LONDON: Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez, a key factor in the Foxes’ shock Premier League triumph two years ago, is poised to join Manchester City.
The new Premier champions made a series of late bids for the Algerian on the winter transfer deadline day at the end of January but Leicester manager Claude Puel resisted a mid-term sale.
Mahrez, who had submitted a transfer request to try to press the issue, went on a week-long strike in protest but returned to Leicester after the club agreed to negotiate a summer sale which would earn a massive profit.
The 27-year-old will cost City an initial £60m with add-ons taking the fee to an eventual £75m. He scored 48 league goals in 179 games over four years and a half years after joining Leicester from Le Havre for a mere £560,000. He would become City’s record signing, only six months after they paid Bilbao £57m for defender Aymeric Laporte.
City also hope to sign Napoli’s defensive midfielder Jorginho for around £45m and would be considered possible suitors for Robert Lewandowski.
Manchester United, runners-up to City in the league, are preparing to start their squad strengthening campaign by agreeing the purchase of Brazilian World Cup midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk.
United and the 25-year-old’s agents have been discussing the deal while Brazil have been in England, training at Tottenham’s Spurs Lodge in North London, while on their way to Russia. Brazil play Croatia in a World Cup warm-up at Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool have begun their own restructuring, after the Champions League Final at the hands of Real Madrid, by buying yet another Brazilian in defensive midfielder Fabinho from Monaco for £40m. Fabinho, who discussed Liverpool with Roberto Firmino before agreeing the move, will fill the gap being left by the departure of Emre Can.
Manager Jurgen Klopp said: “He has ability and mentality to play at the highest level in a number of positions. This is cool. We have signed someone who is a fantastic player but someone an equally fantastic person, I think.”
Huddersfield manager David Wagner has signed a new three-year contract after taking them up into the Premier League and keeping them there.
Wagner, staying along with coaches Christoph Buhler and Andy Hughes, said: “The decision to extend my stay at this club was not a difficult one.
“The relationship Christoph, Andy and I have with [chairman] Dean Hoyle, the rest of the board, the staff and the supporters is special. We’ve achieved some incredible things together in two and a half years and now I’m excited about the future.
“We still have a lot of work to do as we adapt to life in the Premier League, but this club and its people have the ambition, desire and attitude to take this challenge on.”