Could Stevan Jovetic (R) be joining City?
As Manchester City's season draws closer to its conclusion, they also draw closer to the summer transfer window. Given their "down" season, including losing their Premier League crown with four weeks to spare and their European embarrassment, reinforcements will surely be drafted in.
City officials will have been scouring the biggest markets in Europe, and their seemingly wide-open checkbook will make some moves easier. It becomes a matter of whether players want to jump straight for the money or pause to consider their futures.
City were relatively quiet last summer until the deadline, but with a squad sure to be in flux, they should not wait quite so long to move this time. Some of their biggest reported targets follow here, as we examine what kind of chances the club will have of getting their man.
Man in the spotlight: Isco.
Malaga starlet Isco has jumped to the top of many clubs' transfer lists since he burst onto the scene against Zenit in the Champions League. Not only was it the club's first experience in the competition, but it was the then-20-year-old's first taste of the big time.
He hasn't looked back since, guiding the Andalusian side to a quarterfinal appearance, where they went out in heartbreaking fashion. He also had Malaga flying high in the league for a while, though they have since slipped to sixth place in La Liga and are banned from UEFA play next year.
Though Isco penned a new deal in January, upping his release clause to €35 million, this lack of continental play may be a factor in the player's decision to leave. And with top club's swirling, City have to be considered one of the favorites to land young Mr. Alarcon.
Sporting director Txiki Begiristain will surely hold the Spaniard in high regard and will likely be willing to meet that price. He is reportedly stepping up his efforts to bring Isco to Manchester, and it'll likely come down to the player's mindset to determine whether this gets done.
Chances of joining: 65 percent
Christian Eriksen could lift even more silverware with City.
A playmaking alternative to Isco would be Ajax wonderkid Christian Eriksen. The Denmark international has made a name for himself during his time in Amsterdam, and he's helped his club to yet another Eredivisie title this season.
This season also saw him score at the Etihad in Champions League play, something that surely put City on high alert. With Samir Nasri's inconsistency pushing him toward an exit, a player of Isco or Eriksen's mold is what's needed.
Eriksen himself has hinted that he is likely to leave Ajax this summer, citing City as a possible landing spot. However, should the deposed Premier League champions wish to sign the starlet, they will have to fight it out with Liverpool, who also have a long-standing interest.
Eriksen provides a little something different from Isco, with a somewhat more direct style leading to 10 Eredivisie goals to his name this season. But he's still just as creative, so he can interchange well with David Silva while getting forward in support.
With his contract expiring in June 2014, Ajax may be forced to cash in on Eriksen sooner rather than later. City have the money to entice Eriksen, but Liverpool looms large and Isco seems to be the priority.
Chances of joining: 20 percent
Edinson Cavani (R) already looks good in light blue.
If you need a goal or three in a big spot, Edinson Cavani's a guy who you can call on to provide the goods. A hat-trick capped off a stellar performance for Napoli against Inter, a night sure to ramp up the transfer speculation.
His 26 goals in Serie A this season are running away with the Capocannoniere race, and it might cost clubs twice that amount in millions of pounds to prise him away from Naples. City have that kind of money, but are they willing to shell it out on one man?
A man of Cavani's quality, of course, could be very much worth that kind of investment. Real Madrid's £80 million purchase of Cristiano Ronaldo has worked out, but the £50 million Chelsea dropped on Fernando Torres works against the "big money" transfer.
City seemingly also have few qualms about paying the Uruguayan, with a wage likely to exceed £250,000 per week. Cavani would be a fantastic fit in City's system, and the club would look for him to have a van Persie-like impact in Manchester.
It comes down to Aurelio de Laurentiis, Napoli's outspoken owner. Will he up the price tag at the last minute to scare off the English side? Possibly.
Chances of joining: 30 percent
Stevan Jovetic could be an astute buy.
Should City not land Cavani, then Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic would be the perfect lower-cost alternative. The Montenegrin has grown in influence over the last couple of seasons, and as such, he has been pushed closer to the exit door by media outlets.
Fiorentina are on the outside looking in for Serie A's Champions League spots, trailing Milan by three points with three games to play. Should the Viola fall short, a sale of Jovetic could well be in order. And City will surely think of themselves as front-runners for his signature.
The Premier League stalwarts will certainly be able to offer Champions League football, as well as a healthy paycheck. Plus, thanks to the deal between these two clubs this past summer that brought Matija Nastasic to Eastlands, City reportedly have a right of first refusal on Jovetic.
Fellow Montenegro international Stefan Savic, who went the other way in the Nastasic deal, endured a poor season at the Etihad. However, he thinks City would be the best spot for his compatriot to ply his trade.
At a lower cost than Cavani with a potential for similar results, Jovetic could prove a great piece of business.
Chances of joining: 55 percent
Shakhtar's Fernandinho could be dueling with Chelsea in the Premier League.
Shakhtar Donetsk's ridiculous season has seen them steamroll domestic opposition, having dropped just nine (of a possible 81) points in league play. They also got out of a Champions League group that also featured title holders Chelsea and Serie A champs Juventus.
But this level of success hasn't stopped rumors of players leaving. Indeed, midfield talisman Fernandinho seems to be stoking the fires himself. Looking to crack Brazil's squad for the World Cup, he is intent on seeking out a move to City.
The Brazilian would make a solid addition to the City squad, providing a versatile presence alongside Yaya Toure. A deep-lying playmaker, he defends well while also being an excellent passer going forward. But as with other transfers on this list, it comes down to the money.
Shakhtar manager Mircea Lucescu is insisting that the Premier League giants stump up every last Euro in Fernandinho's release clause—a whopping €50 million. The player wants the move, and the club would likely welcome it, but this one is more up in the air.
Chances of joining: 15 percent