Brazil midfielder Fred agrees to join Manchester City

Updated 23 January 2018
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Brazil midfielder Fred agrees to join Manchester City

LONDON: Brazil midfielder Fred has agreed to join Manchester City, with negotiations between the Premier League club and Shakhtar Donetsk now centered upon the timing of the transfer. Pep Guardiola wants to add the 24-year-old to his squad for the remainder of a season in which City are still competing on four fronts. Shakhtar’s preference is to retain a player who has been fundamental to their progress in the Champions League until the summer before switching his registration.
Manchester United also explored the possibility of bringing Fred to England in the current transfer window as Jose Mourinho sought to restructure a midfield that has been persistently weakened by player unavailability this season. Unlike their successful head-to-head battle to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, however, United have accepted that the versatile midfielder is destined for their rivals.
Part of the Shakhtar team which inflicted the first defeat of City’s stellar campaign in a December Champions League group game, Fred is expected to share duties as a link between Guardiola’s defense and attack with Fernandinho. The Brazilian can also operate further forward in City’s 4-1-2-3 system, covering the positions normally filled by David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
A senior Shakhtar source expects the club to receive a fee in the region of €40 million ($48 million) from City. The Ukrainian champions have been attempting to secure a replacement for Fred, with Dinamo Zagreb teenager Nikola Moro a candidate for the role.
City’s expenditure on Fred follows significant investments in upgrading and extending the contracts of Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi until the summer of 2020 and 2021 respectively. The Abu Dhabi-owned club also lengthened Silva’s contract until 2020 at the end of November and is about to tie De Bruyne to a new deal that will make him its best-paid
player at the club.
With all of Guardiola’s first-choice midfield secured to long-term deals that include unusually large performance-related bonuses, City will move on to improving the financial terms of the Catalan’s preferred forward trio — Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane. The degree of expenditure on new deals coupled with the 29 Premier League goals contributed by those three attackers is related to the decision to allow Sanchez to join United.

Although City agreed to give Sanchez (pictured above) their top salary in order to sign the Chile international from Arsenal in the summer, also committing to pay a transfer fee of £55 million ($76 million) plus £5 million of variables to the London club, that deadline-day switch fell through. When Arsenal reduced their asking price to £35 million in the January window Sanchez’s representatives asked that the differential on transfer fee be paid to the player.
City refused, allowing United to bring the forward to Old Trafford.
Manchester’s best-supported club was able to secure Sanchez without paying a transfer fee, sending the out-of-favor Henrikh Mkhitaryan – who turned 29 on Sunday — to Arsenal instead.
“We have tried to find the best possible solution,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “And the best possible solution is that we lose a world-class player, I don’t deny that at all, but we did not lose him without getting somebody after. The future will tell if it was the right decision or not.
“I cannot understand anybody wanting to leave Arsenal. But in 30 years of doing transfers, you learn a lot about human beings. As a professional, it was perhaps his last contract at the top level and an important contract. We did what we tried to do and went as far as we could. Even Manchester City moved out of it in the end. That tells you we had no chance to give him a contract.”


Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 23 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp
  • SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006

RIYADH: The president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) acknowledges there will be added scrutiny on the Green Falcons when they kick off this summer’s World Cup against hosts Russia in the opening game, but is confident the players can overcome any first-night nerves and rise to the challenge.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp as they start to fine-tune preparations ahead of the first game on June 14. The Argentine coach has taken 28 players with him, but must whittle the squad down to 23 by June 4.
SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006, sanctioning five training camps and arranging nine friendlies, several against high-profile opposition. Their final three games are against sides with top 20 FIFA’s rankings, a deliberate strategy to ensure they are not undercooked heading into Group A games against Russia, Uruguay and Egypt.
“We are at a critical stage of our preparations, one that needs concentration and discipline, especially as we face three strong teams in Italy, Peru and Germany,” said president Adel Ezzat in a video on the federation’s Twitter account. “Our objective is to be on form by June 14 when the eyes of the world will be on us in the opening match. We have a bright history in the World Cup and Asian Cup, so it’s our duty to live up to that reputation. I would like to address all Saudi fans, whether they will be watching the games on TV or from the stadiums in Russia: They should pray for the players. The players are our brothers and sons, and we should all love our Saudi national team. I urge the fans and the media to be united around the national team.”
Ezzat said the players have been energised and inspired by a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before they left for Switzerland. The crown prince demonstrated his commitment to the game in the Kingdom by this week vowing to cover all external debts totalling SR1.277 billion (around $340 million) owed by Saudi Pro League clubs.
“We are optimistic after the historic meeting between the players, staff and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Ezzat. “The meeting set the tone for the final stage of preparations, and the players are up for the challenge of meeting His Highness’ expectations.
“We are grateful for Prince Mohammed for his constant support and generosity toward Saudi football, be it the national team, clubs or the league. It’s our duty to repay the faith of our leaders. This is something that drives us forward and I’m fully confident in the players’ ability to do us proud in Russia.”