Eliaquim Mangala: I'll prove £32m is money well spent by Manchester City

Britain's costliest defender is relishing pressure of life in the big league

Typically for Manchester, a bout of low pressure greeted the first press engagement undertaken by Manchester City's latest new signing, Eliaquim Mangala. As the interview drew to a close it started raining, in keeping with the heavy showers that marked the Frenchman's first week as a City player. "It's normal," he said, smiling.

Mangala is obviously settling in, but then pressure is a word he is happy to use – albeit through an interpreter – in discussing his near £32 million move to the Premier League champions.

"What has struck me since I've started at Manchester City, focusing on the club rather than anything else, is that there is a real positive pressure about the place," he said. "There is a feeling that there are some really big targets this season. It means every training session is really intense, and you feel that pressure in a positive way, as you want to be preparing that way where every session is really important. The feeling and the atmosphere around the club is very positive."

There is also the weight of expectation that comes with being the most expensive defender in British football history, surpassing the £30m fee Manchester United paid for Rio Ferdinand in 2002.

"It is not something you are focused on," Mangala said. "When you are a kid you want to grow up to be a professional footballer. You have certain dreams, like playing in the Premier League, that would be great, or playing in the Champions' League. But you never think, 'One day I will be the most expensive defender in England'.

"You kind of deal it in this way; the price was not [set] by me and it's something you don't pay attention to. It is something the fans and press might talk about, but I remove myself from those thoughts, really. And if you can't live with that sort of pressure, if it does bring any pressure, football is not the job for you. You should be staying at home and doing another type of job."

That was never the plan for Mangala, who was born in France but as a young boy moved to Belgium. He played for a couple of local teams before joining the youth set-up at UR Namur, who currently play in Belgium's fourth division. From there, Mangala went to Standard Liège, where he was converted from a left-back to a central defender, making 100 appearances in three seasons before joining FC Porto. He made a slow start in Portugal, but over the past two seasons established himself, drawing admiring glances across Europe.

United and Chelsea were credited with an interest, but the 23-year-old – a long-standing target for City – chose the Etihad Stadium, rebutting a suggestion that surfaced during the World Cup that he would rather play and live in London.

"It was funny as it was a French TV programme, and right at the end it was a 50/50 question," Mangala explained.

"The guy said to me, 'Manchester or London?' It was a question about cities rather than football. I said I would prefer not to answer but he said I had to answer. It was nothing to do with football but because it was the capital and London is London.

"They [City] were the club that I had conversations with the coach and the sporting director. They were the only club I had conversations with at that level."

Mangala was part of France's squad in Brazil, without playing a game, while City were busy working on a protracted transfer that involved negotiating a third-party ownership agreement before finally concluding a five-year deal.

Despite the price tag, City are perhaps investing in potential rather than the complete article, given Mangala's age and relative lack of experience at the very highest level. They believe, though, that he will develop, probably alongside Vincent Kompany, into a top-class defender capable of eradicating any deficiencies they may still have in that department.

"It's a real bonus. You talk about Vincent, but there is also Martin Demichelis and the experience he's got," said Mangala, speaking at the season-launching City Live event.

"Recently he's just had a great World Cup, and has played at the highest level in Germany with Bayern Munich.

''As a young player it is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with these players, and for my progression and evolution as a player it is great to learn from these guys. I'm playing alongside them both."

Mangala may not be fit enough to feature this afternoon as City begin the defence of their title at Newcastle United, after only starting to train with his new club last Monday. But with the manager, Manuel Pellegrini developing a squad geared towards challenging successfully in Europe as well, his days will come.

"City are a club where you have to set your targets high," Mangala said, aware of what is expected. "Obviously the first target as current champions is to hold on to that title and not let that out of your grasp. Then of course the Champions' League, that would be fantastic to be able to win that.

"It has got to be a real target for us and I think the overall grand scheme and project, to use that word of Manchester City, has always been ultimately to try and win the Champions' League, so I think it has to remain a big target for us certainly.

"But when you are somewhere like City, every match you go into and every competition that you enter, you go in with a mind of going all the way and winning it."

Newcastle United v Manchester City is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pm

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'