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Mourinho has 'turned down offers' since Man United exit, expects to return in June

Mourinho has 'turned down offers' since Man United exit, expects to return in June

ESPN

Manchester City are closing in on a summer deal for Saul Niguez after moving ahead of Barcelona in the race to sign the Atletico Madrid midfielder, sources have told ESPN FC.

City manager Pep Guardiola has identified Saul, 24, as a long term replacement for Fernandinho, having failed to beat Barcelona to the signing of first choice Frenkie de Jong from Ajax.

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De Jong rejected interest from City and Paris Saint-German in January to sign a pre-contract agreement with Barca ahead of a summer move to Camp Nou.

Despite capturing the highly rated Netherlands international, Barcelona are also keen to sign Saul as they attempt to reduce the average age of Ernesto Valverde's squad.

But sources have told ESPN FC that Barca have been made aware of City already making firm steps to seal a deal for Spain midfielder Saul.

Atletico's elimination from the Champions League last week, suffering a 3-2 aggregate defeat against Juventus, has raised doubts over the futures of several key players at the Wanda Metropolitano. Sources said that Atletico will need to raise funds in the summer through player sales, prompting Barca to pursue Saul. While Atletico are eager to hold out for around £120 million, sources said a fee of £80m would be enough to finalise a transfer.

With City spending almost two years searching for a replacement for Brazil international Fernandinho, who will be 34 in May, they are now set to win the race for Saul at the end of this season.

As well as missing out on De Jong, City have also seen previous targets Fred and Jorginho move elsewhere, to Manchester United and Chelsea respectively.

Jose Mourinho says he has turned down "three or four offers" since his departure from Manchester United in December but expects to take up a new position soon.

After winning the EFL Cup, FA Community Shield and Europa League in his two-and-a-half seasons at Old Trafford, the Portuguese coach was sacked following United's poor start to this season and replaced by caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"It's been two and a half months since I've been without coaching and I'm already preparing for my next challenge," Mourinho told BeIN Sports France. "I know exactly what I don't want, that is why I've turned down three or four offers. I know what I want, not the name of the club, but the type of work and the workload. I want to coach a team starting in June, in time for preseason."

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Mourinho, 56, has been a reported target of former clubs Benfica, Real Madrid and Inter Milan in recent months. He was linked with a return to Madrid after the Spanish giants' recent dismissal of Santiago Solari but the club brought Zinedine Zidane back instead -- a move which Mourinho described as "perfect."

However, Mourinho insisted he is not picky when it comes to his next challenge but is looking for a winning project.

"It doesn't matter where I go, I want to go to a place where I can still win," he said. "What sense does it make to have a philosophy of the game without a winning mentality? My best title will be the one I win next."

Mourinho said the pressure on coaches is much greater now than the past and claimed that clubs now easily forget past successes in light of poor recent form.

"I really don't think we are going to see a coach remain at a club for 10 years," he said. "Now players come and go, the pressure is immense for a coach. You have a good season, then the next one is not as good ... There is enormous pressure, a tendency for change. The rules nowadays say that coaches don't last long [in one place.]

Mourinho also spoke about Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, claiming the 20-year-old World Cup winner would be the most expensive player in the world if he were sold.

"A player like Mbappe ... when we talk about the future, we don't need to say what he is going to be like in five or 10 years' time," he said. "We have to look at him today, he is absolutely incredible.

"In the market you have Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi, are older than 30 and Neymar is 27 ... age matters and I think he [Mbappe] is the most profitable player in the world nowadays, he is the most expensive if we are talking about a potential transfer. The most expensive player in the world."

ESPN