• Premier League

Manchester City to assess Japan midfielder

ESPN staff
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Roberto Mancini is looking to build Man City's future © PA Photos
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Shimizu S-Pulse midfielder Hideki Ishige is to spend a spell at Manchester City early next year, but his manager has denied that the Premier League champions have made an offer to sign him.

Ishige, 18, has attracted attention after a string of fine performances helped his club reach the Nabisco Cup final and put together a fine run of league results. He will spend time at and train with City in January, and has also attracted attention from a number of European clubs.

Shimizu manager Afshin Ghotbi said he was determined to keep Ishige at the club but wanted him to experience other football cultures.

"If you want to build top-class players, you have to give them various experiences and opportunities to see at first hand what the world level is about," he explained.

"What better experience for Ishige than to train with the first team of Manchester City, the champions of England, and have [Roberto] Mancini see him at first hand?"

Ghotbi, a former coach of Iran's national team, said Ishige was a "real fantastic talent" who merited the interested being shown in him. But he stressed: "As far as I'm concerned, he's not for sale and we want him to be a part of S-Pulse for the next few years to come.

"There has been no offer. City just want to see him, and we are doing the same with other players with other clubs."

He said Ishige was a "perfect example" of the high quality of young players in Japan and predicted increasing interest from European clubs in Japanese players.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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