Champions League glory is target for record Manchester City signing Riyad Mahrez

Winning the Champions League is the main reason Algeria's Riyad Mahrez wanted to join Manchester City for a club record fee of £60 million. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Champions League glory is target for record Manchester City signing Riyad Mahrez

LONDON: Winning the Champions League is the main reason Riyad Mahrez wanted to join Manchester City for a club record fee of £60 million ($79million) he told a press conference on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Algerian international forward had wanted to move to the champions in January but City baulked at the £80 million fee Leicester demanded at the time.
Mahrez, though, said he did not wish to discuss the frustrations of the January transfer window and rather set his sights on what he can achieve at Manchester City.
“It’s a club who wants to win this type of trophy. The Champions League is for big clubs and Manchester City are a big club,” said Mahrez.
“They have everything to try to win the Champions League.
“It is a goal. Last season they lost in the quarter-final and I know they have the ambition to go further the next season.
“That’s why I’m here, why I made the decision to come here, because I want to be part of this.”
Mahrez, who was pivotal to Leicester’s extraordinary title win in 2016 contributing 17 goals, said the size of the fee does not bother him or put pressure on him.
“The prices have been big in every country. This does not affect me,” said Mahrez, who only cost Leicester £400,000 when they signed him in 2014.
Mahrez, who made 179 appearances for Leicester, scoring 48 times, admits there is a fine array of attacking talent already at City, including such as Belgian Kevin de Bruyne, Argentinian Sergio Aguero, German Leroy Sane and others, but he isn’t losing any sleep over where he slots in.
“I never thought about this. I am very confident about myself.”


Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

Updated 20 July 2018
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Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

  • Portuguese superstar has moved to Italian giants in deal worth nearly $120 million
  • Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid

LONDON: Love him or loathe him, you have to admire Cristiano Ronaldo’s character.
At a time of life when lesser mortals are lured by big paychecks to the likes of Qatar or China, the mercurial Madeiran has opted for what will be his biggest challenge yet at Juventus.
His career over the last decade has been played out under the cloud of the never-ending debate — “Ronaldo or Messi; who is better?”
Thankfully, that circus was quietened somewhat at the recent World Cup. Some flashes of pure brilliance aside, neither player made a big enough impact to lead their respective teams to glory and Messi’s wait for an international trophy goes on.
And, while both players are undeniably in a league of their own, the fact Ronaldo does have a European Championship title under his belt will always tip the argument toward the Portuguese — especially for those who measure greatness in statistics and trophies.
In fairness, Ronaldo’s statistics are mind-boggling. His stint at Manchester United, where he cut his teeth and started to show his potential as a great of the game, was instrumental in the club winning three Premier League titles and their third European crown. His staggering 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid saw him become the Spanish giant’s record goalscorer on his way to winning everything under the sun.
But the Premier League and La Liga are leagues in which attacking footballers flourish. With the dawning of wall-to-wall TV coverage, they have both been transformed to entertain the billions of people who tune in every week — and in this day and age, goalscoring superstars win you fans, not defenses.
The art of defending has all-but disappeared and the culture of building a spine through a team has slowly but surely been eroded away. Nobody wants to watch an engrossing, absorbing, end-to-end goalless draw anymore — it is all about 6-5 thrillers.
But not so in Italy.
Serie A, for all its scandals and fall from grace since its heady days of the 1990s, is still an extremely difficult league to win. It is a league in which fans and managers place great emphasis on defending, on building teams from back-to-front (not the other way around) and on the mentality of “you cannot lose if you don’t concede.”
Granted, Juventus have walked Serie A for the past seven seasons; it is to be expected from one of the richest clubs in the world. But rarely have they won it at a canter. Never once have they scored anywhere near 100 goals in a season to win it — unlike Manchester City in last season’s Premier League, or Barcelona and Real Madrid almost every season in the same period.
And not once has Serie A’s top-goalscorer reached the dizzying heights Ronaldo (and Messi) hit in La Liga season after season, nor has it always been a Juventus player claiming the golden boot.
This all points to a monumental challenge for Ronaldo. On paper, he should not find it as easy to score goals in Serie A and with the marked improvement of Napoli, Roma and Lazio recently, nor will it be an easy ride for Juventus to claim an eighth scudetto in a row this year.
So, while Messi prefers to stay in one country and within his comfort zone of the defense-shy Spanish league, if a 30-something Ronaldo succeeds in Italy — or, better yet, guides Juventus to the European glory the fans crave so much — it would be his most remarkable achievement yet.
And it would put the tiresome debate over who is the greatest ever to bed, once and for all.
No contest.