Splash the cash! Manchester City set to spend big after Champions League ban was squashed with Lautaro Martinez, David Alaba, Ferran Torres and Kalidou Koulibaly on the radar – and Pep Guardiola and a host of stars set to sign new contracts
Manchester City will throw money at strengthening their squad after their European ban was scrapped on Monday.
City’s two-year Champions League suspension for alleged breaches of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules was lifted following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Now the club will head into the close season intent on renegotiating the contracts of a number of their top talents as well as signing between two and four stellar names as they aim to wrestle the Premier League title back from Liverpool.
Lautaro Martinez (left) and Kalidou Koulibaly (right) are both of interest to Manchester City
David Alaba worked with Guardiola at Bayern and the pair could be reunited in Manchester
Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus are among the players in line for new contracts as the club look to nail down the futures of their key men in the coming weeks.
City also plan to discuss the chances of extending manager Pep Guardiola’s contract. The Catalan’s current deal runs out at the end of next season and negotiations would be swift should he want to remain at the helm.
City, who will now tackle the Premier League should their own probe into the club over FFP point to any wrongdoing, also want at least two new defenders, while they are identifying replacements for Sergio Aguero, who wants to return to Argentina soon.
The club are keen to secure star man Kevin De Bruyne to a new deal in wake of the verdict
Bayern Munich utility player David Alaba, 28, who has worked with Guardiola, Napoli centre half Kalidou Koulibaly, 29, Valencia winger Ferran Torres, 20, and Inter Milan’s striker Lautaro Martinez, 22, and are all on City’s radar.
Argentine Martinez had been expected to join Barcelona, but that deal is in the balance with the Spanish club struggling to meet his £98.8million release clause given the Covid-19 financial crisis.
Manchester City officials are awaiting an update from the Premier League over their probe regarding FFP, recruitment of academy players and third-party ownership.
Should the Premier League take a similar path to UEFA, City are ready to meet them head on. Sources disclosed that there had been a hardening of the Premier League’s stance towards City in recent weeks. However, that may change after Monday’s CAS announcement.
City spared no expense on top legal representation after UEFA issued the ban in February and hit them with a €30million fine. They were adamant they had done nothing wrong and that hacked emails — which suggested they had inflated sponsorship deals via investment from their owners to circumvent FFP rules — had been taken out of context.
Valencia starlet Ferran Torres is the other player that is on the club’s radar for this summer
With the club’s reputation at stake money was no object, insiders said.
In a humiliating blow for UEFA, CAS found that City ‘did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions’. The appeal court ruled that alleged breaches ‘were either not established or time-barred’.
The Premier League is understood not to have a similar statute of limitations within its rulebook. Whether it has the stomach for a fight, given City’s victory, remains to be seen.
Its rules are separate and its probe — which has already seen substantial work — continues. UEFA are unlikely to appeal the verdict at the Swiss federal courts.
News of the result was delivered to Guardiola about an hour before it was published at 9.30am. The manager was surrounded by execs. ‘There was no whooping,’ said one insider. ‘This was a quiet vindication of our practices and our stance.’
City are being probed by the Premier League but Monday’s verdict was a success for the club
The club were keen not to be viewed as gloating or antagonistic towards UEFA. But there were jubilant scenes among staff at the City Football Academy.
City were found to have not co-operated with UEFA’s initial investigation. As a result, their fine was cut from €30m to €10m and they were liable for their legal costs.
A UEFA spokesperson said: ‘UEFA notes that the CAS panel found there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the club financial control body’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the five-year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations.’