Mancini targets Van Persie signing

 

Lisbon

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, arrived in Lisbon yesterday for the Europa League tie with Sporting, but his mind was back in England and on the Arsenal striker Robin van Persie, in particular.

City have been linked with a move for the prolific Dutch striker but it is the first time Mancini has gone public with his desire to sign him. "We are interested in all good players. This is normal, but not only us. I think all the good teams are interested in Van Persie," he said.

"I think Van Persie at this moment is one of the best strikers in Europe with [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and with Sergio [Aguero] and Mario [Balotelli]. I think he is a fantastic striker, but I think he will remain with Arsenal."

City acquired Samir Nasri from Arsenal last summer and have also signed Gaël Clichy, Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor from them in recent years. Mancini added: "I think if there is a good player who wants to leave a club, then we are interested. But if this player wants to stay, we don't have any problem. In my opinion, Van Persie will stay at Arsenal.

"I think Robin van Persie will sign a new contract with Arsenal because if Arsenal lose also Van Persie, they will have a big problem."

As regards the Europa League, Mancini insisted that it would be perfectly possible to win the final in Bucharest and see off the constant, draining Premier League challenge of Manchester United, although those in his squad know the margins of error are now very slim.

"We have to be careful and not lose even one more match," said Sergio Aguero. "Even if we draw a game, they could catch us. The Premier League is so competitive and now the matches are harder for us."

As part of the Atletico Madrid side that overcame Fulham to win the Europa League two years ago, Aguero has been this way before. At the Vicente Calderon, though, they were not fighting on two fronts as they are at City.

In an interview with the Argentinian daily El Grafico, Aguero said: "Even if we don't win the title, the fans will still say we had a great season". In the long term he will be right, but to have come so close and be bested by a side that has consistently eclipsed them would take some swallowing in Manchester's blue corner. His father-in-law, Diego Maradona, could not understand why Argentina celebrated their second place in the 1990 World Cup, commenting tartly to his team-mates: "You don't celebrate second place, tiger."

When Mancini arrived in the press room in the Jose Alvalade Stadium yesterday, it was to face questions that City did not respect Sporting. There was the suggestion that some members of the City squad could not name any of the opposition players.

"My stance is always to be very well informed about my opponents," said the Sporting manager, Ricardo Sa Pinto. "Maybe not everyone does that but, after tomorrow, maybe they won't forget some of [my] players' names."

And yet, compared with Porto, Sporting Lisbon should be straightforward for City. Currently fourth in their league, they have recent fired their coach, Domingos Paciencia.

For once, the questions directed towards Mancini were not dominated by the twin figures of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, as the absence of the suspended Yaya Touré is more significant. Balotelli, Mancini said, had been fined for his trip to a Liverpool strip joint just before City's dismissal of Bolton on Saturday, but one week's pay rather than two. Just the £120,000, then.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor