Manchester City fans have barely had time to celebrate a second Premier League title in three years before everyone seems to have moved on, including, it seems, plenty of their own players.
The rest of us have got a World Cup to look forward to, but whilst some of the vital members of that title-winning squad will be having a far more active part to play in Brazil, that hasn’t stopped them making eyes at potential suitors elsewhere.
We’ve seen Yaya Toure openly flirting with a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, per France Football (h/t The Telegraph), whilst Edin Dzeko has been putting the feelers out to see if anyone in Italy fancies making a move for him, per Corriere della Sera (h/t Sky Sports), and James Milner is another who seemingly wants out, per Ian Herbert of the Independent.
Those would be departures which would undoubtedly hit City hard but what about the changes that they can afford to make, and in some cases need to?
Aleksandar Kolarov is the latest Blues player to find himself as the target of affections from elsewhere, with the Daily Mirror's David Anderson reporting that returning Champions League side Monaco and Serie A trio Juventus, Roma and AC Milan all retain an interest in the Serbian.
There have been ups and downs, but Kolarov has largely been a good player for City since joining the club for around £19 million from Lazio in the summer of 2010, establishing himself as an important member of the squad, scoring some crucial and often spectacular goals and becoming a real go-to man for Manuel Pellegrini in some of the club’s bigger matches over the season just gone, particularly at home.
Now 28, though, Kolarov is entering the final year of his contract, and City might be wise to cash in on him at a time when interest is high.
Indeed, with the Milner problem—as well as the uncertain futures of Micah Richards, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair, who is still a City player believe it or not—highlighting the concerns that Pellegrini’s side have over keeping their number of homegrown players up to standard, the sale of Kolarov represents a perfect chance to kill two left-back-shaped birds with one stone.
Because the money raised from the sale of the Serb could be put toward a move for Southampton’s England youngster Luke Shaw, who would undoubtedly cost more but could conceivably be City’s left-back for the next decade.
With Gael Clichy regarded as a homegrown player due to his formative years with Arsenal, it would make sense to keep the Frenchman on as a support act for a player who won’t turn 19 until the day before this summer’s World Cup final, but the positives of a move for Shaw far outweigh the negatives.
Firstly there is the youngster’s quality, of which plenty have been left in no doubt of. Then comes the homegrown player reason and then, perhaps most importantly of all, comes the chance to rub Manchester United’s nose in City’s elevated status these days.
The red side of Manchester have made no secret of their pursuit of Shaw this summer, and at one stage appeared to be fairly confident that they could get their man before the deal stalled last week, per Jamie Jackson of the Guardian. The decision to award Patrice Evra a new contract suggests that backup plans have already been made and actioned.
A suggestion has been made that Shaw has already turned down City, as reported by Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, but the club surely are used to such brinkmanship by now and can get around that. Indeed, as mentioned in that Daily Mail report, a move for Ashley Cole would represent a good backup option.
But whilst Cole would guarantee a year or two of good service, Shaw could remain in the team for seasons to come, and City might well regret not taking this chance to snap him up.
The exit of Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton suggests that things could soon start moving quickly on the south coast, and so City might well want to make use of that interest in Kolarov and start planning for the future with a player who could make a serious impact in the present.