Another week, another set of additions to the Manchester City strikeforce. This week it was Carlos Tévez & Emmanuel Adebayor who made the move to Eastlands, swapping Big Four unhappiness for Big Four hopefulness for a combined fee of around £50m.
Tévez has a knack of endearing himself to fans of just about every club he plays for (and he is onto his fifth now, at the age of 25), and he wasted no time in firing a broadside at his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, rubbishing the Manchester United manager’s claims that he had done his utmost to keep the Argentinean at Old Trafford, and criticising his communication methods. Sensible PR move on the part of Carlitos it would seem, get the City fans onside without even having to buzz around the pitch like a hyperactive wasp. Clever boy.
Adebayor does not, it is fair to say, buzz around much. His is a more languid, pedestrian style- in truth it approached comatose status last season at times- but after a few days to mull over the contract on the (reinforced) table from City, the Togolese striker put pen to paper on a five-year contract, ending a three year stay at Arsenal that brought about 62 goals.
It makes it hard to predict City’s line up next season. Mark Hughes has already spent around £18m on Blackburn’s Roque Santa Cruz this summer, and shelled out around £14m on Craig Bellamy from West Ham in January. Throw in club record signing Robinho, last season’s star performer Stephen Ireland, and crowd favourite Shaun Wright-Phillips and you have a fair few options for Mark Hughes to consider.
And that is before we even mention Elano, Martin Petrov or Valeri Bojinov. And Ched Evans. It will be mightily interesting to see which of these players gets the nod when they run out at, ironically, Ewood Park on August 15th, with Hughes and Santa Cruz (and probably Bellamy too) set for a hostile reception no doubt.
Manchester City after Everton and Chelsea defenders
And Sparky is not finished there either, by the way. Having bumped his attacking options significantly, it seems now is the time to add a bit of steel further back. Gareth Barry, Vincent Kompany & Nigel De Jong should, theoretically, shore up the defensive side of midfield, but with Richard Dunne’s form dipping at an alarming rate, and Micah Richards’ development having slowed, Hughes is keen to add to England defenders to his ranks.
Joleon Lescott would seem the most likely, Everton have been immovable in their insistence that the former Wolves man will not be sold at any price, but when that price edges towards the £20m mark, for a player who cost a quarter of that two seasons ago, Bill Kenwright & David Moyes may just decide that it is a move worth taking. City’s decision to allow £18m striker Jô move to Goodison Park on a free loan deal may well come into play as negotiations for Lescott advance.
But if Lescott is a reasonable target, the second centre half targeted by Hughes would appear- at first glance anyway- to be ludicrous. England captain John Terry is known, annoyingly, in the press as “Mr Chelsea” due to his unwavering affection for the club, but reports are increasingly suggesting that even he could be tempted by the package on offer up north.
The unlikely duo of Hughes and keeper Shay Given have made a two pronged appeal to Terry to seek a “fresh challenge” (easily the most annoyingly banal transfer phrase on offer these days, replacing “undisclosed fee”), and sources close to Chelsea and Terry have mischievously claimed that the 29 year old is keen to swap royal blue for sky blue, and Champions League for Europa League. Expect fresh developments on this one in the coming fortnight or so.
Can Liverpool find a replacement for Alonso?
Down the M62 at Liverpool however, things are a little less exciting. Glen Johnson may have impressed on debut against St Gallen in midweek (an colourless, scoreless draw if you were interested), but there are more pressing issues for manager Rafael Benítez to worry about, namely midfielder Xabi Alonso and his apparent desire to leave for Real Madrid.
Sources reliable (Liverpool Echo) and unreliable (most tabloids) claim the Spanish star informed the club of his wish to move back to Spain this week, and Liverpool are believed to be bracing themselves for a bid of £30m+ for the 27 year old any day soon. Should he leave, it would leave a gaping hole in Benitez’s midfield, as well as having a major impact on the club’s style of play. Roma’s Alberto Aquilani was immediately touted as Alonso’s replacement, although that claim was swiftly rubbished by pretty much all involved. Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martínez would appear a more likely, and frugal, candidate.
And let’s not forget of course that Real Madrid are currently in the midst of an end-of-season clearout matched only by Next, with Dutch internationals up for sale left right and mainly centre. Wesley Sneijder has been mooted as a potential makeweight in a deal for Alonso, though Liverpool could well be wise to look at Ruud Van Nistelrooy as a cheap and cheerful goalscoring backup, Arjen Robben as a wide player of genuine class, or even the talented but wayward Royston Drenthe as a left sided option. Or failing that they could get the £30m in the bank and then wait outside Gareth Barry’s hotel with a bouquet of petrol station flowers…
What are Manchester United, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton up to?
Elsewhere in the Premier League’s top half the transfer window is rather heating up now, Sir Alex Ferguson has done his usual trick of lying, I mean, claiming, that his summer spending is done (even though United are locked in discussions with Gremio for Douglas Costa and have just signed Mame Biram Diouf from Molde), but all around the league signings are arriving at an ever-increasing rate.
Aston Villa have finally made their first acquisition of the summer, spending most of their Barry money on Middlesbrough’s Stewart Downing. Downing, an out and out winger to join out and out wingers James Milner & Ashley Young (2 into 3 never seems to work, so expect one of those to leave or be shifted awkwardly infield), cannot play until October at the earliest according to manager Martin O’Neill, courtesy of a broken foot, but at £10m represents a typical Villa signing- English, young enough to develop, a little bit over-rated.
Everton meanwhile, have paid for manager David Moyes’ reputation for spotting talent in the lower leagues. No sooner had they secured a fee for Sheffield United’s exciting young full back Kyle Naughton, than half the league were hotfooting it down to Bramall Lane armed with chocolates and Xbox games. Spurs are said to be leading the chase now, and have even promised to snap up Naughton’s fellow Kyle, Walker, as part of the same deal.
Harry Redknapp has never been shy in stockpiling players, and that seems set to continue as he is linked with a bid for Portsmouth’s Peter Crouch. Crouch has already held talks with Steve Bruce over a move to Sunderland, but Redknapp it would appear holds both trump cards with the fact that he is: a) based in London, and b) the only man to sign Crouch on more than twenty occasions. Sunderland’s purchase of Manchester United youngster Frazier Campbell hints that a deal for Crouch now looks unlikely.
Also see: The latest English Premier League Transfers.