Despite a weekend of mounting speculation, Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini has denied claims he has already signed a contract to become Manchester City’s new manager, replacing Roberto Mancini who is expected to be sacked within the next few days. Pellegrini spoke after Malaga’s 0-0 draw in the derby with Sevilla on Sunday and, contrary to the media reports, refused to give details of any links to the Manchester club.
“I categorically deny that I am the new Manchester City manager,” Pellegrini said on the official Malaga website. “Nothing has been signed and no agreement reached”.
“I’ve been fortunate enough, and very proud, that every year the big clubs are interested in me. I have an agreement with Malaga not to talk to anyone and nothing has been agreed with any other outfit. I hope the future of this club becomes somewhat clearer in the next few days”.
It is not the first time Pellegrini has been linked to another club with reports suggesting his agent has met with representatives from Chelsea and Roma. He was reportedly offered the Roma job in February but turned it down immediately to focus on Malaga’s Champions League campaign.
Rumours began to build following strange betting patterns on Friday night, less than 24 hours before the FA Cup final, that Pellegrini would succeed Mancini at Eastlands, with odds going from 4/1 to 1/6 for the Chilean to be named the next City boss. Whether or not the rumours unsettled City is another matter but losing the final to Wigan, which means a trophy-less season, did not help Mancini’s case to remain City boss for next year. He argued after the game that the club should have dealt with the rumours in a better way before the Wembley final.
The ‘Pellegrini-to-City’ rumours began long ago when director Txiki Begiristan held a meeting with the Chilean’s agent in Madrid a couple of weeks ago. It is unclear whether the public meeting was held to discuss Pellegrini potentially succeeding Mancini or concerning a deal to bring Malaga’s Isco, who was also represented by the agent, Jesus Martinez, to the Etihad in the summer. It is reported that Mancini was unaware of this meeting and still doesn’t know the matters discussed.
Similarly, Malaga remain clueless about their imminent future as much as City. Financial doubts continue as another summer of selling star players beckons and Isco could well be linking up with Pellegrini in Manchester if the rumours are to be believed. Unpaid wages could lead to players walking out instead of being sold as Malaga head for an uncertain 12 months.
A matter to be decided in the short term however is the club’s European ban as their appeal will be heard on the 14th May. Malaga remain confident a solution can be resolved with Malaga currently sitting in 6th place in La Liga.
“Malaga believes there was a misunderstanding on behalf of UEFA, and our allegations were based on that,” said Joaquin Jofre, the club’s legal advisor.
General manager Vicente Casado added, “We’re very optimistic we’ve fulfilled our obligations and we’ll prove it”.