Football

'We're stronger than last season'

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has declared his happiness with the club's summer transfer dealings - and confidence that they have all been above board.

Over the past week, the spotlight has been on City's recruitment of Frank Lampard and Bacary Sagna, following comments made about both signings from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Former Chelsea midfielder Lampard has arrived at the Etihad Stadium on loan until January from New York City FC - Manchester City's American sister outfit, whom the 36-year-old England international signed for earlier this summer.

The Premier League champions were hit with sanctions by Uefa in May for breaching financial fair play rules and, when asked about the Lampard deal, Wenger said: "Is it a way to get around the fair play? I don't know."

The Frenchman has also suggested that fullback Sagna's move to City, after seeing out his Arsenal contract, was "agreed long ago".

But, asked on Friday if he was happy that everything as far as the Lampard and Sagna deals were concerned had been done correctly, Pellegrini - whose side face Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley tonight - said: "I think so."

SURPRISE

The Chilean added that he was "surprised" by Wenger's comments, and said: "I think, as managers, we have enough problems with our own teams to be talking about other teams.

"The only thing I can say is that we have important restrictions about the amount of money we can spend, and Frank Lampard was a free player - we didn't spend any money in bringing him from New York City to Manchester City."

Pellegrini is baffled by any negative reaction there has been to Lampard's move, including from Chelsea fans who might be upset to see him at a Premier League rival after 13 years at Stamford Bridge.

"I don't understand the reaction of Chelsea fans who say he is a traitor," Pellegrini said.

"The problem was not that Frank Lampard did not want to sign another contract with Chelsea - Chelsea didn't want him any more.

"He is a competitive player, he will be important for our team and we didn't spend any money on him, so the rules of financial fair play don't have any relation with Lampard."

Neither Lampard nor Sagna will be part of the squad for tonight's game - among eight City players set to miss out.

MISSING CITIZENS

That also includes Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Fernandinho and skipper Vincent Kompany, all of whom - like Sagna - were involved in the knockout rounds of the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Alvaro Negredo is recovering from a foot injury.

But there could be debuts for two other new City signings - goalkeeper Willy Caballero and midfielder Fernando.

And on the quartet of fresh faces at the club, Pellegrini said: "I'm very happy because I think we have important restrictions from Uefa, but I think we have a stronger team than last year.

"The four players who have arrived will be very important for us."

City are also expected to wrap up a deal for Porto's France defender Eliaquim Mangala, but Pellegrini was giving little away on that on Friday.

"I always say the same answer - when things are finished, we can talk about that," he said. "For the moment, Mangala is not our player." - PA Sport.


"I'm very happy because I think we have important restrictions from Uefa, but I think we have a stronger team than last year."

- Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini