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Man City transfer news: Pep Guardiola plans 'hijack' for Real Madrid-bound teenager

Time for revenge? Man City 'aiming to hijack' wonderkid transfer
© Reuters
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is reportedly pushing to hijack Real Madrid's move for 16-year-old River Plate playmaker Franco Mastantuono.

Manchester City are reportedly pushing to hijack Real Madrid's proposed move for River Plate starlet Franco Mastantuono.

At a tender 16 years of age, the Argentina youth international has already become a fully-fledged member of the River Plate first team and has totalled 18 appearances for the South American giants.

Primarily a number 10, who can also play on either wing, Mastantuono has recorded two goals and one assist for River Plate in all competitions, earning minutes in the Copa Libertadores and Argentine Primera Division.

The 2007-born playmaker was also a member of the Argentina Under-17 squad that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup last year, and he made his debut for the Under-20s in a 1-0 friendly loss to the USA earlier this month.

As interest in Mastantuono's services grows, River Plate tied the teenager down to a contract extension back in March, and his new terms are due to expire on New Year's Eve 2026.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates with the trophy after winning the Premier League on May 19, 2024© Reuters

Man City 'tactic' emerges to hijack Mastantuono deal

A move away from Argentina is still expected to materialise in the near future, though, as Mastantuono's extension was primarily to ensure that River Plate can accrue a suitable fee through his sale, having inserted a €45m (£38.1m) release clause into the agreement.

Real Madrid have been considered the favourites to poach the 16-year-old from River Plate's ranks, as he would not be able to sign a professional deal with an English club until he turns 17 on August 14.

Los Blancos are also understood to have agreed personal terms with Mastantuono, but in a late twist, Sport claims that Manchester City are now firming up their previous interest in the youngster.

While Real Madrid are yet to reach an agreement with River Plate due to the Argentinian side's insistence that his release clause is paid in full, the report claims that Man City are instead set to employ a different tactic, despite not reaching an accord with the player.

The Premier League champions - who were knocked out of the 2023-24 Champions League by Real Madrid in the quarter-finals - are reportedly backing themselves to swiftly shake hands on a fee with River Plate before turning their attention to personal terms.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti during the press conference on May 7, 2024© Reuters

Man City to use River Plate connections to their advantage?

The Citizens could also benefit from their previous transfer dealings with River Plate, whom they have poached Julian Alvarez and Claudio Echeverri from over the past couple of years.

Alvarez - a 2022 World Cup winner with Argentina - conjured up 19 goals and 13 assists in a productive 2023-24 campaign but has recently been linked with a move away due to the presence of Erling Haaland up top.

Chelsea are believed to have been alerted to the situation, but Man City are not thought to be willing to entertain offers for the 24-year-old, especially not from a Premier League rival.

Meanwhile, Echeverri joined Man City in an €18.5m (£15.7m) deal in the January transfer window before being loaned straight back to River Plate, who will keep hold of his services until the end of the calendar year.

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