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'Citizens' who could have been 'Blancos'

SPORTYOU SPORTYOU 26/04/2016 sportyou
Las cuentas pendientes de los 'citizens' que pudieron vestir de blanco © Getty Images Las cuentas pendientes de los 'citizens' que pudieron vestir de blanco

Manchester City and Real Madrid come face to face this evening almost three and a half years after their last official meeting -though they did meet last summer in the International Champions Cup. In November 2012, the Blancos were unable to get more than a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium. Of the starting line-up that Roberto Mancini put out that night, as many as six players could be on the field again tonight: Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva and 'Kun' Agüero. The last three of these were sounded out by Real Madrid before finally joining City, and another two who could be picked tonight by Manuel Pellegrini were also at one time rumoured to be in the Spanish club's sights: Jesús Navas and Nicolás Otamendi. These five players will now have the opportunity to get their 'revenge' on the team that they once could have formed part of.

The best-known case is that of Sergio Agüero. Real Madrid were very intrested in signing the Argentinian, it was rumoured that an offer had been made on a signed serviette -in pure Zidane-style-, although later a non-aggression pact between the Madrid clubs and even an 'anti-Madrid' clause were mentioned as reasons why the player eventually did not go to the Santiago Bernabéu. 'Football Leaks', however, refute this argument.

The most recent case is that of Nicolás Otamendi. Real Madrid had their eye on the then Valencia centre-back in case Sergio Ramos' departure to go to Manchester United was finally confirmed. Otamendi, however, finally got tired of waiting and packed his bags for Manchester. The case of David Silva was different. While nobody doubted his abilities as a footballer or that he was of the right calibre for Real Madrid, at the offices in Concha Espina they also had reports about his private life off the field that finally persuaded them to rule out signing the Canary Islander.

As for Jesús Navas, the Seville-born winger could have moved to the Santiago Bernabéu in 2010, but José Mourinho - who arrived at the club that summer- eventually opted for Ángel di María to play in that position.

At that time, and also with the Portuguese coach involved, 'operation Kolarov' was launched. "The president told me he would let me sign for Madrid" said the player, who was on Lazio's books at the time. 'Mou' had already tried to take him to Inter Milan and Kolarov was flattered by the Blancos' interest in him: "I hope this time it comes off." In the end, the Serbian also flew to Manchester that very summer, with €22.5 million doing the talking.

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