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Sagna hails Nolito qualities after City swoop for Spain star

France defender Bacary Sagna has welcomed Nolito to Manchester City and marvelled at the dazzling year enjoyed by the Spain forward.

Nolito completed his move to the Premier League on Friday after City met a release clause in his contract with Celta Vigo, understood to be in the region of £13.8million.

The 29-year-old scored 12 times and provided seven assists in 29 appearances for Celta last term to earn a place in Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Euro 2016.

He started all four of Spain’s matches as they bowed out in the last 16 against Italy, scoring against Turkey and catching his new team-mate Sagna’s eye.

“I’m happy and happy for him – he’s going to bring a lot to the team,” the experienced right-back told a news conference ahead of France’s quarter-final clash with Iceland on Sunday. 

“He has some qualities and technique that are superior to other players He has had a very good season and did an excellent Euro with Spain.

“If Pep Guardiola takes him it’s for good reasons, I’m sure of it.”

Nolito will join a squad under new City boss Guardiola where few of the the leading lights, with the exception of Belgium star Kevin De Bruyne, have enjoyed their time at Euro 2016.

Sagna has been a solid, ever-present for the hosts, but his club-mate Eliaquim Mangala is yet to feature for Les Bleus and reports in France suggest uncapped Barcelona-bound centre-back Samuel Umtiti will come in for the suspended Adil Rami against Iceland at his expense.

“It’s only the coach who knows who will start. We have to be ready for Sunday,” Sagna said.

“We have a lot of qualities. I think everybody has the capacity to be here.

“Mangala is ready. Umtiti is someone I have discovered here who has a lot of qualifies. The coach makes his choice and that’s it.”

Sagna’s Etihad Stadium colleagues Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling were among those to bear the brunt of criticism over England’s second-round exit at the hands of France’s next opponents.

Goalkeeper Hart was culpable for two of the four goals England conceded, including Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s winner for Iceland, while Sterling struggled badly for form and confidence.

“Honestly, I don’t know [what happened with England], Sagna said. “It’s a young team, very talented – I’ve had the chance to play with some of them.

“It’s been a shock. I think it’s a shock for their country. England is England.

“I think there are a lot of people in England who underestimated Iceland. A lot of people were talking about the eventual match between England and France and they took a big slap in the face.

“The criticism is a little too harsh against the players. But when we lose we have to accept that.”

He added: “It’s going to change a lot of things for the England team. They have to find another coach, work on the basics and work out how to handle the pressure better as well.”

Fri 1 Jul, 2016
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