The summer transfer window is looming and once again Manchester City are expected to be the Premier League’s big spenders. It seems no target has been too audacious since new owners transformed them into the world’s richest club, and now with time of their side for the first time, you can expect big, box office names to be targeted.
But after the Kaka debacle last January, City can’t afford another embarrassment if they wish to gain entry into the European football elite in the next few years. In my opinion, they should forget the superstars this year and concentrate on realistic targets that will catapult them back into European football next season and give them a platform to build on. With that in mind, here is my breakdown the five players Mark Hughes should be aiming to sign this summer.
Brede Hangeland (Fulham)
With Richard Dunne’s form bizarrely missing in action last season, and Micah Richards looking more like the next Titus Bramble than the future England regular he was tipped to be, signing a dominating centre back is essential. Hangeland has had a wonderful season for Fulham and isn’t short of admirers, but if he could be prised from the grip of the big four, he could prove to be the backbone for Hughes to build his defence around.
Scott Parker (West Ham)
City were linked to the English midfielder during the last January transfer window, and he’s very much seen as a “Hughes” player. Someone who will put a work hard in midfield and win tackles to help balance the flair of the Brazilians in the side. It is true Parker hasn’t exactly excelled when making the step up to larger clubs, but he’s been the standout performer this season in a West Ham midfield that has at time choked the life out of their opposition. Despite Franco Zola’s successful start to management, there still is a feeling that at West Ham no one is off the market, and with City’s financial muscle Parker would surely end up at Eastlands should Hughes resume his interest.
Aliaksandr Hleb (Barcelona)
His non-inclusion in Barcelona’s Champion’s League final squad could be the final straw for Hleb. The former Arsenal man has already stated he isn’t interested in spending the best years of his career warming the bench at Barca, so the promise of first team football and a big contract might tempt him back into the Premier League. He was instrumental in Arsenal’s early season title bid in his last season at the Emirates, with his ability to hurt teams from the flanks. He’s got a good Premier League pedigree, and should come relatively cheap if Barca are keen to offload him.
Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn)
Despite a pretty awful second season at Blackburn which only saw him net four league goals, the Paraguay international doesn’t seem to be short of suitors. While City’s roster boasts some impressive attacking options, their squad is also bulging with average centre forwards. Santa Cruz could be the man to complete their attack. At Blackburn it was Hughes who got the best out of him, and if fit and motivated, he could be the perfect choice to lead the line.
Universally recognized as Middlesbrough’s best player by a mile last season, Turkey’s caption gave everything he had to save his club from relegation but ultimately was done no favours by his teammates. Versatile and tenacious, he deserves to playing at the highest level come August. Last season Hughes sometimes struggled with some of the more questionable characters in his dressing room. Tuncay’s work ethic and willingness to never give up on a game until the final whistle could only have a positive effect on his teammates.