Big-Money Buys on Manchester City's Radar
While in Hong Kong as part of City’s globe-straddling preseason jaunt, Manuel Pellegrini said his squad was “not absolutely complete”, picked up by Sky Sports among others.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this, coming after the spending of around £90m on Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic, would herald another instalment of what has become a familiar episode of the transfer window—the big-money arrival at the Etihad Stadium.
But nothing’s happened as yet—and I sense a subtle shift in the dynamic of City’s business. The new arrivals, good players all, are not “big names” and City have, I think, dispensed with the hoopla of their expansion years when they “swooped” for Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Sergio Aguero et al (to misquote the Life of Brian, "I should know, I saw a few…")
Despite the price tags, City seem intent on skilled but low-ish profile players.
So who could they yet go for?
The Daily Express man, a veteran of the press pack in England’s north–west football hotbed, mentioned the rumour of Joleon Lescott heading out with a year on his contract—but since then Matija Nastasic has been ruled out for at least a month with an ankle injury picked up on the Hong Kong gluepot that passed for a pitch in the fixture against Sunderland.
Time’s elapsed, and still no Pepe as yet. He would lend experience and nous, and played against City in last season’s two Champions League matches. But at 30 he would be a pricey stop–gap, and Lescott is still a decent defender who could claim his spot back for now.
However, with Kolo Toure gone and the promising Karim Rekik on loan, some cover would make sense.
One alternative thrown around a bit is Mamadou Sakho of Paris St-Germain. Liverpool have also been linked with the 23-year-old who has been pushed down the pecking order after the arrival of Marquinhos at the Parc des Princes.
He would represent a long-term investment; but could Pellegrini instead look within his squad for central defensive cover?
Dedryck Boyata looked the part when Roberto Mancini plucked him out of nowhere early in his reign, but more recently the young Belgian has failed to make his mark on loan at Bolton and FC Twente.
He has featured in preseason, but that could have been a case of “needs must”. Javi Garcia did play there last season, not convincingly, and Micah Richards has miles on the clock at centre-half.
Anzhi Makhachkala are seemingly intent on balancing their books, and Brazilian midfielder Willian is one of their big names linked with a move to the Premier League, with City inevitably one of the English clubs mentioned.
Keen-eyed Rob Parker of Off The Post reports that ESPN Brazil claim that City have already bid an eye-watering £34m for Willian. If it happens, one or two will have to be moved off City's wage bill.
The Benfica striker looks to be done with the Portuguese giants, and Sky's Paulo Freitas recently claimed that although City were interested, they were yet to make a bid.
The Paraguayan is 30, and with Jovetic and Negredo having been added to Dzeko and Aguero in the forward department it seems highly unlikely that City would be that close to making an offer.
The Blues also have Swedish striker John Guidetti in their ranks. Promising, but untested in the Premier League, Guidetti may have to make his mark at City this year if it is to ever happen—but after last season was ruined by injury and illness, the club may ship him out on loan for game time rather than have him languish on the fringes.