Manchester City are thought to be considering a bid for Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella following an impressive debut season in the Premier League.
The Guardian and Daily Mail are both reporting Pep Guardiola’s interest in the Spain defender, who joined from Getafe last season for £15m, with an offer of around £35m mentioned.
Cucurella has excelled since moving to the south coast, despite admitting he struggled at first to adapt because of a language barrier. The Barcelona graduate has rapidly improved his English and he has recently said how happy he is at the club and in the city, having settled with his family.
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“When I arrived here it was difficult at first. I didn’t speak good English — maybe three or four words. I wasn’t happy because it wasn’t the real me; I couldn’t be myself,” the 23-year-old told The Athletic.
“It was very difficult, going to the doctors with the kids, speaking to teachers. We didn’t have the words to explain any problems. Now it’s really good. We go to cafes, Brighton Pier, shops.
“I’m very happy to be here. I’ve learnt a lot of things and I’m adapting really well.”
Joao Cancelo has been City’s regular left-back this season, but he is naturally right-sided, while Oleksandr Zinchenko has also filled in - though he is seen as more of a midfielder who can play at the back. Benjamin Mendy - the only specialist first-team left-back - is indefinitely suspended.
Cucurella has showcased his ability in defence and attack this season, featuring as a left-back, wing-back and increasingly, as part of a back three out of possession, with licence to get forward with the ball.
City would have a more natural option in the left-sided positions with Cucurella, who would be expected to settle easily into the side, given Brighton’s own possession-based style.
Albion will be reluctant to sell and would likely hold out for more than the £35m being mentioned, given chairman and owner Tony Bloom’s reputation for driving a hard bargain. Arsenal needed to spend £50 to bring in Ben White - who is a year older - last summer.
It could be a summer of some change for Brighton, who have already achieved their best ever Premier League points tally and are on course for a first top 10 finish. Highly-rated Yves Bissouma is expected to leave, with plenty of suitors for the midfielder, who has a year left on his contract.
Albion will be keen to hold on to talents like Adam Webster and Tariq Lamptey, while Danny Welbeck and Pascal Gross are out of contract - though the former England striker at least is expected to stay.
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