x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Manchester City express interest in Robin van Persie

In-form Arsenal striker on manager Roberto Mancini's radar as Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed-owned City prepare for their Europa League match with Porto.

Owen Hargreaves, centre, is in the middle of the action during Manchester City's training session ahead of their Europa League match with Sporting.
Owen Hargreaves, centre, is in the middle of the action during Manchester City's training session ahead of their Europa League match with Sporting.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has confirmed his interest in Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, but believes the Dutchman will remain with the Gunners.

The prolific 28 year old, who has netted 32 goals for the north London club this season, is out of contract at the Emirates Stadium in 2013 and has put talks over a new deal on hold until the summer.

Mancini would love to add Van Persie to his already star-studded ranks if he became available, but does not think that will happen.

Quoted in several national newspapers, the Italian said: "We are interested in all good players. This is normal, but not only us. I think all the good teams are interested in Van Persie.

"I think Van Persie at this moment is one of the best strikers in Europe with [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and with Sergio [Aguero] and Mario [Balotelli].

"I think he is a fantastic striker, but I think he will remain with Arsenal."

City acquired Samir Nasri from Arsenal last summer and have also signed Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor from the Gunners in recent years.

Rui Patricio has warned Manchester City to underestimate Sporting tonight at their peril.

The Premier League leaders are favourites to win their Europa League last-16 tie with the Portuguese side having crushed the country's champions, Porto, 6-1 in the previous round.

The fourth-placed Lisbon side trail Porto by 14 points in the Portuguese league and head into the first leg against City at their Jose Alvalade Stadium tonight after a shock loss at struggling Setubal last weekend.

But Patricio, the highly rated goalkeeper who was linked with Manchester United last year, is confident Sporting have the armoury to catch City by surprise.

The 24 year old said: "I don't care whether they know Sporting's players or not - they will get to know them tomorrow.

"We have no fear. It is 11 against 11 and anything can happen.

"It will be a tough game, City are a very strong team. But we are playing at home, we will be united and will fight for victory until the end.

"We know what went wrong against Setubal and we won't be affected by that.

"We are professionals, we are an excellent team with quality players. We are very united and with grit and ambition, and I am sure we will be able to beat Manchester City."

The game could offer Patricio the chance to impress English audiences ahead of a possible move to the Premier League, but he insists that is of no concern now.

He said: "The most important thing now is Sporting.

"We have to think about Sporting and only tomorrow night's match."

Ricardo Sa Pinto, the coach, is equally bullish about his side's prospects against the English Premier League leaders.

The Lions had won their previous three games prior to the Setubal loss, including a decisive second-leg victory over Legia Warsaw in the previous Europa League round.

The former Portugal forward claims to have done his homework on City and is not fazed by their formidable form this season.

He said: "I know the opponents well. Manchester City are a strong team, they are first in the Premier League - most goals scored, least goals conceded, very strong players in all areas.

"But Sporting are at home, we have no fear.

"We will be serious and focused, and will play our game. We also have quality players, internationals. We will overcome.

"No team is always at 100 per cent in all matches. Manchester City don't have many weaknesses but anything can happen tomorrow.

"We will take advantage of any opportunity we get and if we fulfil our strategy I expect to get a positive result."

UAE TV: 10pm, Al Jazeera Sport +4