Belfast Telegraph

Pellegrini out at City, Pep in and Pogba to follow

By Mark Ogden

Manchester City believe that they will reap the benefits of securing Pep Guardiola as their next manager even before the Spaniard has arrived, with the desire to be a part of his squad next season potentially galvanising the players to win the Premier League this year.

The 45-year-old's appointment was confirmed yesterday and though Yaya Toure, shown the door at Barcelona by him in 2010, may not be so motivated, the club do expect competition for a place in his squad to intensify.

Guardiola's presence at the Etihad is also likely to make City attractive for the players who have been on their radar, in particular Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba plus Everton's Ross Barkley and John Stones.

Though Guardiola may seek to strengthen City's goalscoring options by trying to bring Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid have made him one of two prime targets if they avoid a transfer embargo. The Spanish club are favourites.

For City, whose three-year deal for Guardiola is thought to carry an annual salary of around £15.5m, yesterday's announcement marks the end of a four-year pursuit of the Catalonian.

They spoke to him in 2012, when seeking a replacement for Roberto Mancini, but turned to Pellegrini when Guardiola was unavailable. The Chilean has been aware all along that Guardiola was City's prime target last time.

Pellegrini, who broke the news of his departure to the players after training, wanted it to be made public - in part because he has ambitions to manage again in the Premier League next season.

He will be of interest to Chelsea, having delivered the title to City in his first season.

City, who insist they would not have parted company with Pellegrini had Guardiola not been available, will not stand in the Chilean's way if he wishes to speak to other clubs, with his former sides Malaga and Villarreal also likely to be contenders.

Belfast Telegraph


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