off by Guzan — The U.S. goalkeeper is at it again… What a save!

86′ — Villalba unleashes stunner to propel Atlanta — Sometimes it just takes one good hit as a striker.

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Man of the match: Brad Guzan

Goalscorers: Hector Villalba (86′)

Report: Man City adding Mendy to continue backline restoration

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Fresh off of completing a record deal to help bolster the club’s back line this summer, Manchester City is back at it with the Premier League season looming.

[ MORE: Alvaro Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

The Citizens are reportedly on the brink of signing Monaco left back Benjamin Mendy to yet another world-record fee — which will total over $67 million.

Confirmation of the deal has yet to be announced by either team, but L’Equipe is reporting that the Citizens are hot on the 23-year-old’s trail in adding to their pricy back four.

Manager Pep Guardiola and Man City have not been shy readjusting their defensive unit over the past year, adding expensive first-team choices John Stones and Kyle Walker.