The Eastlands' Departure Lounge
If there's one thing which is seemingly impossible in football, it is keeping the name 'Manchester' out of transfer rumours.
This has been true throughout the Premier League's history since its inception, though the usual 'Manchester United' tag associated with most big money transfers is now replaced by the 'Manchester City' tag.
Ever since letting go of Ronaldo and Tevez last season, United have been labeled as a selling club, even though United have spent considerably more on incoming players rather than earning much on outgoing ones.
However, given the state of transformation the City squad is currently in, it would not surprise me to see various players being sold by the club in the current transfer window, primarily to accommodate the new signings.
Hence, I have compiled a list of players who will in all possibility be sold to make room for the new signings being made by Roberto Mancini to challenge for top honours in the new season. Will City be labeled a selling club, given that most of the players in this list were signed for exorbitant amounts?
Given the expenditure which will happen for signings, perhaps no one will even dare to think along those lines.
Given his performances in the second half of the season, Adebayor certainly looks out of sorts at City.
Compared to some amazing performances from Tevez, Adebayor almost looked lost on the pitch, unable to effectively link up or communicate with his teammates.
He also did not adapt well to the 4-3-3 formation used by Mancini, and can be blamed for a number of missed chances in front of goal when it would have been easier to score.
Since he seems fairly unsettled, Mancini might want to cash in on him, given that City have been linked to a number of strikers in the market, most notably Ibrahimovic, Dzeko and Torres.
While Torres might not move to City, Ibrahimovic just might, given that he played well enough in the Barcelona system, which itself is a 4-3-3. Of course, for the Catalunya faithful, a return of 20 goals from 41 games wasn't good enough, and Ibrahimovic has already played under Mancini at Inter, so they have a good working relationship.
Dzeko, of course, is the current flavour of the season, now that Villa has signed with Barcelona, and his club are looking at a big price move for the Bosnian.
While most clubs would balk at the loss in such a transfer, since Adebayor will not be priced anything beyond the 15m GBP mark, City's huge financial backing means that the club can take a number of such hits in the outgoing transfers.
However, it remains to be seen if the club will let go of the talented forward after just one season, since he has not really shown discontent at being used as a substitute. He can be one of City' three or four main forwards should one of Dzeko, Ibrahimovic or Torres be signed and a few players sold.
A high priced failure if there was one, Lescott became the second most expensive Premiership defender when brought from Everton for almost 23m GBP.
After almost a year, it looks like the worst investment the club could have made (United's expenditure on Berbatov seems like a successful investment compared to this farce).
He barely featured half a season, and even when he was fit, the youngster Boyata or Kompany were preferred ahead of him in central defense.
With the signing of Jerome Boateng, his position has become even more strenuous, since the versatile German defender can play all across the defense, in addition to being young at just 22.
Plus, his signing and Lescott's departure will also result in huge savings in the wages budget, even though the club will make a massive loss in transfer fees, since Lescott will barely cost anything more than eight-ten million GBP at this point.
Right now, Lescott seems to be one of the definite departures from Eastlands, but with no definite target clubs looking to sign him.
Should no interest materialize for his services, he will be rendered a squad player at best in the current City setup.
Considered one of the best young defenders in England and a definite future England international, Richards' future at City hangs in the balance since he was continually played as a right back last season, even though he is a centre back and plays in the same position for the England U-21 side.
He has expressed his displeasure at being played out of position at times last season. This has not gone down well with Mancini.
While he has deputized well at right back, yet, a few high profile mistakes, such as letting Owen remain onside for his winning goal in the Manchester derby, have dwindled his stock in the club's eyes.
Along with the signing of Boateng, this has meant that Richards has became somewhat surplus to requirements at Eastlands.
Despite being a City Academy graduate, he has been linked to rivals Manchester United, who just might sign him in case Vidic leaves and Ferdinand's persistent battles with injuries continue during the preseason.
While players are usually not expected to sign for rivals, City's new status means they can be generous, with Richards' asking price being around 10m GBP, a standard for defenders of his age and ability.
Another product of the famed Manchester City Academy, Ireland has perhaps suffered from the 'second-season' syndrome, which means that he had an amazing debut season in the first team and then slumped badly in the second.
Well, he did have to contend with injuries for the first half of the season, and in the next half, the new manager had chosen a formation which did not suit him.
The problem is, the manager and the formation will remain, with players finally being brought to suit the formation. This means that the central attacking midfielder, unfortunately, no longer fits into City's plans. A move is definitely in the cards for a player who had been expected to be one of City's best for years to come after being voted the Player of the Season by the club and its fans in his debut season.
Another player linked with Manchester United, who have been on the lookout for a replacement for Scholes and have been heavily linked with a 12m GBP move for him in the past.
Again, City might or might not have a problem selling a player to their fierce rivals.
One of City's fans' favourites and perhaps their most fiesty player, Bellamy has adapted brilliantly at being played as an attacking left winger in City's 4-3-3 formation, even though he has almost always played as a striker for most clubs he has been at. His adaptability and versatility meant that he was a fixed First XI starter last season, and expected to remain so for years to come.
However, a fallout with manager Mancini, as well as the signing of David Silva, who plays in the same position, has meant that Bellamy has done everything to leave the club, short of handing in a transfer request.
He has been linked to a number of Premier League clubs as well as clubs in his native country, as he has spoken of retiring at a club there. He should be available for around 15m GBP, though Mancini has said that he wants Bellamy to remain, since, along with Tevez, he remains City's most potent attacker.
Shaun Wright Philips
The right wing player has often featured for City as a substitute for Johnson or Adebayor, depending on who was deployed on the right in City's 4-3-3 formation.
Considering that City are going to pretty much settle on an adaptable 4-5-1 formation from next season, one would have thought that he would be a perfect fit for the club.
However, a series of underwhelming performances, along with a demand for a better contract and the imminent signing of James Milner, have meant that City have decided to let go of the player, and will not charge too much for his transfer.
Arsenal are among the players linked to him, though it is doubtful that Wenger would make an investment on Philips, considering the attacking options he can deploy on the right wing if required.
A destination is not clear for the player at present, though a fee of more than six million GBP would be surprising for him.
Roque Santa Cruz
Blackburn's player of the season before he was signed by City, Santa Cruz came as a prolific, though injury-prone, striker to Eastlands. However, he has spent more time on the treatment table rather than on the pitch, and has contributed goals in single digits last season, despite having a 17m GBP transfer fee.
Given City's revamp and formation change, it makes little sense for the club to keep an injury prone striker on the bench when they can easily sign a much more dependable striker at almost any price.
This especially holds true since the club are being continually linked with Wolfsburg's Dzeko, who can be one of three or four main forwards which City will want to have, along with Tevez and either Adebayor or Ibrahimovic.
Again, the player will be sold at a loss, but surely clubs in Serie A or the Bundesliga, from where Rovers signed him, would prefer to sign him, due to the comparatively less physical nature of those leagues.
Nigel De Jong
The most fiercely combative defensive midfielder in City's ranks, De Jong is also the defensive midfield mainstay of the Dutch team, in pairing with Van Bommel. At City, his is the first choice pairing with Gareth Barry, with Viera and Kompany as backups.
However, Yaya Toure's imminent arrival and greater experience at the highest level (he is a Champions' League winner with Barcelona) means that De Jong might just be surplus to requirements at Eastlands. Even though Viera should be the one leaving, especially since De Jong is having a pretty good World Cup till now.
However, Viera is a Mancini signing, and is an Inter loyalist from Mancini's time there. So, he will definitely not be sold, nor will be Gareth Barry, since he does setup good attacks from his position when on form.
City might ask for something close to 15m GBP for the combative midfielder should his excellent World Cup outing continue, though it seems it will end at the hands of Brazil.
Anyhow, City should be able to recoup most of their investment on him. His most likely destination will be a club in the Bundesliga.
The Premier League transfer record, and the first signing to indicate City's new found wealth and status, Robinho was signed to showcase City to the world as a major footballing force.
For six months, Robinho did this admirably as he hit the League running, scoring and creating goals for fun as he tormented defenses with his skill and pace. Then, the slump and the mood swings happened, and the Brazilian's form left him, never to return in City's colours.
Transferred on loan to his home club Santos for six months, Robinho rapidly rediscovered his form and touch, and has been an exacting weapon for Brazil in the World Cup, looking increasingly like the world-beater he was supposed to be, setting up several goals, leading counter-attacks, and finally scoring with a beautiful first time shot.
However, this rediscovery has meant that the player does not wish to return to City (especially after Silva's transfer, who plays the same position, was confirmed), and hopes to be signed by Barcelona, since Santos cannot afford his wages (his wages while there were still being paid by City).
However, Barcelona have shown no interest whatsoever, so it remains to be seen as to which club the temperamental attacker will move to.
Perhaps a shock transfer to Manchester United (Sir Alex Ferguson is known for dealing with massive egos and getting them to play admirably for him) at a reduced price, even after a successful World Cup, might be beneficial to all involved, since City will be rid of him.
The player would have moved to a 'successful' club, as he wants, and United will have their marquee signing, along with the added advantage of getting a player who fulfills United's long-standing requirement of creativity and flair on the left wing, since that is Robinho's position in the Brazil team.
Of course, there is no guarantee that all these transfers will take place.
However, along with these, there are several other fringe players, such as Nedum Onuoha, Jo, and Benjani, who will be allowed to move on, as City revamp their squad to adhere to FA's new squad rules. They will also look to challenge for the title as well as the automatic Champions' League qualifying positions (finishing third or higher).
The proposed signings (Dzeko, Milner, Toure) all fulfill the various holes which will be left by the aforementioned departures.
This means that the City squad, at the end of a successful pre-season, should have a well-settled look about it. I think the added quality will certainly make the club a strong contender for the Premier League title itself.
A battle royale is in the cards with eternal rivals Manchester United in the Manchester derbies. Roll on, 14th August, let the hostilities begin!!!!