THE EURO FILES: Manchester City lite? Maybe, but Girona’s irresistible rise is nothing short of a modern fairytale… PLUS, Harry Kane has an unlikely Golden Boot rival in the Bundesliga

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Multi-club ownership is about as romantic as a non-disclosure agreement slipped into a marriage contract.

So why is City Group-owned Girona’s rise to the top of LaLiga after seven games a story that captures the imagination?

It’s because sometimes it’s not what you do but the way that you do it. Yes, they signed 19-year-old Brazilian winger Savio from fellow City Group enterprise Troyes on loan when the French side were relegated to Ligue II last summer. 

And yes, if he continues to be the unplayable revelation of the first two months of the season, he may well end up at Manchester City.

But try telling Girona supporters that’s a problem. This is only their fourth season watching their team in the top flight and they have never seen anything like the left-footed winger.

Girona have enjoyed an irresistible rise this season and currently sit second in the LaLiga table

Girona have enjoyed an irresistible rise this season and currently sit second in the LaLiga table

The in-form Spanish club would have headed into Saturday's clash with Real Madrid at the summit of LaLiga were it not for Barcelona's late 1-0 victory over Sevilla on Friday evening

The in-form Spanish club would have headed into Saturday’s clash with Real Madrid at the summit of LaLiga were it not for Barcelona’s late 1-0 victory over Sevilla on Friday evening

And is Savio being moved around City Group’s clubs any worse than him being controlled by an unscrupulous agent who changes his team every season for economic gain?

Who cares that Girona have to play a similar style to Manchester City? You won’t hear the supporters complaining when their team outscore Saturday’s opponents Real Madrid to the tune of 18 goals to 15 this season. Only Barcelona have scored as many.

Nobody groans, ‘We are like a cheap Manchester City’, when left back Miguel Gutierrez, brought in from Real Madrid last year, makes another excursion into midfield to link with Aleix Garcia, who joined from City in 2019.

The football they play is as good as any seen throughout the league and it is underpinned by a sense of stability that saw them hire coach Michel in 2019 because he coached the way they wanted to play, and stick with him after a difficult start.

Michel’s insistence on attractive, attacking football had seen him lead two teams into the top flight but both times he was unable to keep them up.

Sixteen games into his first season at Girona they were 13th in the second division, 18 points off the top. But they kept him in charge and he brought them up via the play-offs.

Boss Michel Sanchez (above) has instilled a brand of attractive and attacking football in Girona

Boss Michel Sanchez (above) has instilled a brand of attractive and attacking football in Girona

Girona are part of the City Group enterprise, a multi-club ownership group piloted by Sheikh Mansour (above) which governs several teams including Premier League champions Man City

Girona are part of the City Group enterprise, a multi-club ownership group piloted by Sheikh Mansour (above) which governs several teams including Premier League champions Man City

Last season they went into the final game with a chance of Europe. This season, they’ve already relished time at the top of the league, and would have stayed there ahead of this weekend had Sevilla not lost 1-0 to Barcelona on Friday night.

Ukraine internationals Artem Dovbyk and Viktor Tsyhankov are shrewd signings and Girona have cultivated a beneficial relationship with Barcelona, signing highly-rated 20-year-old midfielder Pablo Torre and Spain international Eric Garcia on loan, while selling 31-year-old former Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu to them for €3.4million.

Work will be finished in 2025 on a training ground that will be the second biggest facility in the City Group. It will be called City Football Academy Girona and that’s a reminder to the 11,500 supporters who fill the municipal stadium every other week that they are riding high on the wings of a much bigger beast.

Brazil's teenage wonderkid Savio (above) has been a star player for Girona this season and appears to be destined for greatness

Brazil’s teenage wonderkid Savio (above) has been a star player for Girona this season and appears to be destined for greatness

But down the road there is a reminder of how it can also go the other way when a club are taken over. Espanyol ought to be the region’s second club. They have won the Spanish Cup four times and reached two European finals.

In 2016 they were taken over by Chen Yansheng and the new Chinese owner said he wanted Champions League football in three years. With no coherent strategy and 10 managers later, the club finds itself fourth in the second division.

Girona are far closer to that Champions League dream and, after UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin relaxed rules on clubs that share owners competing in the same European competition, they will be allowed into the draw with Manchester City if they finish in the top four.

There is a dystopia to be avoided at all costs that would see an ever greater number of clubs in the possession of an ever smaller number of owners. And every case is different. The fans of Dutch club NAC Breda told the City Group where to go when, last year, they were floated as the next club to join the fold.

But at Girona they have been welcomed. And because of the football being played, the appreciation of what Girona are achieving has gone far beyond the club’s fanbase. And that fanbase is growing.

Delfi Geli, president of Girona, says he’s most proud of the way more and more children are going to school wearing Girona shirts. Before, those shirts would have been Barca ones. That’s where the fairytale kicks in.

Guinea ace is outscoring even Harry

Harry Kane has an unlikely rival for the top-scorer prize in Germany.

While Kane was racking up 213 goals in 320 appearances in the Premier League, Serhou Guirassy, now at Stuttgart, was scoring just 56 times in 10 seasons.

But the French-born Guinea international, signed from Rennes for €9million in the summer, has scored 10 goals in five games this campaign. 

Kane’s seven goals so far place him second in the scoring charts behind the Guinea ace

Guirassy has scored 10 goals in five games for Stuttgart his campaign

Serhou Guirassy (right) has emerged an unlikely rival to Harry Kane (left) for the Golden Boot

No one has done that since Robert Lewandowski — and he didn’t do it in his first 10 games for his club.

Kane’s seven goals see him second in the charts. If the 27-year-old Guirassy’s form persists, the England captain has a worthy rival.

Osimhen’s in Europe’s shop window

Napoli host Real Madrid at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Tuesday and the narrative writes itself because Madrid don’t have a central striker, at least not one manager Carlo Ancelotti trusts, and Napoli have one who isn’t happy.

The bizarre video on Napoli’s official TikTok account making fun of Victor Osimhen’s penalty miss in the 0-0 draw with Bologna may just have been the social media manager going rogue, but the back story suggests so much more.

Osimhen top-scored for the Italian champions last season and Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis vowed to renew his contract to 2027, telling Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal that their €200million bid would not buy the Nigerian’s left foot.

That contract renewal has not materialised and, when Osimhen was taken off by new Napoli coach Rudi Garcia last Sunday, he raised two fingers to the manager, complaining about the decision not to leave him on and play two up front.

The subsequent video that ridiculed Osimhen, giving him a squeaky voice pleading with the referee to give him a penalty — the one he then missed — was enough for Osimhen to take online revenge by unfollowing Napoli on Instagram.

The bizarre video on Napoli’s official TikTok account making fun of Victor Osimhen could see the Nigerian striker ultimately leave the club, with him now firmly in Europe's shop window

The bizarre video on Napoli’s official TikTok account making fun of Victor Osimhen could see the Nigerian striker ultimately leave the club, with him now firmly in Europe’s shop window

He then scored in Napoli’s midweek win over Udinese and Garcia glossed over Osimhen’s muted celebration, urging everyone to move on.

But all is not well at the club that won the Scudetto last season under Luciano Spalletti. 

The other big star of that success, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, has also been taken off by Garcia in recent matches. Nigeria manager Jose Peseiro appeared in the Spanish press on Friday saying the striker could play for Real Madrid or any of Europe’s top clubs. 

All eyes were on Napoli last season because of the football they were playing. Everyone is watching them now to see if things unravel and there are big players for sale as a consequence.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

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Post source: Daily mail

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