Manchester City Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of July 21
Manchester City's summer transfer period is suddenly coming down to their pursuit of one player.
If City acquire Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, the Sky Blues' summer dealings will be viewed as sensible and surgical.
If City miss on Mangala, though, there are sure to be questions about whether City's Financial Fair Play sanctions bit them even more quickly than anyone thought possible.
Finishing the summer with Bacary Sagna, Fernando and Bruno Zuculini as their only acquisitions would feel suspiciously like the ill-fated summer of 2012 to City supporters.
Another symptom of all this is the way so many of the following slides focus on players possibly leaving City rather than potentially coming in.
Manchester City's efforts to sign Eliaquim Mangala seem to have been going on since the end of the 2013-14 Premier League season.
This past week, it certainly appeared that City would announce that Mangala had signed with the Sky Blues.
"Manchester City are set to complete their summer spending with a £32 million deal for Porto and France centre-back Eliaquim Mangala in the next few days," wrote Richard Tanner of the Express last Monday.
A week later, we are still waiting for confirmation. That is not a good feeling for City supporters.
Matija Nastasic's possible end at Manchester City illustrates how ephemeral a professional athlete's security and status always are.
Nastasic was a presumptive starter at centre-back alongside Vincent Kompany entering the 2013-14 Premier League season. At 21, Nastasic looked to be a building block for the future that appreciated significantly from the £12 million he cost to acquire two summers ago.
Then Nastasic fell victim to a bad ankle injury on a water-logged pitch in a City friendly in Hong Kong last summer. From there, Nastasic's season became a series of visits to the trainer's room.
Now Nastasic might be used as a makeweight for City's proposed acquisition of Mangala.
Nastasic "had an injury-hit second season at City and the 21-year-old could find himself as the club’s fourth-choice centre-back," wrote Chris Wheeler for the Daily Mail. "City accept that Nastasic could be surplus to requirements."
This probably will not be the last you hear of this, but Yaya Toure says that he is staying at Manchester City—at least for now.
"I want to stay," said Toure, according to the Daily Mail's Adam Crafton. "I will always honour my contract. I don’t think about all this speculation. It’s a big pleasure to stay and enjoy the next season. The fans have always been good to me."
Crafton fairly and accurately depicted that the primary source of all the conjecture around Toure's unrest at City was Toure himself.
"Any speculation, of course, was entirely of the player’s making after he and his agent cultivated an image of a man unloved by his club and open to a move," Crafton added.
So this story may not be dead, but rather just resting awhile.
Speaking of "will he or won't he" City departures, here is an item on goalless-since-January striker Alvaro Negredo.
Negredo has two strikes—see what I did there?—against him with reference to his status at City.
First is that whole thing where he has not scored for City in about six months now. Second, City have that pesky Financial Fair Play issue coupled with their need to comply with homegrown player rules. Negredo is expensive and certainly not homegrown.
City would probably prefer to keep Negredo, but it remains to be seen whether they can actually afford to.
Manchester City's primary problem these days is that, given their Financial Fair Play woes, potential dealing partners are holding City up for every last pound they can pay.
The rationale seems to be that, since City cannot buy a handful of players at a clip anymore, the price for the one or two they really want—Mangala is an example—will be even dearer to them.
Everton might sell Ross Barkley to City, but the price for such a transfer will be prohibitive.
"It would take £50 million to prise away Barkley from Everton but if the old Manchester City are really back, that price tag will hold no fears," wrote Rob Bleaney in The Guardian.
No one asked, but my opinion is that, at that price, Barkley can stay on Merseyside and finish fifth again.
Manchester City can also play pricing games, it appears. Micah Richards would really like to play first-team football in the Premier League this season, and if he is not going to do it for City, then Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur would do.
According to Simon Mullock of the Mirror, though, City are going to make a loan deal to either of those league rivals very costly.
City are wise to hang a number like that on Richards. The right-back would be a competent substitute for City's Champions League squad and help the Sky Blues with their homegrown-player problem.
Richards has understandably chafed at languishing behind Pablo Zabaleta and now Bacary Sagna. However, it certainly appears that he will have to wait one more year to seek his fortunes elsewhere.