All posts by Lucas Flanagan

Manchester City owners add Mumbai City to CFG network

“We believe that this investment will deliver transformative benefits to Mumbai City FC, to City Football Group and to Indian Football as a whole.”

Manchester City owners City Football Group (CFG) have announced the purchase of a majority stake in Mumbai City FC.

It comes just a day after CFG announced the sale of a 10% stake to American technology investment firm Silver Lake for $500 million, valuing the group at just short of $5 billion.

The Indian Super League side become the eighth football club involved in the group’s network, also joining Melbourne City in Australia, New York City in the USA, Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay, Girona in Spain and Sichuan Jiuniu in China.

It was announced on Thursday morning that a 65 per cent share has been acquired, while the club’s existing shareholders – including actor and film producer Ranbir Kapoor – will hold the remaining shares.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of CFG, said in a statement that the group believes the investment will provide “transformative benefits” for Mumbai City, CFG and to Indian football as a whole.

He added: “City Football Group is committed to the future of football in India and to the potential for Mumbai City FC within that future.

“We are very much looking forward to playing an active role in Mumbai City FC’s fan and local communities, and working with our co-owners to further develop the Club as quickly as possible.”

While the deal provides clear benefits for Mumabi City and Indian football, it is also likely to benefit the rest of the CFG network, in particular flagship club Man City.

With the Premier League champions unable to play in countries such as India or the USA every week, CFG provides an opportunity to maintain franchises of the brand in such locations, enabling a constant market presence.

Deloitte’s Fernando Pons has stated that the CFG model is a leading example of ‘glocalisation’, a concept which implies adapting global products for local markets.

And while Man City merchandise isn’t sold by other CFG clubs – so that supporters of different British teams are not alienated – Pons states that followers of subsidiaries will almost certainly become MCFC fans.

A wider network of clubs improves their capabilities in terms of supporter base, and the larger their fan base the more revenue CFG will produce. With that in mind, it is unlikely that the group will stop at Mumbai, and – according to reports – CFG could make a move in Brazil and Mexico next.

Another injury blow for City before the Liverpool clash?

Manchester City could be without Ederson going into Sunday’s clash against Premier League leaders Liverpool after the goalkeeper picked up a muscular injury during Wednesday’s match against Atalanta.

The Brazilian shot stopper was substituted at half-time of the Champions League fixture, and was replaced by 36-year-old Claudio Bravo, who was later sent off, forcing right-back Kyle Walker to finish the match in goal.

And City boss Pep Guardiola is unsure whether Ederson will be fit in time for Sunday’s crucial trip to Anfield.

“Honestly, right now, I don’t know.

“It’s a muscular problem. It was not big but [we took him off] to avoid risk. He didn’t feel comfortable in the last minutes and that’s why we decided to make a substitution.”

Manchester City managed to hold out for a 1-1 draw against Atalanta, despite Walker being summoned to play in goal for the final ten minutes.

The visitors got off to a quick start, taking the lead at the San Siro after just seven minutes – a slick passing move slotted home by English superstar Raheem Sterling.

City looked well in control and had the opportunity to double their lead just before half-time having been awarded a penalty, which Gabriel Jesus scuffed wide of the upright – a miss which proved costly, as Mario Pasalic levelled the scores the other side of the break.

Despite City’s continued possession dominance, they were unable to break through their host’s defence, before the game took an unexpected turn. The Blues replacement keeper Bravo was red carded for a challenge on Josip Ilicic, leaving Guardiola with no option but to place an outfield player between the sticks.

Ederson, if unavailable for Sunday’s match, will add to an ever-growing list of injuries for Pep Guardiola to deal with. Long-term absentees Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane remain sidelined, while David Silva, Rodri and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all set the miss out.

City travel to Anfield on Sunday afternoon to face Premier League leaders Liverpool, with kick-off scheduled for 16:30 GMT.

What do you think the outcome will be?

Pep Guardiola admits Gabriel Jesus dilemma ahead of trip to Everton

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confessed that he is struggling to keep Gabriel Jesus happy at the club.

The Brazilian centre-forward has this week revealed that he is growing increasingly “impatient” with a lack of game time.

Jesus, now 22, signed for the Manchester club in 2017 but still finds himself as second-choice to Sergio Aguero – City’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Despite Jesus starting two of Man City’s last three matches, and scoring in both, Aguero is set to lead the attack away at Everton on Saturday evening.

And Guardiola has admitted that he is finding it difficult to keep Jesus happy.

“He’s special,” said Guardolia. “Of course he wants to play. He’s the No.9 for Brazil. I understand completely.

“All the players want to play all the games. It’s normal. No player will be happy if they don’t play regularly.

“He’s happy when he plays, not happy when he doesn’t.

“They have different qualities. Sergio is one of the most outstanding players I’ve seen in the small spaces.

“But I try to let them both play as much as possible. There are little details that make the difference.

“In some games, Gabriel gives me something Sergio can’t – and also the other way around.

“But both guys are incredible. Sergio is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, a top player, a legend, incredibly humble and a funny guy.

“They’re upset if they don’t play, of course. How can they be happy? It’s impossible. All I can say is that I’m sorry.

“The same happened in the midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden. I have to choose. We have many games and everyone is necessary.”

City go into the match on the back of three straight wins, scoring 14 goals and conceding none.

Their opponents have struggled of late in the Premier League, winning just one of their previous four matches, and two of those losses coming against newly-promoted sides.

Despite a lack of form for the Toffees, Guardiola still expects a tough match against Marco Silva’s team.  

“They are an incredible team with a top manager,” said Guardiola. “Goodison Park is one of the toughest games you can play and we know it. We’ve prepared for that and the players know how difficult it is.”

Expected line-ups

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, D Silva; B Silva, Aguero, Sterling.

Everton (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne; Delph, Schneiderlin; Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Iwobi; Calvert-Lewin.

Aymeric Laporte injury: Guardiola left with central defensive headache

Aymeric Laporte was forced off the pitch with what appeared to be a serious knee injury during Manchester City’s 4-0 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon.

The 25-year-old collided with Brighton defender Adam Webster whilst attempting to stop a counter attack in the 34th minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Laporte, who is uncapped on the international stage, had just been called up to Didier Deschamps’ France squad for the first time ahead of their upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.

It is thought that the defender could be out of action for a significant period, although the extent of his injury is yet to be revealed. 

A long-term absence for Laporte – who Guardiola recently hailed as the best left-sided central defender in Europe – could have a significant impact on Manchester City’s season, with the defender playing a key role for his side since signing in January 2018. 

The injury adds the Frenchman to a growing list of absentees within the City squad, with fellow defender John Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sane all currently sidelined. 

Stones, 25, has missed City’s previous two matches after suffering a thigh injury and was not selected in Gareth Southgate’s upcoming England squad.

That leaves Nicolas Otamendi as the only recognised centre-back currently fully-fit in Pep Guardiola’s squad.

The summer departure of former captain Vincent Kompany, who re-joined boyhood club Anderlecht in July, could come back to haunt City’s hierarchy having decided against securing a replacement during the summer transfer window.

However, Guardiola claims that City could not afford to sign a new central defender in the summer.

Guardiola said: “We could not buy like opponents or teams offer us or ask for players.

“Of course we spent a lot two seasons ago, but last season one player, this season a little bit more, so we could not pay the money wanted.

“But we have an alternative and sometimes when that [an injury like Laporte’s] happens, the team unites better and we are going to find solutions to do that.”

John Stones could be in contention to return to City’s squad following the international break, while Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho  who replaced Laporte during Saturday’s win  is said to be a further option at centre-half. 

Guardiola added that Kyle Walker could also be utilised centrally, along with academy graduates Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, despite neither of the youthful pair having appeared in the Premier League. 

Manchester City return to Premier League action after the international break with a trip to newly-promoted Norwich City on September 14.

Transfer round-up: Eriksen set to remain at Spurs?

Christian Eriksen had been linked with a move away from England

Despite the transfer window for England’s top two divisions being closed for almost three weeks, clubs across Europe have until Monday to add to their squads. 

We take a look at the latest news and gossip from across the continent with just under a week of the window remaining.

Barca continue Neymar pursuit

Neymar failed to report back to PSG training in July

Barcelona are making a last-ditch attempt to land Brazilian playmaker Neymar, who departed the Camp Nou two years ago for Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

The forward’s world-record transfer to the French champions in 2017 has gone far from to plan, and Neymar refused to report for pre-season training back in July. He remains to train alone in Paris, although this is thought to be as a result of a specific training plan, rather than the speculation over his future.

Representatives of the Catalan club have flown to Paris for talks with the French champions over a possible loan move for the 27-year-old, a deal which would include an obligatory £155m permanent transfer next summer. 

AS have reported that Barcelona are willing to sell out-of-favour midfielder Ivan Rakitic before Monday’s deadline, and PSG is the most likely destination for the Croatian international, so it remains to be seen whether Rakitic could be used as part of the Neymar deal. 

Real Madrid are still interested in signing the Brazilian, but AS are also reporting that PSG would demand Vinicius Junior as part of any deal.

Inter confident over Sanchez loan

Inter Milan remain in talks with Manchester United over a loan move for Alexis Sanchez, according to Sky in Italy. 

Sanchez hasn’t appeared for United this season

It is understood the season-long loan for the Chilean forward would cost the Serie A outfit up to £11m. 

Sanchez has been subject to a move away from Old Trafford all summer having been less than impressive since his move from Arsenal 19 months ago, scoring just three league goals in 32 appearances.

The 30-year-old is yet to appear for United this season, however a recent injury to Anthony Martial, sustained in their 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace, could tempt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to pull the plug on Sanchez’s late move away.

But Inter are confident that Martial’s injury won’t be a stumbling block and are hopeful of completing a deal in the coming days.

Eriksen set to remain in North London

Christian Eriksen looks set to stay at Tottenham Hotspur with the European transfer deadline less than a week away, despite suggesting earlier in the summer that he wanted to leave the club. 

Speaking to Danish news outlet Ekstra Bladet back in June following Spurs’ Champions League final loss to Liverpool, Eriksen stated his intention to move on, saying that he was eager to ‘try something new’.

It is thought that Eriksen was hopeful of a move to Spain, with interest reported from both Real Madrid and Barcelona, but a deal has failed to materialise for the midfielder. 

The Danish playmaker has less than a year remaining on his current contract at Spurs and, according to the Daily Mail, is set to snub a bumper new £200k-per-week contract. 

Eriksen has started just one of Tottenham’s opening three Premier League fixtures amid his uncertain future, and he will be available to open pre-contract talk with another club in January if a new contract is unable to be agreed. 

Spurs full-back Serge Aurier could also be on the move before Monday’s deadline, with reports in France suggesting AC Milan are interested in the Ivorian. However, it is unlikely the Italian club will match Spurs’ £25m asking price.

United target ‘offered’ to Real Madrid

Sporting Lisbon star Bruno Fernandes is being linked with a late move to Real Madrid after his club have offered his services for just £64m, according to The Sun. 

Both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur passed up the opportunity to sign the sought-after attacking midfielder earlier in the summer with his valuation not being met by either club. 

But Los Blancos are considering a late move for Fernandes if they are unable to land either Paul Pogba or Neymar. 

The Portugal international netted an impressive 32 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions for Sporting during the 2018/19 season. 

Fernandes scored 32 goals in all competitions last season