Manchester City try to free talented Israeli midfielder from national service
Addition: Roberto Mancini wants to add the Israeli to his squad
Roberto Mancini is ready to bolster his depleted Manchester City midfield by hauling a 20-year old Israeli prospect out of national service.
Nir Biton, who currently combines military duties with his full-time career at FC Ashdod, created such a favourable impression during a week-long trial with City that his agent is about to begin talks to secure his release from a mandatory stint with the Israel Defence Forces.
The 6ft 4in midfielder, considered the next Yaya Toure, for his size and box-to-box dynamism, has returned to Israel but is expected back at City soon, provided delicate discussions with the military authorities can be successfully completed.
‘Nir is only due to finish his IDF service later this year, but we are ready to begin negotiations about that,’ said agent Dudu Dahan. ‘We will speak with the IDF, so that Nir will be able to leave for Manchester in the next two weeks. This is a great opportunity for him.’
Biton is one of Israel’s emerging prospects, after forcing his way into the national team and scoring six goals in 57 appearances for Ashdod.
After taking part in practice games alongside senior players like Mario Balotelli during his week at their Carrington training base, he is eager to strengthen an injury-hit City squad that has been further weakened by Toure’s involvement in the African Cup of Nations.
After touching down at Ben-Gurion Airport, near the Israeli city of Lod, on Wednesday, Biton said: ‘Spending a week with the City players and staff was an experience of the highest possible level.
Missing: Yaya Toure is one of a number of missing players at Man City
‘City are a world-class club, and they hosted me perfectly. They made me feel like a part of Manchester City. From day one, I focused on trying to impress the coaching staff. I was a little excited at the start, but I think it went well overall. It really was an amazing experience.’
Marseille and Rennes are also believed to have expressed an interest in Biton, but City are expected to wrap up a low-cost deal for him, possibly on loan to begin with.
‘We did not go to Carrington for a holiday,’ stressed Dahan. ‘We took this trial very seriously, and I think Nir did his job the best way possible.
'In his final training session, I spoke to the coaching staff, and they told me they were interested in him. We are now very positive about the future.
‘I don’t want to give too many details away, but I am very happy we received this news. Other clubs are interested in him right now. They are very respectable clubs in Europe, but our preference is City, in light of the amazing treatment he was given and the way he blended in with some of the best players in the world.’