Mancini confident of double swoop

Although Martin O’Neill hinted on Friday night that Milner was on

the verge of completing a big-money switch to Eastlands, the

contract remains unsigned. Milner is due to link up with the

England squad ahead of Wednesday’s friendly with Hungary early next

week, which further complicates matters. Balotelli has Italian

national commitments as well, although Mancini is hoping to tie up

both deals very swiftly once those midweek fixtures are over. “We

are close with both players but now they are going with their

national teams,” said Mancini after tonight’s 2-0 friendly win over

Valencia. “We hope that we can have these players by next Thursday.

“For now we have two days off and we are not going to talk about

the market. Next week we will see. “These deals could happen but we

need to wait.” Should both go through it would take City’s summer

spending beyond £125million and confirm their status as the

richest club in the world. It is a fact not overlooked in Spain’s

Primera Division, with Valencia boss Unai Emery claiming they have

even zoomed past Real Madrid in the wealth stakes. “On a worldwide

scale the only comparison has been Real Madrid, but City have even

gone beyond that now,” he said. “They are creaming off some of the

biggest players in the world. The investment has bought them a

squad of great players and now they are definite contenders to win

the title in England. “It takes more than just investment of course

but certainly in the Premier League I would regard them as being at

the same level as both Chelsea and Manchester United.” It is

Mancini’s task to try and mould the huge number of stars into a

winning team. Craig Bellamy did not even get off the bench tonight,

with Mancini confirming: “I cannot use 25 players in one game.”

Bellamy will almost certainly resolve that situation by finding

another club. For Shay Given and Joe Hart the situation is not

quite so simple. Both men were given 45 minutes to impress as

Gareth Barry and Jo scored the goals that cemented victory. Only

one will play in next Saturday’s Premier League opener at Tottenham

though, which must be very difficult for Hart given he is expected

to start for England in midweek. “It is not a big decision,”

insisted Mancini. “I am fortunate that I have two strong

goalkeepers. This is important when you have a long season with

three matches every week. “I have an idea who I will play but I

still have a week to decide. “I know whoever I pick, the other one

will help that person. It is not a problem for us.”