Castillo joins struggling Aris
- 25 January 2011 12:31
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
Aris Thessaloniki have parted company with one familiar face but recruited another as they prepare to tackle City in their Europa League round of 32 tie next month.
Nery Castillo, the Mexican attacking midfielder who had a spell with the Blues under Sven-Goran Eriksson, has joined our upcoming Greek rivals on loan until the end of the season from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Castillo, now 26, didn't have the best of times in England - he was stretchered off with a broken shoulder on his home debut against West Ham - and headed back to the Ukraine at the end of the season after just nine games and no goals.
Aris won't be able to tap into the considerable European experience of Hector Cuper when City arrive for the first leg on February 15 - the former Valencia boss has left the club, currently sitting tenth in the table.
Cuper, who reached the Champions League final with Valencia, said: "The board tried to change my mind, but this is best for everybody. I genuinely believe that my decision will help the club move forward and improve results."
Should City get past the Greeks - who tackle third-placed PAOK on Sunday - Roberto Mancini's men already know that they must overcome Istanbul outfit Besiktas or Dynamo Kiev to reach the draw for the quarter-finals.
Besiktas have stormed into the second half of the Turkish season after their winter break, delighting coach Bernd Schuster with a crushing 5-1 win over Bucaspor that saw former Real Madrid favourite Guti score twice.
Schuster said: "This match was really important to us, so I am happy that everything worked out fine. Our new signings were making their debut but they played like they’d been with us for ages and surprised everyone."
Interestingly, Besiktas - who fielded new boys Simao Sabrosa and Hugo Almeida - paraded a new grey kit. Grey has been seen as a problem colour in the past, but the Turkish side clearly had no problems picking each other out.
Meanwhile, no fewer than seven Dynamo players, including 21-year-old striker Artem Kravets, have been called up to the Ukraine squad for an international tournament in Cyprus on February 8 and 9.