The Premier League champions' new director of football, who was appointed this week, wants to sign the 25-year-old midfielder, having been tipped off after contract talks stalledEXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart
Manchester City's new director of football has quickly identified one of his first targets - Spanish midfield sensation Benat.
Former Barcelona technical director Txiki Begiristain, who took up the post earlier this week, is now charged with identifying the best talent around the globe for boss Roberto Mancini.
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Beñat Etxeberria is the new hot property in Spanish football. He came really close to securing a spot in Vicente del Bosque's side for the Euros after a fantastic 2011/2012 season with Betis, his first in the Spanish top tier. Albeit a young anchorman he's more in the mould of Thiago Alcántara than Javi Martínez, making use of his speed and positioning to get balls back and his technique to distribute them. Being Basque, he was heavily linked with Athletic Bilbao in the close season, but the move failed to materalise. He could be a talented addition to the Premier League but it remains to be seen how he would fit into a City side with a surplus of midfielders and one specifically, Samir Nasri, in the same mould as Beñat.
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Begiristain is also a big admirer of the busy playmaker, who is likened to Bayern Munich's Javi Martinez, a player City failed to capture in the summer.
The club's expanding Spanish network have been tipped off that talks over a new contract for Benat have stalled.
His current deal expires in 2014 - and the player has a €20 million (£16.2m) release clause.
Both Arsenal and Liverpool have previously been linked with the player but City, aside from being able to offer Benat superior wages, have a decent relationship with Betis, having bankrolled Roque Santa Cruz's loan stay last season.
Begiristain is making swift progress in his new role after being re-united with former Barcelona vice-chairman Ferran Soriano, who was appointed as City's new chief executive in August as the club went ahead with restructuring plans exclusively revealed by Goal.com in January.
Begiristain held a similar position during seven years at the Camp Nou, where he brought in the likes of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Dani Alves - and City hope he will have similar success at the Etihad Stadium.
Benat has started the season in sparkling form, scoring one goal and providing seven assists in seven league appearances for Betis.
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