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Mahrez, Man City share No. 1 goal: Win Champions League

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After winning the Premier League in historically dominant fashion last season — Pep Guardiola‘s second at the club — every new signing Manchester City make from here on out will be made, and judged, with one goal in mind: winning the UEFA Champions League.

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Guardiola and Co., won’t be splashing out $80 million for a player with the lowly intent of consolidating domestic power and merely hanging on to the PL title, Riyad Mahrez, who completed his transfer from Leicester City for that very fee on Tuesday, knows it. It’s why he’s at the club.

Having already led the Foxes to the unlikeliest of PL titles two seasons ago, Mahrez has bigger fish to fry, and his targets are perfectly aligned with those of his new employer — quotes from the BBC and the Guardian:

“The Champions League is for big clubs, they’re a big club, they have everything to try to win it.

“City have ambition to go further than the Champions League quarterfinals like they did last season. I made the decision to come here because I want to be part of that.

“Pep [Guardiola] is a big manager, he’s won a lot of things and made history with this club. I’ll give my best to achieve for the club.”

“I haven’t talked about my precise position with the manager yet, but City wanted me and that means a lot. The price tag doesn’t affect me — fees for players have got very big in the last couple of years. I am very happy to be here and will try to give my best for the club. I thought what City did last year was amazing, it was unbelievable to break all those Premier League records, but I am confident about myself. I want to help this team improve and I believe that is what the manager wants.”

“Players at top clubs always have to face competition for places, it is normal for big clubs to have a lot of great players and City are a big club with a big manager.”

Mahrez is an ideal signing for a side with Man City’s ambitions and embarrassment of mega-bucks talent. Sure, he cost the club $80 million — a club-record fee — and you can say that he won’t get enough games with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, David Silva and Bernardo Silva also in the team, but injuries will inevitably rear their ugly heads, and Mahrez’s presence will make City two-deep at three positions behind strikers Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero.

[ MORE: Mourinho: England needs to keep coaches for next World Cup ]

The goal is to win the Champions League while retaining the PL title as an absolute bare minimum expectation. They made it look easy in 2017-18, but their pursuit of all-time records likely played a part in coming up short in European competition. City have an unfair advantage in terms of resources and weapons, but winning a treble (or a quadruple) would amount to a massively unfair achievement.

Man City sign Mahrez for club-record fee

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City has signed Riyad Mahrez for a club-record $80 million as it further strengthens its team after winning the Premier League title.

[ MORE: France advance to World Cup final | England vs. Croatia preview ]

The 27-year-old Algeria winger was an integral part of Leicester’s astonishing run to the title in 2016, but has been pushing to leave the central England club for a year.

Pep Guardiola’s City, which won the league by 19 points in May, confirmed Tuesday evening that Mahrez has signed a five-year contract.

Mahrez will go down as one of the bargains of the Premier League era, having joined Leicester for a reported $530,000 from French club Le Havre in 2014.

Scoring 17 goals in Leicester’s title-winning campaign saw Mahrez voted as player of the year in England in 2016.

[ MORE: England “building belief” beyond World Cup ]

“I am so pleased to have joined City, a side playing great football under Pep Guardiola. They’re redefining the English game and I wanted to be a part of it,” Mahrez said on City’s website.

“Watching them from afar has been a pleasure. Pep is committed to playing attacking football, which is a perfect for me, and City’s performances last season were outstanding … I believe my own game can develop under Pep’s management.”

City director of football Txiki Begiristain said Mahrez “beats defenders and creates space … We’re sure he will bring additional attacking quality to our squad.”

Mahrez helped Leicester to a shock league title, and then played a major role in the club reaching the Champions League quarterfinals the following season.

He made 180 appearances for Leicester, scoring 48 goals.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mahrez to Man City nearly complete, Arsenal adds Torreira, and more

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Riyad Mahrez is finally getting his big money move.

According to multiple reports in England, Mahrez is closer than ever to completing a long-reported $80 million transfer move to Manchester City, where he’ll join the Premier League champion as it looks to repeat in the league and finally win the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

The Leicester City midfielder, who is reportedly expected to sign a contract worth $13.8 million per season, was left behind in England as Leicester City traveled to Mahrez’s native France for preseason training. The Telegraph reported the move could be completed by this weekend.

It’s a big move for both Mahrez and Leicester City, adding a proven Premier League attacking star that will add to the squad’s depth, while bringing in more funds for Leicester City to spend on improving its roster. Unfortunately for Leicester, it’s another blow in breaking up the 2016 Premier League championship side, which has since lost both N'Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater, though Jamie Vardy has remained.

Here’s some more transfer news from across the Premier League and Europe:

(more…)

Report: Newcastle joining chase for Man City youngster

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So it seems Manchester City left back Oleksandr Zinchenko is a man in demand.

The 21-year-old Ukrainian international may be itching to go back to a more advanced role, and frankly it seems he’d want to play more often than the few minutes he got under Pep Guardiola last season.

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Zinchenko played 14 matches across all competitions for Man City this season, and the Citizens won all but one of them.

There were reports that Wolves saw a $21 million bid accepted by City last week, but now Newcastle United is said to be interested in bringing the youngster up north.

But Zinchenko wants to stay at City if there’s a role for him. Like David Alaba at Bayern Munich, perhaps he’s cool with playing left back at a big club and then sliding into a more prominent position for his country. He’s 17-times capped at Ukraine, where he’s played mostly at center mid, with some time at right wing and striker.

Who knows? But whether Newcastle or Wolves, he’s not going to be in front of as many eyes at City.

Transfer rumor roundup: Jorginho, Pjanic, Kenedy in the news

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Jorginho is in focus on Monday, as a Premier League club is reportedly offering a big fee to convince Napoli and the Italian that it is a better home than Manchester City.

The Etihad Stadium has seemed a foregone conclusion when it comes to the 26-year-old midfielder, a mainstay of Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli and a breakout member of the Italian national team.

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Sarri is under contract with Napoli, but no longer the manager at Napoli. Chelsea has been unable to land the manager due to an unwillingness to pay his release clause, and Football Italia says that the Serie A club is willing to pay about $71 million — $12 more than Man City’s offer — to bring Jorginho to Stamford Bridge. That would theoretically make amends for not Chelsea meeting the Sarri release clause (that they’d essentially be meeting. Yeah, it’s hard to keep up).

And Jorginho in the same midfield as N'Golo Kante and a more comfortable Tiemoue Bakayoko is frightening for much of the Premier League’s attack-minded midfielders.

Got that? Good, cause Man City understands and allegedly has a back-up plan who is also currently a Serie A star.

Miralem Pjanic is older and more expensive than Jorginho, but Calcio Mercato says Juventus may now be willing to move the Bosnian midfielder.

The 28-year-old former Roma midfielder had, oddly enough, been linked with Chelsea earlier in the summer.

With a $95 million asking price, the move would further fly in the face of what Pep Guardiola expected to be a summer without massive outlays. The report does say that Man City would start at approximately half that fee.

Back to Chelsea, they look ready to loan Kenedy back to Newcastle United after a Tuesday medical. The Brazilian left-sided man was a huge hit for Rafa Benitez in a half-season loan last season.

It would be another loan deal this year with a view to a Summer 2019 purchase should things go well. Newcastle wouldn’t be able to use him against Chelsea, obviously, but he was a game-changer in several of Newcastle’s notable second-half upsets.