Manchester City have already spent £60m on strengthening their squad ahead of a run at Premier League and European success next season, but the money men in Manchester are nowhere near ready to close out their summer spree just yet.
Another midfield purchase could be on the way to Eastlands soon in the form of Aston Villa’s James Milner, but Roberto Mancini and Co. are also hot on the trail of a new striker to add to an already deep front line.
Two names that have been linked with City throughout the summer are Inter’s Mario Balotelli and VfL Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko. In speaking to Italian newspaper Il Giomale, Mancini played it as you’d expect, but his comments indicate that City will be ready to pounce on one or the other at the right time.
On Balotelli, Mancini said, ‘We are always interested in good players. If Inter decide to sell (Balotelli), we will be there.’
The City manager was a little more forward about Dzeko, but not by much, saying, ‘Certainly Dzeko is more than just an interest.’
Balotelli’s agent stated earlier this week that Inter have already rejected a bid from City for Balotelli, and even if that isn’t the case, I see it as unlikely that the 19-year-old leaves the San Siro this summer.
Balotelli possesses the talent and potential to be a star in the near future, but the major question marks about his maturity and attitude are why he has been linked with a move, and at the same time, why he needs to stay at Inter for at least another season or two.
Rafa Benitez showed last season with Albert Riera that he won’t tolerate open acts of petulance, so Balotelli will be on a short leash, and that’s just what he needs until he proves his maturity. And if he proves his maturity, the opportunities that he so desires will come. If he doesn’t, then we’ll see him on the move next summer, but with his age and what he’s capable of becoming in mind, it’s still too early for Inter to give up on him.
If Inter were to entertain the idea of selling Balotelli this summer, Mancini’s familiarity and relationship with Balotelli from his time at Inter could help Balotelli take that next step with his development. But at the same time, City’s depth up front means that opportunities won’t be nearly as plentiful as Balotelli might like, and given that lack of chances at Inter is something he’s openly complained about, it might not exactly be a match made in heaven at the present time.
While Balotelli oozes potential, Dzeko oozes production, and of the two, that‘s who City should focus on, with the present and the future in mind. Over the last two seasons, he has emerged as one of the deadliest strikers in Europe, scoring 48 goals in 66 league games for Wolfsburg. And at 24, he’s still young and has time to get even better. While Balotelli would take some time to give them a full return on their investment – if he ever did, that is, Dzeko can do so immediately and for several seasons to come.
City might need to move quickly if they’re to land Dzeko, as there have been reports this week that Juventus are ahead in the race to land the Bosnian star. But if it’s straight cash that Wolfsburg are looking for, City’s deep pockets would easily win out over any cash plus player offer that Juve might make.
Those aren’t the only two goal-getters on City’s wish list, so even if neither of these two wind up at Eastlands, Mancini won’t end up empty-handed in his striker search. As mentioned in today’s transfer rumors, City could be set to make a move for Chelsea’s Didier Drogba, and there’s also a report that they’ve lodged a bid for Liverpool’s Fernando Torres.
Who will be City’s newest striker? I’d lean Dzeko, since Wolfsburg seem to be looking to sell to the highest bidder and get as close to their asking price as they can, which gives City an edge over the competition. But at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being Drogba, given that Chelsea could be all too willing to push Drogba off on City to help put them in the clear to land Torres.