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Premier League champions closing in on a replacement for Garry Cook following new twist in CEO search

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Manchester City are on the brink of appointing former Barcelona vice-president Ferran Soriano as the club's new chief executive following a dramatic twist in their lengthy pursuit of a replacement for Garry Cook.

As revealed by Goal.com in January, City's high command had lined up Soriano to take on the high profile post at Etihad Stadium.

But the Premier League champions turned their attention elsewhere after the collapse of Spanair, the airline chaired by the ex-Barca chief.

However, talks with Soriano have been re-opened in the last 24 to 48 hours, which has led to a major breakthrough in the search to fill City's vacant post.

Sources close to both camps have indicated that Soriano is close to being appointed the new City CEO and that an announcement could even be made by the club in the next seven days.

It comes after it was revealed by Goal.com that the Abu Dhabi-owned club have approached Frank Arnesen to become their new director of football in a shake-up of their recruitment and scouting operation.

City have been without a chief executive since Cook resigned from his £1.96 million-a-year post last September after the disclosure of an inappropriate email exchange between him and the mother of the club's full-back Nedum Onuoha.

The Premier League champions employed corporate headhunters Odgers to find a suitable candidate and circulated they were willing to pay £2m-a-year to fill the post.

Soriano, who was on the Barcelona board between 2003 and 2008 as the club grew rapidly to become the second highest earning in the world, fits the bill as a well-connected football figure with international commercial experience.

The 44-year-old's contacts, wide experience of football's corridors of power and his role played in the spectacular growth of Barcelona's fan base and worldwide appeal have impressed City's top brass.
 
The lifelong Barca fan also speaks English and is well known at European football's top table. At Barcelona he had a spell as general manager and was a member of the executive committee of the now disbanded G14.

City's interim CEO John MacBeath has been regarded by chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak as a safe pair of hands until the club make a permanent appointment for what has become one of the most prominent positions in the game. But Macbeath was only ever seen as a stop-gap measure.

The club's Abu Dhabi owners want the new man to help expand the club's brand globally as well as oversee the £300m redevelopment of Etihad Stadium and surrounding areas in the years ahead.

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