James, Donnarumma on Guardiola’s radar for next season
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hailed the talents of AC Milan goalkeeping sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma and Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez.
City announced over the weekend that long-serving defender and crowd favourite Pablo Zabaleta will leave the club when his contract expires next month – a departure expected to be the first of a busy close season at the Etihad Stadium.
Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas and Willy Caballero are all senior players who will be out of contract, while Caballero’s fellow goalkeeper Joe Hart is expected to seal a permanent move elsewhere having spent the season on loan in Serie A with Torino.
While the England international has experienced mixed fortunes in Italy’s top flight – more than can be said for his flailing City replacement Claudio Bravo - Donnarumma’s star has continued to rise at San Siro during a season where he made his senior international breakthrough with Italy.
Reports by The Sun claimed City are keen to lure Donnarumma to the Premier League, with the 18-year-old only having a year left on his current Milan deal and Guardiola is a fan.
“Donnarruma is a top, top goalkeeper, definitely,” he told a pre-match news conference ahead of today’s match with West Brom. “He’s big, he has huge skill for 18 years old.”
Madrid midfielder Isco has been more readily linked to City than James, with the Colombia star and reported Manchester United target fuelling speculation he will seek pastures new by applauding all four sides of the Santiago Bernabeu after Sunday’s 4-1 LaLiga win over Sevilla.
James has failed to nail down a regular starting spot under Zinedine Zidane but has hit prime form as the Madrid boss has rotated his line up over recent weeks, scoring six times in his past 10 league outings.
Asked whether the 25-year-old would be a success in the Premier League, Guardiola said: “Absolutely. There is no doubt about his quality.