Jesus Navas joins La Liga exodus to England
The list of big names swapping La Liga in Spain for the English Premier League continues as Jesus Navas looks set to become Manchester City's first major signing of the close season, with Manuel Pellegrini expected to follow suit as the club's new manager.
Sevilla confirmed on Monday night that they had accepted a bid for the player from City that is believed to be in the region of 20 million euros ($26 million, Â£17 million).
The deal, though, could eventually be worth up to 25 million euros to the Spanish club, depending on Navas achieving certain objectives.
Pellegrini, meanwhile, has already admitted having a verbal agreement with City to take over for next season.
Navas was believed to be one of his main transfer targets as he tries to rejuvenate the 2011/12 English champions after a disappointing campaign in which they finished without a major trophy.
"It is a good opportunity and I think that both parties end up winning," said Navas, who also revealed that he made up his mind to go to City four months ago.
Navas' move makes him the latest in what has been a broadly successful wave of Spanish players coming to the Premier League in the last few years.
The vast difference in wealth between English clubs, who will receive even more television money thanks to the start of a new broadcasting deal next season, and those outside Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga has already seen the likes of Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, Michu and Navas' new teammate at City, David Silva, make the move to England.
What makes Navas' move so intriguing, however, is how he will adjust, not just to the playing style of the Premier League, but with the move to Manchester generally.
"The Premier League is a competition with very quick football," he says. "I am very excited. Manchester City are creating a great team. It is a very good project and it was the moment to take the step."
Despite the recognition of his undoubted talent from early on in his career, a move away from Sevilla has come relatively late, at the age of 27, due to the panic attacks and anxiety he suffered when being away from his home province of Seville.
A potential move to Chelsea seven years ago never materialised because of fears about his homesickness that even delayed his introduction to the Spanish national team.
But since making his international debut in 2009, those fears seem to have been overcome, as he was part of both Spain sides that won the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and the European Championship last year in Poland and Ukraine.
Moreover, his style of play already seems more suited to the Premier League than the likes of Mata, Cazorla and Silva, who have all made a successful transition. A pacy and tricky winger, he has the ability to beat full-backs both on the outside and cutting in more centrally.
His quality of crossing is also very good, but if there is one knock against him it is a poor goal return for an attacking player. Indeed he found the net just once in 45 appearances for Sevilla this season.
City will be looking for a greater return on their investment but it is Navas' ability to create goals that is his biggest asset -- he has already proven at international tournaments that he can be a game-changer off the bench, making crucial contributions in the World Cup and Euro triumphs despite making just the one start.
With one of Pellegrini's main tasks set to be balancing the needs of a big squad, that versatility could be vital in helping Navas become the latest Spanish import to take the Premier League by storm.
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