An Israeli soccer midfielder may be signed by Arab-owned Manchester City, one of the richest clubs in the world, following a successful trial.
The 20-year-old Nir Biton, currently of FC Ashdod, left a favorable impression with Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City, the reigning champions of England’s Premier League and one of the rising forces in world soccer, Maariv reported.
Manchester City, perennial underdogs to cross-town rivals Manchester United, rose to prominence in recent years following its purchase in 2008 by the Abu Dhabi United Group. Since then the United Arab Emirates oil tycoon Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has lavished an unprecedented £930 million on new players and facilities.
The investment started to pay off last season as City won its first championship since 1968 in a dramatic fashion.
Having played in pre-season friendlies with Man City against Dynamo Dresden and Al-Hilal FC, Biton featured in the starting line-up in a 2:0 victory against Arsenal in a high-profile friendly match in Beijing on Friday. Playing alongside established stars such as Yaya Touré, Carlos Tévez and Sergio Aguero, Biton left a mark on the match with his clear vision and confident ball distribution. He was involved in the build-up for City’s opening goal, passing the ball to Touré, who set up Pablo Zabaleta.
Based on his Friday performance, the lanky Biton is a player in the mold of Barcelona’s and Spain’s Sergio Busquets: a defensive midfielder distinguished by slick link play and a highly developed positional sense.
Biton will not join City for its tour of Malaysia because that country does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Still, speculation in Ashdod is that there is a good chance he will be purchased by the English champs.
If the deal indeed does go through, Biton would face tough competition as City’s midfield roster includes internationals Touré, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Gareth Barry, James Milner and Nigel de Jong.