Manchester City Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of April 21
"But wait," City fans might say. "If Liverpool lose to Chelsea and we win out, we tie on points and it comes down to goal difference, where we lead by two!"
Yeah, the book knows all about that.
The book also knows that City have dropped points in their last two matches and still have their annual humiliation against Everton at Goodison Park on the slate.
Even if they beat West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad, the mathematics just are not in City's favor. Especially if Liverpool manages even a draw at Anfield against Chelsea.
No one in sky blue much wanted to have serious discussions about the summer transfer window in late April.
Unfortunately, given City's position in the table and the tattered nature of their squad these days, such conversations must take place.
Until Lionel Messi signs a contract extension at Barcelona, his name is going to end up in summer transfer news items because he is one of the biggest names in world football.
Many of those news items will tie him to Manchester City, because City are one of the few clubs who could possibly afford to pay whatever insane ransom, er, transfer fee Barcelona would demand. Not to mention Messi's wages.
Kirsten Schlewitz of Pro Soccer Talk brings us one of the first Messi-to-City stories:
Manchester City are set to spend around $420 million for the Argentine, who’s yet to put pen to paper on a contract extension with Barcelona. Should they succeed, the transfer would far outstrip the fee Real Madrid paid for Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale, more than tripling the $132 million paid by the Spanish side.
Messi is exceedingly unlikely to ever leave Barcelona, as Schlewitz concedes later in her piece. Which is just as well.
No one player in world football is worth that sort of money. Ask Real Madrid how the Bale thing is going if you are unconvinced.
Manchester City's midfield, long considered the team's greatest strength, looks much less so as this mildly disappointing season winds down.
Yaya Toure and David Silva missed City's last match, a draw with Sunderland that slew-footed City's Premier League title chances. Jesus Navas is also hurt. Samir Nasri missed time earlier in the season.
Then you have guys like Javi Garcia and James Milner who are not first choices for manager Manuel Pellegrini even when they are healthy.
City could do a lot worse than adding Tiote to their uneven array in the midfield.
Manchester City's unsuccessful bid for Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala looks to be an unfinished story.
Ben Jefferson of the Express reported recently that "while the January deal (for Mangala) would see £30 million paid up front accompanied by a series of bonus payments depending on appearances and success, the deal this summer will centre around a £37 million fee paid outright."
City desperately need reinforcements on the back line. Martin Demichelis' play has improved to the extent that he might even be brought back as a reserve, but City's plans for Champions League play cannot again feature Demichelis prominently.
"While no deal has currently been signed, reports suggest it would be a shocking turn of events if the 23-year-old was not plying his trade at the Etihad next season," Jefferson added.
One of the worst-kept secrets about Manchester City's defense is the hole they have at left-back.
City's Champions League chances were heavily damaged by repeated Barcelona forays right at Gael Clichy. Aleksandar Kolarov is not an upgrade defensively over Clichy, either.
That is why City are probably going to pack a truck full of pound notes this summer, drive them to Southampton, and see if the Saints will let Shaw go.
"As Shaw signed a new five-year deal with Southampton last summer the south-coast club are likely to start the bidding at around £35 million but may have to settle for a fee in the region of £30 million," Jamie Jackson recently wrote for the Guardian.
Again, City's left-back problem is no secret: "Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, has signalled his lack of confidence in Gael Clichy or Aleksandar Kolarov by deciding neither is an automatic selection," Jackson added.
If Shaw is in fact available, Clichy and Kolarov can compete to back him up.