COSTEL PANTILIMON RELEASED BY MANCHESTER CITY, NEW ‘KEEPER COMING?
Manchester City have released Romanian goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, defender Joleon Lescott, and midfielder Gareth Barry.
Pantilimon, who is 6’8″ tall, played in seven Premier League games last season after Joe Hart was dropped following a poor run of form and qualified for a Barclays Premier League medal. He still had two years to run on his contract and his departure will only heighten speculation that City manager Manuel Pellegrini intends to bring in another goalkeeper with Willy Cabellero, who played under Pellegrini at Malaga, a possible target.
Barry played a solid role in helping Everton finish 5th last season and had been tipped to move to the USA, possibly to Man City’s partner club New York City FC. City have been linked with a move for Porto’s defensive midfielder Fernando. A January move for him fell through due to price but City may come back for him in the summer.
Lescott made just ten league appearances for City last season out of a total of 24 and was eventually supplanted in the team by Martin Demichelis after he recovered from injury and a mixed start to the season. Aston Villa and West Ham wait in the wings to bid for the 31-year-old defender.
Other players to leave City include Thomas Agyiri, Alex Henshall, Kieran Kennedy, George Swan and Alex Tchuimeni-Nimely.
Home grown Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata and goalkeeper Richard Wright have been offered new deals at the club which has been hit by a Champions League squad sanction for next season’s competition. Both qualify as home grown players towards City’s allocation, though, and Boyata’s offer comes despite rumours of a move for Porto’s French defender Eliaquim Mangala.
City will only be allowed to register a total of 21 players for the Champions League next season as part of the punishment but have been allowed to name just five ‘home grown’ players in next season’s squad rather than the usual eight due to the overall reduction in allowed squad size.
These English-developed players may include Joe Hart and James Milner who were named in the England squad recently.
Milner today admitted that he would observe City’s summer transfer activity with interest and hinted that he might have to leave if Manuel Pellegrini brings in more midfielders.
Micah Richards has been retained as he enters the final year of his current deal but it’s believed that City will listen to offers for the injury-prone defender as reports that Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna is about to sign on a 3-year deal to provide more competition for Pablo Zabaleta.
23-year old midfielder Jack Rodwell has been linked with a return to Everton after an injury hit time on the sidelines for City but, as with Milner, may find opportunities limited next season.
Youth players such as Marcos Lopes have already been earmarked for a greater role in the first team next season as City look to develop the holistic approach taken by Pellegrini and promote more of Patrick Vieira’s youngsters into the senior squad.