Football: Man City start the ball rolling

Monaco's Bernardo Silva avoiding a tackle by Julian Draxler of Paris Saint-Germain in the French League Cup final last month. PSG won 4-1 but it was Monaco who had the last laugh with Silva contributing eight goals and nine assists as his team were f
Monaco's Bernardo Silva avoiding a tackle by Julian Draxler of Paris Saint-Germain in the French League Cup final last month. PSG won 4-1 but it was Monaco who had the last laugh with Silva contributing eight goals and nine assists as his team were finally crowned Ligue 1 champions after 17 years.PHOTO: REUTERS

Silva, who is likely to sign a 5-year deal, will become the club's most expensive signing

LONDON • Pep Guardiola is set to break Manchester City's transfer record by signing Monaco's Bernardo Silva for £60 million (S$106.3 million).

The midfielder, who flew into Manchester from Mallorca on Thursday, is expected to sign a five-year contract with the Premier League club this weekend.

The City manager is determined to move swiftly in the transfer market after failing to win a trophy in his first season at the Etihad and had earmarked the 22-year-old as one of his top targets.

Silva, who has 15 caps for Portugal after making his debut against Cape Verde in March 2015, joined Monaco on a permanent deal in the summer of that year having spent the previous season on loan there from Benfica.

The playmaker missed Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph through injury but has been instrumental in Monaco's title win this season, as well as their progress in the Champions League, where they eliminated City before losing to Juventus in the semi-finals.

Silva, who was nicknamed "Little Messi" or Messizinho when coming through the Benfica academy ranks as a schoolboy, played 37 games this campaign and scored eight goals and provided nine assists.

THE NEXT BIG THING

I think Bernardo Silva could be one of the greatest players in the world... He is a good player. He takes risks. That's why I like him. He can be the No. 10 of the national team for years.

DECO , former Portugal playmaker, on the huge potential Silva has to become a top player.

Former Barcelona and Portugal playmaker Deco has tipped Silva to become one of the world's best players.

"I think Portugal now have a generation with lots of good young players in midfield mostly but I think Bernardo Silva could be one of the greatest players in the world. He has a lot of quality," he said.

"He is a good player. He takes risks. That's why I like him. He can be the No. 10 of the national team for years."

At £60 million, Silva would become the most expensive player in City's history, beating the previous record of £55 million, which the club paid for Kevin de Bruyne in 2015.

City and Monaco were still discussing the smaller details of the deal early yesterday, including the performance-related add-ons, but both were hopeful that a conclusion would be reached before the weekend.

Silva's agent is the Portuguese Jorge Mendes.

Guardiola already has a wealth of options in attacking midfield in the form of David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and de Bruyne.

But just last month he suggested he wanted more quality in that department, saying: "The big qualities in the big, big clubs is when you are close to the box of the opponent, the players don't lose the ball.

"Big teams don't lose the ball."

City's dealing with Monaco may not stop with Silva, since Guardiola is also optimistic about bringing the French side's left-back, Benjamin Mendy, to the Etihad, reported The Telegraph.

Improving the defence is also a key priority for Guardiola, with Juventus centre-half Leonardo Bonucci and Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kyle Walker two other leading targets.

On Thursday, City confirmed the departures of Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy, Willy Caballero and Bacary Sagna with Guardiola set for an overhaul of the squad he inherited last summer.

All four players were out of contract this summer.

Full-back Pablo Zabaleta, who had announced that he would leave City at the end of his contract next month, joined West Ham United on a two-year deal yesterday.

The 32-year-old Argentinian will arrive at the London Stadium on July 1 .

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'Man City start the ball rolling'. Print Edition | Subscribe