Pep Guardiola has not ruled out bringing veteran full-back Dani Alves to Manchester City.
The 36-year-old Brazilian, who won two Champions League titles under Guardiola at Barcelona, is available on a free transfer after his contract at Paris St Germain expired.
City currently have two experienced right-backs in first-choice Kyle Walker and Danilo and have no immediate vacancy, but there has been speculation over the future of the latter.
Were Danilo to move on this summer, City could be tempted to bring in Alves as short-term back-up for Walker.
Alves was close to joining City after leaving Juventus two years ago but opted for PSG.
Guardiola said: “All the important clubs in the world know his situation and the incredible player he is. He is an extraordinary person, but we have two incredible full-backs. So, that is what it is.”
But Guardiola, who was speaking at a press conference in Japan ahead of Saturday’s friendly with City’s sister club Yokohama F Marinos, is relaxed about whether any more signings are made this summer.
City have already signed midfielder Rodri for a club record £62.8million and Angelino in the current transfer window.
Asked if many more new faces might arrive, he said: “No, not many. I like the faces that we have.
“Maybe, but the transfer market is so difficult and the team is really good enough. So, maybe zero, maybe one, maybe one-and-a-half. We’ll see.”
City are looking for central defenders following the departure of Vincent Kompany but, despite being linked with Leicester’s Harry Maguire, Guardiola insists there is no urgency.
He said: “If we believe we can, we will. If we don’t we will survive without a new central defender. We will see.”
Guardiola gave his backing to one of City’s current centre-backs, John Stones.
Stones this week voiced his determination to bounce back after a spell out of the team late last season and a much-highlighted mistake in England’s Nations League semi-final loss to Holland.
Guardiola said: “He’s a young player. He’s made mistakes once or twice, not too much.
“In this kind of situation, if the player is open-minded, you become stronger.
“If he accepts it is part of the process to be better, and pushes himself to be better, he will do it.”
Guardiola was sat alongside midfielder Phil Foden and was asked to give his opinion on the 19-year-old.
Guardiola on Foden: I have said many times in press conferences, but maybe not said it in front of him. Phil is the most, most, most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager. He has everything to become one of the best players. #MCFC pic.twitter.com/RD3I4wGlzk— Andy Hampson (@andyhampson) July 26, 2019
The highly-rated Foden, who has been gradually introduced to the action by Guardiola over the past two seasons, is likely to be given an increased role in the coming year.
With Foden grinning next to him, Guardiola said: “Well, I have said many times in press conferences, but maybe not said it in front of him, Phil is the most, most, most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager.
“He has everything to become one of the best players. His only problem is sometimes his manager doesn’t put him in the starting XI. Hopefully in the future that can improve.
“He deserves all the minutes but in this team, with competitive fellows, it isn’t easy. But he is open-minded, he works incredibly hard every training session.
“He knows how I appreciate him and I’m here to help him as much as possible to become what he is. I am pretty sure both of us will get it.”
Copy provided by Press Association Sport
Ademola Lookman has completed a permanent transfer from Everton to RB Leipzig, the Premier League club have announced.
Lookman spent the second half of the 2017/18 campaign on loan at the Bundesliga club but returned to Goodison Park last season.
However the 21-year-old is no longer part of boss Marco Silva’s plans and the deal reportedly worth in the region of £22.5 million has been agreed.
Lookman was considered one of the game’s best young prospects when he moved to Everton from Charlton in an £11million deal in 2017.
However Lookman’s opportunities were limited under Sam Allardyce and he made the loan move to Leipzig, for whom he scored on his debut against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Lookman had been keen to turn the move into a permanent arrangement, with Everton agreeing to the move having initially been reluctant to part with the player.
Football’s transfer market often moves in mysterious ways.
From wondering why your favourite club has splashed out on a target they, seemingly, don’t need, to pulling your hair out as an obvious signing to improve their fortunes remains ignored. For fans, the summer months can be a confusing – and aggravating – time.
In Sport360’s ‘Transfer Market Mystery’ series, we attempt to delve into some of the glaring issues and work out what is going on.
Our latest case under the microscope – with help from WhoScored.com statistics – is whether Europe’s grandees, including last year’s strongest suitors Liverpool, were right to give Real Betis a free pass at their bargain move for Lyon and France playmaker Nabil Fekir:
Fekir appeared poised to be a coveted name throughout pre-season.
The 26-year-old had only one year left to run on his contract at Les Gones, for whom he’d notched 69 goals and 46 assists in 193 run-outs. This, ostensibly tempting, situation meant a drastic cut in valuation from the €60 million deal Jurgen Klopp’s men had walked away from at the last moment in June 2018, reportedly because of lingering fears about September 2015’s serious knee injury.
An expected stampede for his signature, however, turned into timid footsteps. France Football tentatively linked Fekir with AC Milan last month, while Gazzetta dello Sport proposed Napoli as enticing late admirers once Betis showed their hand.
The outfit who finished 10th in the 2018/19 La Liga and could not even offer Europa League football, somehow, won the day. A package worth up to €29.8 million contained a 20 per cent sell-on clause and the concurrent signature of unheralded brother, Yassin.
WHY HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN PURSUED
Betis’ cheeky announcement of Fekir’s arrival spoke volumes about the chatter that stains his reputation.
“In perfect medical condition,” the Seville-based side tweeted.
Fears about Fekir’s longevity, indeed, do not necessarily hold up to inspection.
For the third time from six seasons in Lyon’s first team, he got up to 39 appearances in all competitions during 2018/19. This figure was stymied by a late return from pre-season because of World Cup 2018 duties.
An exhibition of his enduring ability came at Manchester City in the Champions League’s group stage. Fekir teed up Maxwel Cornet’s opener with a searching cross and then robbed Fernandinho prior to lashing the second into the bottom corner during a memorable 2-1 triumph.
Value is also a notable element of the transfer. Betis’ initial outlay was just €19.8m, plus a nominal fee for the sibling.
In La Liga alone, this guaranteed amount is similar to the one paid by Atletico Madrid to Porto for 30-year-old, one-cap Brazil centre-back Felipe. Barcelona agreed a €26m package with Valencia for back-up goalkeeper Neto, with Netherlands international Jasper Cillessen going the opposite way for €35m.
Fekir, in comparison, is a World Cup winner and regular source of goals for Lyon.
In perfect medical condition! 🏥💉✅ pic.twitter.com/tnPBhhAul2— Real Betis Balompié (@RealBetis_en) July 22, 2019
If the attacking midfielder meets all the clauses in his contract, he’ll become the second-most-expensive buy in Betis’ 111-year history. He will, however, be cheap at the price.
WHY HE SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN PURSUED
A downturn in 2018/19 was easy to detect.
In the prior season, Liverpool and Real Madrid’s interest was piqued by a return of 23 goals and eight assists in 40 club – often sublime – performances. This pair were nowhere to be seen when a far-inferior tally of 12 goals and nine assists in 39 games followed.
In 2017/18, Fekir was the joint-fifth highest scorer (18) and joint-sixth-highest assist maker (eight). An average of three dribbles per game was the fifth best and only Neymar was fouled more often per match (5.2/3.5).
These numbers made much less impressive reading last season; 18 players scored more times than his nine, he was the joint-10th-highest assist maker, his dribbles per game almost halved to 1.6 and he was fouled only 2.2 times.
Another telling statistic about a diminished role is that Fekir’s five substitute appearances in Ligue 1 was also the most since 2013/14’s debut campaign.
Then there is the nagging injury issue. A range of complaints, mostly related to his ankles, meant he stumbled out of the starting blocks last term.
He’s also twice missed approximately a month of action in 2016/17 and 2017/18 with knee issues. This followed the cruel seven-month injury lay-off in 2015/16 after his cruciate ligament rupture.
Fekir’s talent is unquestioned. How frequently he will be able to show it is feverishly debated.
It appears that Europe’s apex predators were not prepared to gamble on the suspect fitness and diminishing returns exhibited by Fekir.
Not even a knockdown valuation could convince Klopp to come back to the negotiating table and there was no place in Real’s extensive summer rebuild under compatriot Zinedine Zidane. They’d turned away from the (once?) exceptional prospect who caused a riot in November 2017’s 5-0 derby mauling of St-Etienne.
At 26, Fekir is still young enough to reach the elite. Betis will be banking on him making the most of the platform they’ve offered away from his Lyon incubator.