MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, February 16 – Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has dismissed speculation linking him with a move for Celtic’s Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama.
City were rumoured to have scouted the player during Celtic’s 3-0 Champions League defeat to Juventus in midweek.
But on Friday Mancini said: “I saw him for the first time against Juventus, I never saw him before. But every time I go to see a game, the next day people say ‘Manchester City want to buy this player’.”
Asked whether he was interested in signing Wanyama, he added: “At the moment, no. I think he is a good player.”
The club almost signed his elder brother, McDonald Mariga in the 2009 January transfer window but the move collapsed following work permit issues.
Rivals United, Arsenal and Fulham are other English Premier League clubs linked with the Hoops midfielder who has declined an improved contract at Parkhead.
Meanwhile, City defender Pablo Zabaleta insists his side are determined to avoid becoming the latest high-profile victims of the FA Cup’s giant-killing tradition when they face Leeds in the fifth round.
This season’s competition has already provided a host of memorable moments with several members of the Premier League’s elite suffering shock defeats against lower league opposition.
While the Cup is now regarded by many in the Premier League as something of an inconvenience, it remains a beacon of hope for those outside the lucrative top-flight and Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Norwich and QPR have all fallen prey to an uprising from the underdogs this season.
Only seven Premier League teams made it out of the fourth round last month and there are several opportunities for more upsets this weekend.
English champions City look especially vulnerable as they prepare to host Championship club Leeds, winners against Tottenham in the last round, on Sunday.
City’s 3-1 defeat at Southampton last weekend left Roberto Mancini’s out-of-form side 12 points behind leaders Manchester United in the Premier League title race.
Yet Zabaleta claims the spirit in the camp is still very positive.
“We will learn from the Southampton defeat and use the deflated feeling we had afterwards as an inspiration to maybe try and re-discover the sort of spirit we had last season,” Zabaleta said.
“We need to stand together, battle and show what we are really capable of. We will aim and get back to winning ways in the FA Cup and that is our immediate focus now.”