Manchester City Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of May 19
Championship chases normally cure what hurts a football club from a chemistry standpoint.
For the past few weeks, Manchester City's burst over the line to a second Premier League title in three seasons has quelled any unrest from squad members who may have felt underutilized.
But the champions' parade is long over and the streets of Manchester have been swept clean. Similarly in the past is the need for further happy pretense from players who want to leave the Etihad while the leaving is good.
After the recent UEFA Financial Fair Play action against City, this summer promises to be quieter than the last for City boss Manuel Pellegrini.
But City still have business to do if they do not want to fall behind their Premier League pursuers.
In football as in real estate, the three most important words are often "location, location, location."
Porto centre-back Eliaquim Mangala, long believed to be a serious Manchester City target in the summer transfer window, indicated recently that neither City nor Manchester United (or Liverpool for that matter) have much chance to sign him.
"I am an ambitious player and the team I would choose one that will allow me to win titles. I want to improve," said Mangala recently about a possible move to the Premier League, according to the Mirror's Neil McLeman.
Mangala's next sentence was the one that will chill City supporters' ardor for him. "The choice between Chelsea and Manchester City? I would say Chelsea because it is in London."
At 23, Mangala is proving that youth is wasted on the young. Why he would go to Chelsea and fight for playing time with John Terry and Gary Cahill when he can walk into the City XI next to Vincent Kompany is anyone's guess.
On second thought, let Mangala go to Chelsea. They don't need more defenders. They need to spend money on goal-creators. If Chelsea want to waste money on Mangala, by all means they should be encouraged to do so.
If the Eliaquim Mangala door is closing on Manchester City, perhaps the door on Stoke enforcer Ryan Shawcross is opening.
According to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, "Manchester City and Newcastle are showing interest in Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross. Manager Mark Hughes does not want to lose him but offers of around £12 million may be difficult to turn down."
City are a very well-constructed and efficient side. If the Sky Blues lack one thing, though, it is snarl. City are not a particularly mean or physical side.
Acquiring Shawcross, breaker of hearts and legs the United Kingdom over, would address that shortcoming right quick.
Shawcross has amassed 43 yellow cards and four red cards in 203 Premier League appearances. That is not an absurd number, given that Kompany has been shown 30 yellow cards and three red cards in 181 league appearances.
But watching Shawcross play is nothing like watching Kompany play. Kompany will go around the attacking player to get the ball.
Shawcross will go straight through the attacking player and the guy behind him, too. City could use a guy like Shawcross.
Manchester City could never have won the Premier League this season without Yaya Toure's immense contributions all season.
The massive Ivorian scored 20 league goals and more than once carried the Sky Blues when other stars (Sergio Aguero, David Silva et al) were injured. And he more or less won the League Cup final by himself.
So, naturally, Yaya wants to leave.
Sam Adams of the Mirror reports that "Manchester City star Yaya Toure is reported to want to quit the club. The Ivory Coast midfielder, 31, is even believed to be prepared to take a pay cut to return to his former club Barcelona."
Toure is not quoted in the Adams story, but Toure's agent is. "There's a big possibility Yaya will leave this summer. Yaya is very upset," said Dimitry Seluk.
Apparently this trouble stems from City's failure to properly acknowledge Yaya's 31st birthday on May 13.
If we are all being honest with each other, Yaya's future at City has always felt tenuous because it is no secret that his true football love is and will always be Barcelona.
Yaya will leave City some day. Sky Blues supporters just hope it will not be now.
Manchester City's ordinarily flush midfield is starting to spring more leaks than Henry and Liza's bucket.
Yaya Toure wants to leave because City did not get him a Hallmark birthday card, or some such nonsense. James Milner wants out of the Etihad because, frankly, he does not play often enough.
"Arsenal want to sign James Milner from Manchester City after the England midfielder informed the newly crowned Premier League champions he would like a transfer," wrote Daniel Taylor for The Guardian.
Milner's desire to leave is understandable. He would start for at least 75 percent of the Premier League's sides. (Here's looking at you, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.) But at City he is a stopgap who only gets regular action when Jesus Navas, David Silva or Fernandinho are injured.
"His complaint predominantly stems around his lack of matches, having started only 12 times in the league this season," Taylor continued.
Perhaps more troubling to Milner is that he came to City with the intent of playing central midfield, but "instead he has been largely used as a wide midfielder by Roberto Mancini and now Manuel Pellegrini," Taylor wrote.
City are apparently going to try to fix the Milner problem the best way they know how. With cash. Especially with the new Financial Fair Play restrictions UEFA recently slapped on the club, City can ill afford to lose a talented England man like Milner.
"City would be reluctant to lose Milner ... and hope the offer of a lucrative four-year contract will persuade him to change his mind," Taylor wrote.
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has a message for supporters of rival clubs who wish to see City suffer from UEFA's recent Financial Fair Play discipline.
"City want to sign defender Bacary Sagna on a free transfer from Arsenal," wrote Chris Wheeler for the Daily Mail. Even a free transfer will be costly where Sagna is concerned as he will be looking for a fat new contract.
Al Mubarak does not seem fazed by that or anything else. "I can tell you we know exactly what needs to be done, we know exactly the players that need to go and the players that need to come to the areas that need to be strengthened," Al Mubarak said. Money, or lack of it under FFP rules, did not come up.
He did indicate that whatever City plan to spend will not remain a secret for long. "Expect an efficient and swift execution plan," Al Mubarak noted.
It is on again at Manchester City.
Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott
Chris Wheeler's Daily Mail report on Manchester City's coming summer of activity also broke word of two notable departures from the club.
City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak "paid tribute to two City players who are now out of contract in Joleon Lescott and Gareth Barry and are set to leave this summer," Wheeler wrote.
Al Mubarak removed any doubt from City's intentions to let both players leave by praising them both so liberally.
Per Al Mubarak, Lescott "is a wonderful man. He has served this club loyally and he has had some of his best performances in his career here at Manchester City."
As for Barry, "Gareth is another one of those wonderful players that made a big career decision when he decided to join City. He was a loyal player in our squad, fully committed to our cause, had some phenomenal performances."
"And that's that," Al Mubarak did not say.