By Greg Stobart
BEGIRISTAIN'S SAO PAULO TRIP SPARKS NEYMAR TALK
Txiki Begiristain sparked feverish speculation in football circles this week when he made a secret mission to the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.
The Manchester City director of football flew out to South America on Tuesday and while the precise purpose of his visit is not yet clear, there have been suggestions that the Premier League champions are considering a move for Santos star Neymar.
Santos have vehemently denied reports that an agreement has already been reached for Neymar to join Barcelona, so could City be ready to enter the race for the poster boy of World Cup 2014?
The 20-year-old would cost up to £50 million but City are prepared to push their transfer budget despite being wary of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations, having tried to sign the likes of Robin van Persie and Eden Hazard last summer.
Begiristain’s presence in Brazil would suggest high level talks with either a club or a player’s representatives, with the former Barcelona man unlikely to take such a trip for a simple scouting mission.
Neymar is under contract with Santos until 2014 but has been continually linked with a move to one of the European powerhouses having scored 70 goals in 133 appearances for Santos.
The 20-year-old has also netted 17 times in 27 appearances for Brazil and is currently the South American footballer of the year.
SUFFERING NASRI EYES RETURN TO LONDON
Samir Nasri has been forced to miss training sessions this month due to migraine problems - and it’s more than the Manchester weather that is giving the playmaker a headache.
The 25-year-old Frenchman is understood to be unhappy with life in the north west and wants to leave the club, with a return to London his preferred move.
Nasri joined City from Arsenal for around £25 million in 2011 but the Gunners would not be able to match his £175,000-a-week salary to bring him back to north London, leaving Chelsea as the only viable option in the capital.
While Nasri is a regular starter for the Premier League champions, he has never reached the level of performance he consistently produced during his time at Arsenal, and the midfielder has complained about the Manchester weather and lifestyle.
Controversial team-mates such as Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have also moaned about life in Manchester in the past - but they too have so far been priced out of moves away from the Etihad Stadium.
Nasri is currently a doubt for City’s festive fixtures with a groin problem picked up during last weekend’s 3-1 victory at Newcastle.
OUT-OF-FAVOUR LESCOTT HEADING FOR EXIT DOOR
A few months ago, Joleon Lescott was expecting a bumper contract offer as a Christmas present from City.
Now, the defender’s immediate future at the club is in doubt, and he could be plying his trade elsewhere by February 1 after falling behind Matija Nastasic and Kolo Toure in the pecking order since the start of the campaign.
Lescott has made just one Premier League start since he was blamed by Roberto Mancini for two goals conceded in City’s Champions League defeat at Ajax in October.
The 30-year-old’s current deal expires in 2014 and City are ready to listen to offers as early as next month, although a loan move is more likely if he is to leave the Etihad Stadium this season.
Lescott cost £22m when he signed from Everton and formed a key part of last season’s title-winning side alongside captain Vincent Kompany in central defence.