Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Barcelona influence at Manchester City set to increase

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Kenneth Vermeer of Ajax punches clear of Sergio Aguero of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City FC and Ajax Amsterdam at the Etihad Stadium on November 6, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini (right) is filmed by a TV cameraman as he complains about referee Peter Rasmussen after the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini (second right) is filmed by a TV cameraman as he complains about referee Peter Rasmussen after the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Barcelona's former Spanish scout Bojan Krkic is being actively considered for a similar role at Manchester City by new sporting director Txiki Begiristain, as part of the Nou Camp revolution taking place at the club.

City's manager Roberto Mancini, who has surrounded himself with Italians in most parts of the football operation, has mocked the idea that the chief executive, Ferran Soriano, and newly appointed Begiristain – who both contributed to Barcelona's emergence as arguably the world's greatest club – are lining up Pep Guardiola for his job. But Begiristain is undertaking a detailed review of the footballing operation at the club and Krkic, the Serbian father of the 22-year-old striker who takes the same name, could be in place within the next two months.

Joan Patsy, the former journalist turned sports consultant who worked alongside Johan Cruyff when he managed Barcelona, could also arrive,further increasing the former Catalan contingent.

However, it is understood that the new Spanish hierarchy do not want to be seen to be presiding over a "Barcelonafication" of the Premier League champions. Indeed, since his appointment last month Begiristain is understood not to have spoken to Guardiola.

Also, Krkic Snr, a former Red Star Belgrade player, is no ally of Guardiola, under whose management Krkic Jr failed to prosper at the Nou Camp before the club sold him to Roma last year. He has since gone on loan to AC Milan.

The ideal scenario for the new sporting director would be Mancini putting this autumn's Champions League struggles behind him and continuing to lead the club's on-field progress.

Sources in Spain yesterday strongly rejected suggestions that Begiristain's arrival means that the Brazil forward Neymar will be signed by City at Mancini's request. Begiristain is said to want to complete his fact-finding work before pursuing a major new target.

There is a precedent for Soriano allowing the manager, rather than the sporting director, to have his way on transfers. In 2006, the Nou Camp manager Frank Rijkaard wanted to sign Eidur Gudjohnsen from Chelsea, while Begiristain wanted Diego Forlan, then at Villarreal. Gudjohnsen was signed for what was to be an unsuccessful three-year spell.

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