Mark Hughes was talking again this morning. Talking big as well. According to Hughes, Manchester City’s financial muscle is starting to cause ripples amongst the previously-complacent “Big Four”, and his side are in a position to upset the proverbial apple cart.
“United are taking our situation more seriously in terms of what we can do – and it’s not just them realising that,” said Hughes, “Bizarrely, what is happening here can help United through us being capable of taking points off other top-four clubs – but we want to take points off United, too.”
You can’t blame the Welshman for his confidence. After all, it is at City where the most ostentatious transfer dealings are taking place this summer, with Gareth Barry & Roque Santa Cruz already added to an ever-improving squad of players, and both Samuel Eto’o & Carlos Tévez mulling over even more significant switches to Eastlands.
But perhaps the biggest reason to be cheerful for City fans comes with the stories emanating from Stamford Bridge today surrounding the future of John Terry. The Chelsea skipper, we know, was the subject of a circa £30m bid from ambitious City earlier this month, prompting Chelsea to rather vociferously state that their captain was not for sale, and that any such bid would be “completely rejected”.
Yet there is growing belief within the sides’ respective camps that the England captain would seriously consider swapping royal for sky blue, especially in light of reports suggesting his annual salary would be doubled should he move up north. Indeed the Guardian today reports that sources close to Terry, including international colleagues based at City (basically, Wayne Bridge or Shaun Wright-Phillips then, unless Gareth Barry really has his feet under the table!) are encouraged by the noises coming out of Stamford Bridge.
City and Chelsea are due in a tribunal court this month to settle up on a fee for striker Daniel Sturridge, who was confirmed as a Blues player earlier this week after rejecting a number of new contracts from City, and sources close to the club suggest that City would be willing to waive their rights to Sturridge’s “development fee” from Chelsea in exchange for a chance to negotiate with their captain.
Either way, such a deal looks a long way off at this point, Terry is known to revel in the “Mr Chelsea” image he has developed, and is very much a London boy on a social level, whilst a transfer to a club outside the elite of the Champions League, and in World Cup year too, may be a blow to his prestige that would be too great to contemplate.
Chelsea meanwhile would be loath to offload their captain, and talismanic figure, with few players considered adequate replacements for him. With Ricardo Carvalho expected to depart the club this summer- probably to join José Mourinho at Internazionale- it would not make much footballing sense to dispose of two fine central defenders in the same summer.
Yet since when did football ever make sense?