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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 7, 2010

Mancini expects to conclude Milner and Balotelli deals

Roberto Mancini hopes to have signed both Mario Balotelli and James Milner for Manchester City by next Thursday.

• O'Neill expects Milner move
• Balotelli deal still on

Although Martin O'Neill hinted on Friday night that Milner was on the verge of completing a big-money switch to Eastlands, the contract remains unsigned.

Milner is due to link up with the England squad ahead of Wednesday's friendly with Hungary early next week, which further complicates matters.

Balotelli has Italian national commitments as well, although Mancini is hoping to tie up both deals very swiftly once those midweek fixtures are over.

"We are close with both players but now they are going with their national teams,'' said Mancini after a 2-0 friendly win over Valencia. "We hope that we can have these players by next Thursday.

"For now we have two days off and we are not going to talk about the market. Next week we will see. These deals could happen but we need to wait.''

Should both go through it would take City's summer spending beyond £125 million and confirm their status as the richest club in the world.

It is a fact not overlooked in Spain's Primera Division, with Valencia boss Unai Emery claiming they have even zoomed past Real Madrid in the wealth stakes.

"On a worldwide scale the only comparison has been Real Madrid, but City have even gone beyond that now,'' he said. "They are creaming off some of the biggest players in the world. The investment has bought them a squad of great players and now they are definite contenders to win the title in England.

"It takes more than just investment of course but certainly in the Premier League I would regard them as being at the same level as both Chelsea and Manchester United.''

It is Mancini's task to try and mould the huge number of stars into a winning team. Craig Bellamy did not even get off the bench against Valencia, with Mancini confirming: "I cannot use 25 players in one game.''

Bellamy will almost certainly resolve that situation by finding another club. For Shay Given and Joe Hart the situation is not quite so simple. Both men were given 45 minutes to impress as Gareth Barry and Jo scored the goals that cemented victory.

Only one will play in next Saturday's Premier League opener at Tottenham though, which must be very difficult for Hart given he is expected to start for England in midweek.

"It is not a big decision,'' insisted Mancini. "I am fortunate that I have two strong goalkeepers. This is important when you have a long season with three matches every week.

"I have an idea who I will play but I still have a week to decide. I know whoever I pick, the other one will help that person. It is not a problem for us.''

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