Manchester City Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of February 17

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIFebruary 17, 2014

Manchester City Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of February 17

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    Manchester City are about to play one of the most important matches in the club's history.

    Barcelona will take the pitch at the Etihad in a round of 16 match with the Sky Blues. With apologies to Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich, this clash takes top billing in the opening round of the Champions League.

    City vs. Barcelona would be big news under any circumstances, given the quality of the sides involved. What makes the pairing even more intriguing is that the Citizens have never advanced this far in Champions League play before.

    City manager Manuel Pellegrini has plenty to worry about on the eve of this encounter with Barcelona. The last thing on his mind figures to be the coming summer transfer window.

    Fortunately for Pellegrini, the British tabloid media is all too happy to do that thinking for him.

Victor Valdes to City?

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    Friday, Feb. 21

    In fairness, it has been a while since City keeper Joe Hart has made a noticeable mistake. Unfortunately for Hart, managers and fans have long memories when it comes to keeper foibles.

    Paul Brown of the Daily Star reported recently that "while City do not want to make any public statements about Valdes before he faces them again in the Champions League, they are increasingly confident of signing him."

    As Brown noted further, City signing Valdes "would put more pressure on England keeper Joe Hart, who is only recently back in Pellegrini’s good books after a shaky spell."

    What was that about long memories?

Sky Blues to Miss on Matuidi?

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    Friday, Feb. 21

    As reported by Alex Richards of the Mirror, midfield transfer target Blaise Matuidi appears set to stay put at his current club.

    "The dynamic midfielder, who starred and scored in PSG's 4-0 Champions League rout of Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday evening, is expected to sign a new four-year-deal," Richards wrote.

    City and Chelsea were in on Matuidi, who would have fit nicely into either Premier League XI.

    PSG are paying for the privilege, per Richards, by giving Matuidi "a bumper pay rise."

Richards to Liverpool?

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    Friday, Feb. 21

    As my Bleacher Report colleague Rob Pollard eloquently explained this week, City defender Micah Richards might be best served with a change of scenery.

    Staff at the club don’t want to lose him given his status as a top-quality academy graduate who understands the fabric of the club better than anyone else on the playing staff, and at 25 he could still have so much to offer. However, his performances are, understandably, nowhere near the level they should be, which is making it difficult for Manuel Pellegrini to play him regularly.

    Due largely to that pedigree, Richards will not lack for suitors if City make it known that they are willing to sell the defender, who is under contract through 2015.

    Charlie Wyett of the Sun noted recently that "City’s longest-serving player is a target for Liverpool, who failed to land the defender on loan last month." Wyett noted that City will ask £8 million to let Richards go.

    Greg Price of the International Business Times also observed that Richards is "also a desired player for Galatasary."

Messi to City?

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    Monday, Feb. 17

    Lionel Messi's visit with Pablo Zabaleta a while back has been recycled more often than a Coke can in New York City.

    That did not stop Daniel Jones of the Metro from squeezing a few more lines out of it.

    "Pablo Zabaleta says Lionel Messi is very interested in life at Manchester City and plans to persuade his Argentinian team-mate to join him in England," Jones wrote recently.

    Zabaleta added:

    went to Leo’s house and everybody was talking about the new owners and the big money. Leo has asked me what it is like to [play for City].

    Unsaid in the article was how Messi would not be able to move through Premier League defenders like traffic cones the way he does in La Liga—or why Messi would ever leave Barcelona to go anywhere, much less Manchester.

    Regardless, let's all look forward to hearing more about this non-story when City go to Barcelona on March 12.

Isco to City?

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    Monday, Feb. 17

    Real Madrid midfielder Isco was one of Manchester City's hottest targets at the outset of the 2013 summer transfer window. In fact, it seemed at one point that a deal was done.

    Per Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star, though, "Real then hijacked the dealand City refused to get involved in an auction increased by agent fees allegedly driven by Isco’s father."

    Not even a full season later, Isco is "not a first choice under Carlo Ancelotti" and may again be interested in a move to Manchester.

    "City, who would face competition from AC Milan, would NOT be prepared to include Real target Sergio Aguero in the deal," Hetherington added.

    You will notice how Real continually parries City's interest in Isco, wanting more and more money and suggesting that City would need to part with Aguero to get a deal done.

    It will make for interesting summer reading, no doubt. 

Lescott out at City?

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    Monday, Feb. 17

    Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott does not want to leave the club, but he recently admitted that it is probably not his call to make.

    Per Daniel Jones of the Metro:

    Lescott turned in an excellent display at the heart of the Manchester City defense in the FA Cup revenge mission over Chelsea but accepts he will be leaving the Etihad in the summer.

    Speaking of what a pleasure it has been to play with City captain Vincent Kompany, Lescott told Jones that "it has been great playing alongside him for the past five years and it is a shame it is going to come to an end this season."

    Lescott is taking the perfect approach to his departure. He is playing as well as can be expected in the opportunities he gets, and he is not complaining about playing time.

    This sort of professional response to an adverse situation should help Lescott find a suitable situation next season.