As Fede Quintero reported in Marca on Wednesday (article in Spanish), Manchester City are closing in on a €25 million transfer of Alvaro Negredo with the acquisition expected to be announced in a few hours' time. This news follows reports that Atletico Madrid's pursuit of Negredo has stalled in an attempt to find a worthy replacement for Radamel Falcao.
It comes as no surprise that Manuel Pellegrini is in search of a striker. Following the departure of Mario Balotelli midway through the season and more recently Carlos Tevez's transfer to Juventus, Manchester City have been linked with strikers the likes of Edinson Cavani and Mario Gomez. Added to that is the suggestion by the Daily Mirror's David Maddock that Manchester City were also interested in acquiring the services of Fred, who proved to be a quality striker throughout Brazil's successful Confederations Cup campaign.
However, with Cavani supposedly out of reach and a move to the Serie A for Gomez extremely likely, that leaves Negredo and Fred as the two remaining options.
Despite a poor season by Sevilla's usually high standards, Negredo, a vastly underrated striker, enjoyed a productive season, and he proved to be the star as he helped the Andalusians secure a Europa League place.
Negredo managed to make 36 appearances throughout La Liga last term, scoring 25 goals in the process; that is slightly under half the number of goals Sevilla managed to score last season.
But what is truly fascinating is the fact that, despite finishing fourth on the "top scorers' chart" in La Liga, Negredo would've finished second in the Premier League's chart, one goal behind Robin van Persie and one goal more than Luis Suarez, who eventually took second place on the charts.
The fact is, Manuel Pellegrini has always had a soft spot for 27-year-old Spanish international. During his previous reign at Malaga, he had intended on purchasing the player in order to bolster their attack, only for that to fall through as Malaga suffered from financial set-backs, which subsequently led to the sales of star players Santi Cazorla and Salomon Rondon.
And now it looks as though Pellegrini might finally get his man, mind you he needs him more than ever now.
Manchester City also suffered a disappointing season as they finished empty handed, losing to Wigan in the FA Cup Final and were highly unsuccessful in defending their league title as Manchester United cruised to their 20th League title. It proved that the Citizens were by no means a formidable force and that they still had plenty of work to do, especially in attack.
The Sky Blues only managed to notch up 66 goals throughout the League campaign, scoring 20 less goals than their Manchester rivals. And this is exactly the department Negredo will be able to make an impact.
Intent on leaving Sevilla in order to enjoy regular Champions League football, according to Fox Soccer, Negredo will find the transition from Spanish football to English football seamless under Pellegrini as he is athletic enough to deal with the physicality of the English game.
He will undoubtedly have the off-field support of the sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, who also was interested in bringing in the player and who currently enjoys a fruitful relationship with Sevilla's president, Jose María del Nido. On the field, he will be supported by fellow Spanish internationals Jesus Navas, who recently also sealed a move from Sevilla, and David Silva.
Negredo's understanding up-front with Navas over the years has proved integral to Sevilla's success. He is able to play at a consistent level of football throughout a season and has the ability to score from outside the box with a high success rate. He has proved to an aerial threat as well, scoring 5 of his goals from headers and, according to Squawka, won 130 headers, that's more than Carlos Tevez (13), Sergio Aguero (5) & Edin Dzeko (87) combined.
He also is somewhat of a creative force as well, chipping in with 28 "key passes" last season and is generally considered a complete player.
Negredo also has the tactical flexibility in operating either as a standard No. 9 or as a "false 9," offering diverse tactical options to a coach who prides himself in being a tactical mastermind himself.
Yes, €25 million may seem a lot for a striker who has never played for a "big club"; however, as stats have shown, no matter the environment, Negredo has the capabilities of playing at a very high standard and more importantly, at a consistent rate.
Manchester City's attack withered under the likes of Aguero and Tevez last season and it's time for Pellegrini to trust his gut. Negredo will undoubtedly add a bit of quality to a side wailing under pressure.
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