Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov has stressed that he had never pushed for a move to Juventus over the summer.
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Kolarov, who arrived from Lazio in 2010, had been of interest to the Italian champions on a season-long loan, but in the end no deal was agreed. The Serbia international says he is pleased that the transfer window is now shut so he is able to get on with his season.
“There were a lot of things said in the papers, but I never said I wanted to go,” he said after Serbia’s 3-0 win over Wales on Tuesday. “I have two more years of contract at City, so I’m focused on working hard in training and, when I have the chance to play, giving my best. I am happy at City and one or two years -- we’ll see what happens.”
After making just 20 Premier League starts in Roberto Mancini’s last two seasons, Kolarov is optimistic that Manuel Pellegrini’s arrival heralds a new dawn for him.
“I hope so,” he said. “Now we have seven games, I think, in the next 24 days before the next international break. That’s a lot of games and we have a lot of good players so there will be space for all of us.”
Kolarov is also confident Pellegrini can help City put recent disappointments in Europe behind them.
Pellegrini replaced Mancini this summer after successive Champions League group-stage exits and Kolarov said the Chilean’s excellent record in Europe’s premier club competition was a great asset to the club.
“He did very good things with Villarreal, and with Malaga last season, so I think has a lot of experience, which is good for us,” Kolarov said. “The first game against Viktoria Plzen is a big one for us, because a lot depends on how we start the Champions League. It’s important for us. We want to improve in the Champions League after two not-very-good seasons in it.”
City -- who have faced particularly tough groups in their last two campaigns -- have also been drawn against Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow in this year’s competition.
“Now we have a good group,” Kolarov added. “I think we can go through and go forward.”
The left-back, who scored Serbia’s second goal in Cardiff with a trademark left-foot piledriver, has already noticed a change in the mood at the Etihad.
“I’ve been there for [three] years,” he said, “so I can say things have changed under a new coach. We’re trying to understand him [and his ideas] and I think we can do much better than last season. He demands a lot from all of us in the defensive line, so we are working hard and improving every day. I think we’ll be at a higher level this season. We’ll try to do our best in the Premier League and the Champions League.”
Meanwhile, Jesus Navas said that his club understanding with Alvaro Negredo was important in helping Spain to scrape a 2-2 draw with Chile in Tuesday’s friendly international in Geneva.
Chile were the better side in the first half and led 2-1 at the break, but City’s two summer signings were subsequently introduced by Spain boss Vicente del Bosque, and helped force a draw. Negredo almost equalised himself from a Navas cross late on, and the striker then played a key role in the move that led to the winger netting in injury time.
"We connect very well,” Navas, who played with Negredo for four years at Sevilla, told AS. “For the national team that is very important.”
Having spent his entire career up to this season at Sevilla, Navas said he was now enjoying the change of scene in England, where he has started all three of his new club’s Premier League games to date.
"It is going very well,” he said. “I really like it, every game there is difficult but we have a team to do important things.”