MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini continued his pre-season spending spree by signing Serbia defender Aleksandar Kolarov from Lazio on Saturday.
Mancini had been keen on Kolarov for several months and completed a deal for the highly-rated left-back after Lazio accepted an offer of around 19 million pounds.
Kolarov, 24, had already been granted a work permit and put pen to paper on a five-year contract after passing a medical.
"I`m very excited to be at a great club like Manchester City. Even the training ground is fantastic, better than Lazio`s," the Serbian told the club`s official website.
"I`m coming back early next week to train with the players who aren`t touring America. I want to start as soon as I can, and I can`t wait to meet all the other guys.
"I had the opportunity to join other teams - the names are not important. When I spoke with Mr Mancini, my choice was Manchester City because I know they are a good team. I think maybe a great team.
"The Premier League is the best in the world and he wants us to go further and win the Premier title and the Champions League. For a young player like me, this is the best opportunity."
City`s Abu Dhabi-based owners have now backed Mancini with nearly 90 million pounds since the end of last season as they seek to establish the club as one of Europe`s superpowers.
Mancini had already spent 25 million pounds each on Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure and Valencia winger David Silva, as well as landing German defender Jerome Boateng from Hamburg for 15 million pounds.
The City boss is convinced Kolarov`s arrival will be a major boost as he tries mount a challenge for the Premier League title.
"He has the ability to play in numerous positions and is very good in midfield," said Mancini.
"This is an additional benefit to the team. He has a fantastic international career ahead of him. I first saw Kolarov in his Lazio debut back in 2007. I was impressed by the speed and strength of someone so young.
"I have watched him a lot since then and so have the Manchester City scouts. His attacking capability is very good. He is fast and can shoot with power and accuracy.
"He was composed on the ball, had an excellent delivery with his left foot and was technically very able."
Mancini also rejected reports that Kolarov`s arrival meant the end for England defender Wayne Bridge at Eastlands.
Liverpool have been linked with a move for Bridge, but Mancini insists he wants to keep the former Chelsea left-back at City.
"I want two top-class players for each position," he added.
BDST: 1551hrs, July 25, 2010