'Motivated' Mangala Excited To Join 'Ambitious' Blues

by Paul McNamara

Eliaquim Mangala says he is “fresh, fit and motivated” and “very excited” to be joining an Everton team full of “quality and ambition”.

The France international defender will spend the remainder of the 2017/18 campaign with the Blues after completing a deadline-day loan move from Premier League leaders Manchester City, subject to Premier League clearance.

The 26-year-old has won three league titles in two countries and was an instrumental figure in the City team which reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2016.

Mangala has featured in 15 matches for Pep Guardiola’s City this term and could make his Everton debut in the Premier League clash with Arsenal on Saturday.

“Everton is a very good team with quality players, and I want to play in a team that has a lot of quality and ambition,” Mangala told evertontv.

“I want to bring my experience and all my energy. There is already quality and experience at the Club but it is very important for me to come here and add something more to the team.

“I am fresh and fit and very motivated – and I am very excited about showing my qualities here.

“I am ready to play and ready to win games – like tonight [the 2-1 victory over Leicester City], that is the most important thing for me."

Mangala has been capped eight times by France and was part of his country’s squad at both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship finals.

He made his professional debut as a 17-year-old with Standard Liege in December 2008 and won the league title in his first season with the Belgian club.

Mangala was playing regular Champions League football before his 19th birthday and scored in Standard’s Belgian Cup final victory over Westerlo in 2011 on what proved to be his farewell appearance for the club before joining Portuguese giants FC Porto.

The athletic centre-half was a key cog in the Porto side which pieced together an unbeaten 2012/13 league campaign and conceded only 14 goals on the way to retaining its domestic crown – Mangala’s second title success in Portugal.

A star of Porto’s 2013/14 run to the Europa League quarter-finals, he was bought by Manchester City in August 2014 and has played 79 matches for the club.

Mangala will train with his new teammates for the first time on Thursday and is delighted he will be joining a buoyant group following the precious Goodison Park triumph over Leicester.

“It is always good for the confidence and atmosphere when the team is winning” said Mangala. "It is good to develop the winning habit. When you win, everything is easier and it was very important to win against Leicester.

“As a defender, I am very solid, I like to challenge. Clean sheets are the most important thing. I have the mentality at the start of every game that we are not going to concede. That is the basic for a back-four – then, if you are very stable at the back, it is easier for the whole team.

“You cannot win every game 2-0 or 3-0, sometimes you have to win 1-0. To do that, you have to be solid at the back.”

Mangala’s outlook ties in with that of boss Sam Allardyce, who places a premium on his team being defensively resilient.

The left-sided centre-back – who played 30 times in La Liga on loan with Valencia last season – has operated under a number of distinguished bosses in his career, notably serial-winner Guardiola and France coach Didier Deschamps.

And he says he will be working under another first-rate manager at Everton, having charted Allardyce’s success in the Premier League with the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Crystal Palace.

“You can see with all the teams he has managed, they have always had a great spirit, he is very good at building this type of atmosphere,” said Mangala, whose Valencia side inflicted one of only three league defeats suffered by Spanish and European champions Real Madrid last term.

“Sometimes, it is difficult to make all the qualities in a squad work in the same direction.

“He is doing very well and it is very important to keep that going until the end of the season.

“That is the important thing – to have the same goals and objectives as the manager. It is very important for me and the team. It makes the game easier.”

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