Saturday, 5 July 2014

Media merry-go-round – Enough to make you dizzy.

I’ve been holding off posting a Blog entry because, well, I’d just be as guilty as the press for spewing out the same, regurgitated speculation.

But a few things do seem to be edging towards the final stages (I’ll stop short of saying "conclusion") and so, here goes…

Heads or tails?

One aspect of the frustrating, revolving stories involve the coin-flipping situation that is Eliaquim Mangala and (or) Mehdi Benatia. We have, apparently, had bids accepted by both Porto and Roma respectively but a move for either would appear to be a long way away from being wrapped up.

Roma, we are told, are unwilling to release the Moroccan central defender until they secure a suitable replacement, which is very understandable.

Benatia himself has, allegedly, refused to travel to pre-season training with Roma. I’ve said this before, do we really want a player who appears to have let last season’s high-praise go to his increasingly-sized head; a player who appears to be treating his club with the utmost disrespect?

Then we have the, ‘I don’t want to join Manchester City defender from Portugal. We are apparently, though, the only club to have had a bid (of around £32M) accepted; with Chelsea & Manyoo just...‘monitoring’ for the time being.

Mangala himself has been quoted as saying that he’d prefer a move to London or, the silly, ill-informed lad, Stretford. So, similarly, I say again; why are we bovering with him?

But bovering we would appear to be and now that France have been knocked out of the World Cup, I’m sure we can expect the picture to become clearer in the fortnight ahead; as Mangala made public a while ago that he would not be discussing his future until France participation in Brazil had ended one way or another.

Apart from his outspoken wishes to join either Jose Mourinho or Louis Van Gaal instead of Manuel Pellegrini, something which isn't going down too well with a few Manchester City fans of course; the French central defender does appear, at least, to be far more level-headed than the Moroccan. Eliaquim has only just turned 23 years of age too and, so, has 4 years on Mehdi.

Of the two I personally hope we get Mangala. But if it starts to look like he’s going to drag his feet and / or repeats again his desires to go elsewhere, then I hope we have options 3 & 4 lined-up to pounce on before too long (see my list of possible alternatives).

As for Chelsea & Manyoo’s interest in Mangala – both ARE looking to strengthen that area of their respective teams. However, £32M+ might be too high even for Chelsea as they continue to spend big on other areas of the pitch, while Manyoo’s interest in Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen appears to be increasing; a far cheaper option for the free-spending, apparently FFP-immune outfit from M16.

Not quite there…

The Bruno Zuculini move isn’t happening as quickly as was first suggested. However, there doesn't appear to be any hitches and, we are informed, he should complete his medical in Manchester this coming week.

I did fear, briefly, that the release of the news that we were to loan the Argentinean out immediately to either Villarreal or Deportivo La Coruna for the season had put the player off. But I don’t think that 'mini heart flutter' was justified and City will be hoping, I’m sure, that 'Zucu' gets some good European exposure at a decent level before pushing for a first-team place at City. Sounds like a good’n; a high-energy, defensive midfielder with goals in him too.

The ‘N’s. Will N stand for No?

Negredo is going nowhere” (and similar) were the quotes splashed all over the Newspaper advertising boards across Manchester this week. ‘The Beast’ is staying!

Then I wake up this morning to news that the player now actually wants to leave and that City will be willing to let him go IF someone coughs up £25M. Rumours just won’t go away that the Spaniard doesn’t like life in Manchester [rather than he doesn’t like the football club he works for].

I hope that’s not the case; a pre-shoulder injury Alvaro was a joy to watch and seemed perfectly suited to life in the Premier League. Besides, with sick-note-Sergio we’d have to scrap like mad to find a replacement for Alvaro before the end of next month; even with the promise of a fully fit and ‘ready to show’ Stevan Jovetic.

Then Nastasic appeared to be drawing interest from Juventus. First it was supposedly an enquiry to loan him for the season, which quickly moved on to a willingness to part with £8M for the Serbian central defender.

I don’t see anything in this even when we DO sign partner for Kompany - surely Pellegrini will be acutely aware of our captain’s record of breaking down twice a season for weeks at a time; a player who may be even MORE vulnerable to injury after a very long season followed by a continuing World Cup campaign.

Matija himself will need some careful monitoring too – a mystery leg injury took the whole of last season to clear up; the 21-year old only made it back to match fitness in time to play in a post-season match in Abu Dhabi.

Competition in the Premier League will be even tougher this season and with our owner’s wish to improve in the Champions League this season, we’ll need our full compliment of players.
Unless we’re going to have an unhappy Spanish striker on our hands then say “No” to both of these City.

Midfield moves?

Javi Garcia has, once again, been linked with a move away from the Etihad. If true, not only won’t I be sad to see him go – despite some minor improvement last season – I think it makes perfect sense.

Although I’ve just stated the need for a strong squad this season; surely, SURELY we have enough in that position with Fernando, Fernandinho and, in my opinion, James Milner. Napoli are the latest club apparently interested in the Spaniard and the £14M being quoted would come in very handy to strengthen elsewhere or to help with Financial (not so) Fair Play compliance.

If we are to lose a defensive midfielder then we may well be gaining an attacking one in the form of Everton’s Ross Barkley. It’s not the first time the England international has been linked with a move to City and seeing as Manyoo and Liverpool are snapping up young, English talent (namely from Southampton); we would be very wise to do so too.

The move wouldn’t necessarily increase our ‘home grown’ quota though; any such deal is likely to see Jack Rodwell (plus cash) move in the opposite direction. That's the rumour / suggestion anyway. But we’d be getting a 20-year old, well-sort-after, exciting player with a full Premier League season under his belt; with plenty of assists and 6 goals to his name.





Not for the first time…

There appears to be scrap brewing amongst several Premier League Clubs for Barcelona winger / forward Alexis Sanchez and not for the first time do the press put us 'into the mix'. Of course we get linked most players these days but it was more than just speculation last time; with Roberto Mancini attempting to snatch him before the Spanish giants signed him from Udinese.

Would the fact that our Manager hails from the same country and is renowned for his attacking style of play have any positive influence? I’m not sure. But the fact that we’re being linked with the likes of Ross, Alexis and Angel Di Maria does suggest that we might be in the market for an attacking option of some kind. I'm still not ruling out a revisit of Isco...

Whether all this is in preparation for a Yaya (replacement) fall-out or whether it’s to swell our attacking options even further will, I’m sure, unfold in the next 4 to 8 weeks.

Capacity reduction announcement

Manchester City have identified the need to reduce the capacity of the Etihad – and in particular the South Stand – in order to keep fans safe and dry during construction on that stand.

So that work may continue with as little disruption as possible - as well as to keep the Manchester, winter elements at bay - the official capacity next season will drop from 47,805 (for Premier League) to 46,300. Official Champions League capacity shouldn’t be affected and so should remain at 45,500.

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