Sunday, 21 June 2015

Manchester City transfer talk

I said recently that I don’t intend to spew out the same ol’ transfer talk that’s already ‘out there’ and that’s still the case in some ways. I have, in fact, touched on the subject of player possibilities & various movements over the last 6 months…

But although we’re just 5 weeks or so past last season; the fixtures for next season are already out and time – and transfer rumours – seem to be rolling-on at a fair ol’ rate of knots!


And so I want to look at positions I think we need to address along with some possible / likely players (and some wilder suggestions) to come in and fill those slots (with a quick look at outgoing players too).

Starting at the back…

Keeper situation? Well as long as Willy Caballero is happy to keep pushing Joe Hart then this position isn’t an issue in the slightest. In fact even Richard Wright who is highly respected on the training pitch has been given another 1-year extension…

Same for the right-back slot really - unless Bacary Sagna suddenly decides that his Manchester City move hasn’t quite worked out for him; then in both the French defender and ‘our Zaba’ we have no issues whatsoever here.

However, I think it’s a very different story on the left side of our defence…and I think it’s about time we sorted this problem area out once and for all!

Regular readers will know my (low) opinion of Aleksandar Kolarov’s ability as a defender…and I don’t follow the idea that he’s all that good (he's not too bad I suppose) going forward either...and please don’t tell me, “But he’s good at free kicks"

We saw about four or five back-to-back 7/10, ‘shop window’ performances from him at the end of last season…and that p***** me off even more in some ways; that all these years is has been ‘capable’. But I lost patience with this lad a long time ago and how he’s still here I’ll never know.

Now I like Gael Clichy - he’s certainly more of a defender than the afore mentioned. However, I will agree with some who aren’t OVERLY confident whenever he’s give the left-back slot over the Serbian and he can be annoying inconsistent at times.

But I have also seen him produce 7.5/10 performances on a regular basis too and, for me, he’s well worth keeping.

I also love him for this passionate moment after ‘THAT’ goal in ‘THAT’ final game of the 2011/12 season.

But he needs help / competition and we are DESPERATE for an injection of quality in this area. And, so…

I’ll start with a player that has just one year remaining on his contract but one who plays for a team that I found annoying to deal with last season. FC Porto's Alex Sandro has been linked with us several times and should be available for a decent £15M. Just yer 6 caps for Brazil but with 81 for his club he might even have a calming influence on the fella he player right next too last season – a certain Eliaquim Mangala!

If Kolarov does leave us in the summer and this fella comes in his place, there’s no upsetting the ‘foreign quote’ either.

The next player has not only been linked with us on several occasions but it’s also rumoured that the 22-year old has handed-in a transfer request at Monaco. Arsenal, (of course!) are also interested in French international left-back Layvin Kurzawa who, despite having 3 years remaining on his contract, can apparently be picked up for around £15M. Has also been seen at Manchester City this season but the player, when asked, said that it was an innocent visit to watch a game / catch up with friends. I like the look of him.

Want to ‘up’ the English quota? Well apparently you can get a tightly-locked contract signing from West Ham United for £20M. With 4-years remaining on the contract he only signed last season; Aaron Cresswell has been turning heads since his move from Ipswich Town, despite him having just one season in the top-flight. With Chelsea reportedly willing to meet The Hammers’ valuation, it just goes to show you how priceless “English” AND “left backs” are becoming…

Very much an outside chance is another player with 4 years remaining on his contract…but this one will apparently cost more like £30M. If Kevin De Bruyne does move on in the summer then I find it highly unlikely that VfL Wolfsburg will want to let ANOTHER very important player leave…and if they DO lose their number one ‘assist creator’ from last season then why would they need the money?

But apparently HUGE interest is being shown by both Arsenal & Manyoo for Swiss left-back Ricardo Rodriguez and so if we do want to fix a long-standing issue then why not go for one of the best around, which I understand this fella to be?

Now for the ‘IF’ factor position of central defence. Dedryck Boyata has already gone (to Celtic), right-back-come-centre-back Micah Richards has been released and is to be picked up by Aston Villa on 1st July and Karim Rekik is apparently about to be bought by PSV or someone else for around £3.5M (with City adding a ‘first choice buy’ clause in future sale or sales).

And so for the IFs

IF Eliaquim Mangala is gonna ‘come good’ and fill his potential more this season; IF Vincent Kompany isn’t going to be injured for his now-often-traditional quarter-season (or worse), IF ‘old dependable’ Martin Demichelis isn’t going to start feeling the strain of being an almost 35-year old defender in one of the most pacy leagues in the world and IF Jason Denayer lives up to the many plaudits that have gone his way in recent months and is, therefore, ready to be City’s 4th central defender in the Premier League…then we should be ‘all sorted’ in this department; with no need to splash any cash.

However, IF, like me, Manchester City have concerns over some or all of the above with regards to the heart of our defence, then they would be wise to consider ‘splashing some’ on a quality centre half. With so much money apparently about to be spent on the midfield, however, the problem remains…“Who?”

Highly unlikely is Mats Hummels, a player strongly linked with Manyoo (unfortunately). Highly unlikely also are we to use £35M+ of our ‘war chest’ on a central defender; with so much emphasis on improving our attacking / creative midfield…and having already spent £40M+ on Mangala last summer.

He would be, of course, a fantastic addition to an area for us that was fragile to say the least at times last season…but it would also be seen as a ‘luxury signing’ and one that would severely dent our spending power elsewhere on the pitch.

Eder Balanta is a player who has been linked with City in the past and although, like Hummels, he has 2 years remaining on his contract; £15M or so would probably be enough to secure his services. Don’t know much about him myself but some decent sides appear to be watching him. Not sure how he’d stand work-permit-wise and, of course, the Argentine league is vastly different to that of the Premier League. Pellegrini knows his South American league though and if the ex-central defender himself thinks him good enough then this could be a possibility.

Far less likely - and again far more expensive - would be Everton’s highly rated English defender John Stones. At 22 next January and with 4 years remaining on his contract this fella would likely cost in the region of £32M (with the added “English” ransom forced onto would-be suitors of course).

Then of course there’s always the ‘rolling out’ of the name Pepe, with whom we get linked with every…single…transfer window (summer and winter). It’s all been said before about this fella – he certainly has the quality and experience to play in the Premier League but has had a VERY questionable on-pitch character; with ‘red mist’ tendencies to say the least!

Seems to have calmed down in recent seasons, I understand from a Real fan I often speak with, and with contract-extension talks having apparently stalled since the ‘changing of the guard’ at Real Madrid; this might be worth a punt after all. Chelsea are apparently “monitoring” also…

Tosin Adarabioyo
Of course we do have Bacary Sagna who, we are often reminded, “Can play there if needed” and I really do like the looks of Under 18s pairing Tosin Adarabioyo & Cameron Humphreys (particularly Adarabioyo). But I can’t see either of them getting a sniff of first team action next season.

Cameron Humphreys
So for me all that remains to say about this department is, do City “Stick” or “Twist”? I think sticking [with what we have] would be a bit of a risk…

Down to the REAL ‘business end’ (or should that be the ‘business middle’?)

Of course it’s the midfield / wing department that is to be the subject of the most analysis in the summer. In particular with regards to the forward-thinking / creative personnel, where David Silva almost ran the show single handed last season (not ideal at all) and where Yaya Toure looked a lost soul for the most part; his huge frame and not-so-young legs apparently wanting more assistance than some of his midfield colleagues were providing (but I’ll jump back to that shortly).

With Samir Nasri looking quite likely to leave in the summer - despite having only signed a new 5-year contract (to June 2019) last summer - and with questions marks also over Jesus Navas (despite being a fairly regular for Manuel Pellegrini); an injection of class & creativity is an absolute must before the big KO in August.

Defensively, midfield wise, we might be alright…or are we?

Like Mangala, his ex-Porto colleague Fernando hasn’t exactly lived up to ‘the billing’ since his arrival last summer and although we have been told by the player himself that he was rushed back a little too soon following an early-season injury and that a lot of last season he was playing through some pain; question marks still largely remain about ‘The Octopus’.

And so with no James Milner (although never used in that role by our manager – James’ apparent main reason for wanting a new challenge elsewhere) and going even further back the likes of Jack Rodwell, Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong all-having departed; it leaves us with only Fernandinho should Fernando ‘not fire’ again…and / or is injured again.

For me that leaves us a little lightweight in the ‘defensive midfield’ options because, as regular readers will be aware, the jury has been out for me ever since Fernandinho signed from Shakhtar Donetsk for £28M+. At times he looks quite a useful and accomplished player…but only at times. I find him a fairly inconsistent player whenever asked to play slightly advanced OR defensively…and somewhat flaky to say the least.

I just wonder – and not necessarily hope because I would very much LIKE to see him play more consistently well – whether the 30-year old Brazilian might make way for other incoming midfielders? If so, then for me we’d definitely have to add another defensive midfielder to our summer shopping list if the emphasis, otherwise, is to bring in mostly ‘attacking flare’.

So that’s, at least, a central, creative midfielder required along with both left & right-sided midfielders / wingers.

Let’s start with the most expensive player linked with a move to the Etihad - a player who was muted to be on our ‘radar’ even before the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini…and whose stock has risen and risen AND RISEN as his many talents blossomed following his departure from Trafford to Turin.

Paul Pogba is apparently one of the most sort-after players in Europe, if not the world, and it’s for this reason – despite our own stock rising steadily over the years – that I find it hard to believe that we’ll get him…this summer at least.

If he stays at Juventus for at least one more season, as some reports suggest, then I can see him quite possibly being a Manchester City player in the future. However, should he decide to move this summer then, for some reason, I just get the feeling that another European club will win his signature.

Of course if he is indeed ‘all he’s cracked up to be’ then I hope we do get him – he sounds like an awesome player and at just 22 an absolute diamond for many years…as well as a hugely sellable asses to be in possession of.

My only very slight fear is that if the plan is - as I understand it to be - to mostly play him alongside Yaya in the middle; then in a 4-4-2 one of them is going to feel a little ‘shackled’ I’m sure and to say the least.

We all know that Yaya is far more effective for Manchester City ‘bombing forward’ rather than ‘sitting deep’ and although Pogba has been described many times as a ‘box to box’ player who can ‘dig in’ and tackle / break-up play; I understand that he too is far more valuable in an attacking role. This isn’t an issue if the plan is to mostly play with one striker and five midfielders as that would allow for a ‘Fernando-type’ to sit behind 4 attacking midfielders.

The question also throws up where David Silva would play and the only answer is either on one of the flanks, where he’s often less successful, or is rotated / rested with Yaya. Nice problems to have of course…

Should we not get the Mario Balotelli lookalike then another repeatedly-linked player is Isco of Real Madrid. Of course our manager tried to sign him before Real got their claws into him and, understandably having managed him at Malaga, the ‘link’ always seems to be there.

But apparently the little Spanish attacking midfielder may be surplus to requirements under the often defensive-minded Rafael Benitez, who has a treasure-chest-full of attacking talent at his disposal. If so, I’d like this fella very much indeed.

I’m not an expert on foreign stars from around the world - more often I have a ‘general knowledge’ of a player’s abilities & background; often then digging a little deeper as links with Manchester City get stronger. I think unless you have an abundance of time on your hands – or it’s your job of course – then a lot of us who have an interest in footy are perhaps similar.

But not just because of his nationality, size and playing position; I think in Isco we’d have a 6-years-younger, David Silva-type player on our books for what would be, hopefully, a long time to come. That’s not a bad thing at all! I like the look of this chap…and he’d cost us FAR less than Mr Pogba.

Next up for consideration is a player who flirted so very briefly with the Premier League that it’s difficult to recall. And so I have to admit that I’ve been doing a little bit of head-scratching as to why – other than his age and the fact that he has 4 years remaining on his contract – he is apparently worth in the region of £35M; when he’s had just one good season in the Bundesliga.

But I read time and time again WHAT a player he is becoming after a so-very-brief Chelsea career and, more recently, he’s been given high praise indeed from his countryman – and our very own Captain – Vincent Kompany.

Despite 10 goals from midfield and a Bundesliga record last season of a whopping 21 assists; I’ve just got this little Harry Kane / Spurs ‘one season wonder’ possibility alarm bell…should that happen to Spurs’ “very own” striker of course (and I’m certainly not wishing that to be the case for the England international striker).

I hope I’m very wrong about that feeling should we get De Bruyne, of course; although mostly a central attacking / creative midfielder he often operates on the left…and can do similar on the right too by all accounts. Very useful indeed.

Right…the Raheem Sterling debate!

As well as reading plenty of Manchester City fan’s WEB-posted comments, I have also had several conversations with a number of Blues, one Manyoo fan (who doesn’t go to games of course) and even a Leeds United fan about Mr Sterling. I have to be honest (as always) and say that the feeling about Raheem runs from ‘stone cold’ to ‘lukewarm’ at best.

Where I stand on the fella is this…and I’ll START with agreeing with some of the “negatives” out there:

  • He’s inconsistent. And I don’t say that lightly because as a long-suffering Manchester City fan of days-gone-by; one of the most irritating traits of our beloved club was their annoying ability to be SO flippin’ inconsistent (that’s why, today, the likes of Clichy, Nasri, Fernandinho, Navas & Dzeko to name five often leave me gritting my teeth in frustration at times). The many detractors of the right-sided, Liverpool attacker point, quite rightly, specifically to the poor and inconsistent season he had last season (but I will add a note to that point in that he was playing in a team that was also, in general, fairly poor & inconsistent and that he still managed [in 35 games] 7 goals and 8 assists in that same poor & inconsistent team…where Liverpool’s - and his - main front-man-partner was missing for most of it).

  • The price. I will agree, in some part, that the figure Liverpool want and where we’re now at with our latest offer (at time of publication) is way too high. For me his abilities and the fact that he is coming into his penultimate year of his contract should value the youngster at £25M to £30M…tops. However…I said, “…agree in some part”. Why? Well whether you like it or not – and for the record I most certainly DON’T like it – as long as the ‘home-grown rule’ is here then selling clubs of English players - and in particular those who are full England internationals - are going to slap-on anywhere between £10M to £20M. Fact! And so if you are a fan of a club who is trying to BUY one of these same-said players and your club also happened to have squillions of pounds in the bank; then I have one phrase to suggest to you – ‘SUCK IT UP’…because unless the home-grown rule goes away then this, I’m afraid, is a sad fact that is here to stay. Want an example? Everton apparently value Ross Barkley at £60M! Ha!

  • His shooting is pretty naff most of the time…and that’s why I see him as a right winger / right-sided forward as opposed to him being classed as a striker, which he is most certainly not in my book…not at the moment anyway.

  • His crossingalthough it has improved slightly with time and as he continues to mature on the pitch – isn’t the best. But I’m going to add that his crossing is still better than that of Navas’…even when the young England man is having a bad day!

Okay, in Raheem’s defence…

-        At 20 years & 6 months old this guy has at least 3 Premier League seasons behind him already and with 47 games; a wealth of international experience at various levels too. In that times he has been a regular for large parts of those teams and you don’t get to do that if you’ve not got something about you.

-        Have you listened to a lot of young-player interviews and those of coaches / ex-footballers? Well I have and one reoccurring theme said by many of them is that young players who surround themselves with other highly-talented players - with the right attitude - will learn from those more-experienced teammates and become a much better player for it. Want an example? When we signed James Milner from Aston Villa we had most certainly signed ‘Mr Average’. I recall bemoaning towards the end of his first season that all we’d bought was a player who could run all day and do nothing else. I had to listen to a Manyoo fan persistently goad me about how we had all this money and yet we’d gone out and bought a couple of very average Aston Villa midfielders (Gareth Barry being the other one)…and I could do nothing in the first year [about James] to come back to the embitteRED pest. And so how striking it was that in ‘year 2’ this same Manyoo fella’s derogatory comments subsided and from ‘year 3’ onwards he wasn’t uttering a Milner-bashing word; as James, for me, won the ‘most improved player’ award season on season on season right up to the very [sad] end. His positional awareness improved, his link-up play, his passing, I swear he even added a burst of extra pace to his game and he even started to pitch-in with some goals; proving how even MORE versatile he was [than we all thought] by stepping up as a lone striker! Now apart from some good coaching, of course, can anyone seriously reject the idea that he (and we) benefited from him-being surrounded by the highly-skilled & experienced colleagues he’s had the pleasure to work with? We have better players than Liverpool ‘in my humble’ and so if Raheem can soak up that same influence and advice then can you imagine what a young man with talent we’d have in the years to come?!

-        His maturity and level-headedness. Okay, first of all I cannot deny that the young lad has been a bit silly recently once and, even more recently, possibly twice; by being seen sniffing some kind of so-called legal high gas. Stupid! But I’ve listened to football people being interviewed who have worked with the lad both in a footballing capacity and with activities on the fringes of football. Similar to his teammate, Daniel Sturridge, for a young lad I’ve heard that he gets involved with a lot of community activity and even spends his own time teaching kids the finer points of footballing skills. You can’t buy that – we are trying to of course – but you know what I’m getting at; it’s just as important for me that you get players with the right character / attitude. Would you rather have that…or a Jack Wilshere-type character that flicks hand gestures towards Manchester City fans and calls Spurs “S***” when celebrating his own team’s F.A. Cup success, to name just 2 incidents by the 23-year old Arsenal man?

Yes, if we do sign Raheem, we’ll be paying a high price (certainly TOO high by the sounds of it) for half-“potential”…and I know too that if we shopped around in Europe with that sort of cash we’d be sure to find a more-ready-made & quite brilliant right-sided forward. I also hope we’re not buying him as an out & out striker, as I’ve said.

But if you can, indeed, ‘suck the price up’ for the time being then I’m sure that if Raheem were to become a Manchester City player in the coming weeks then in the coming years we’ll have a much-envied player on our books.

One final note from me on Raheem is this. My ‘barometer’ on this player also lies with the fact that over the last 2 or 3 seasons, whenever we’ve played ‘The Reds’ I’ve been fearful of the likes of Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard…and one Raheem Sterling. What I CAN’T quite decide on is whether that should be classed as praise for the youngster himself or whether it stems from the fact the left side of our defence has often been fragile over that same period of time…

An alternative, we are told, will be an approach to The Gunners for England midfielder Jack Wilshere - he who played just 14 bit-part Premier League appearances last season and who scored 2 goals and got 1 assist. In 2013/14 he made 24 appearance, 3 goals and 5 assists; the previous season 25 appearances no goals and 5 assists and the season before that, 35 appearances in the league with 1 goal and 3 assists.

Now of course better ‘Wilshere watchers’ than me might point out that he’s more of a box-to-box type central midfielder and, therefore, doesn’t get the goals & assists of the likes of Raheem Sterling. And that’s fair enough…but aren’t we in the market for a central midfielder of that ilk in Pogba or Isco? Why is Wilshere an alternative for a right-sided attacker? Besides, which, I also have it on good authority that he doesn’t actually do too much defensive work for Arsenal and so, in that case, his ‘goals & assists’ tally make for even less impressive reading…

Anyway…linked as a ‘back up’ we would appear to be and the most worry aspect for me is his pretty bad, to say the least, fitness record. In fact I was shocked to read that he had made as many as 14 appearances last season; albeit ‘bit part’ ones as I say. With 3 years on his contract remaining against Raheem’s 2, you can bet Arsenal would want around the same kind of fee that Liverpool are asking for their man…and if we’re going down that route of purchasing a treatment-table player then why did we get rid of Jack Rodwell and why don’t we keep Stevan Jovetic?

Talented though he is, this ‘Jack the lad’ is not for me…

According to reports we are about to sign young Fulham right-winger Patrick Roberts. The London-born, England Under-19 player would cost at least £5M with ‘add ons’ I’m sure and more recent reports suggest that we’ll send him immediately out on loan to a team / league that club officials believe will benefit him the most.

From the few pundit interviews I’ve heard, “Pat” gets high praise indeed – one even stating that he was head & shoulders the best England Under-19 in their last tournament.

And continuing the theme of right-sided, attacking players; we are reportedly watching Mexico & FC Twente’s Jesus Manuel. I’ve done the ‘video thing’ on him and although right-footed, he’s notable accomplished on the left and ‘just off the front man’ too.

Similar size & pace to our own Jesus – perhaps a little slower – he looks more sure-footed in possession than Navas and with a better cross and finishing shot. Not English but it seems as though we’re keeping our options open in case the Raheem deal doesn’t happen…and it seems also that we’re in the market for someone to put pressure on – or perhaps replace – Navas.

And let’s not forget that we have our very own, highly rated EDS player Marco Lopes to possibly come back into the fold after impressing during a season-long loan spell at Lille last season.

Briefly as possible on the defensive side then…

If we are to offload in the middle at all then it’s a shame we didn’t make an approach for Sami Khedira, who is moving from Real Madrid to Juventus…on a free! Would have been a belter for us I’m sure.

We are, though, apparently sniffing around the possibility of talking to Barcelona about Alex Song.

With only 2 years remaining on his contract; with plenty of Premier League - and otherwise English - experience with Arsenal, West Ham United (on loan) and Charlton Athletic (on loan) AND with him being able to provide proficient cover in central defence (VERY useful for us and addresses two areas in one swoop); this move would make a whole lotta sense! Of course Chelsea ‘the spoilers’ are lurking around him too…

‘Up front’…and another ‘IF’ factor.

So following on slightly from, in particular, the Raheem Sterling intent of what we’re buying him as [winger or striker]; for me it’s not really a case of ARE we going to add anyone to the striking department in the summer but, again for me, how many.

To make this slightly easier first and foremost – SURELY we’re going to see the end of both Edin Dzeko & Stevan Jovetic and, so, can we move on under the strong assumption that we’re going to be left with “just” Sergio Aguero & Wilfried Bony? Good, and so…

…top guys as they are; that’s clearly not enough to see us through a long, 4-trophy campaign.

Of the EDS players, in general, I can see Kelechi Iheanacho being ready for some first team action this coming season…and I say that knowing that both injury and work permit issues meant that he had reduced playing time for Columbus Crew and delayed his playing time in England for any of the City Youth teams.

But he just looks so assured and competent despite his fledgling status that, staying injury free of course, I see more EDS starts & first-team bench time rather than a loan move. Assuming I’m right – and assuming that Raheem is to be brought in as either right-sided competition WITH or replacement FOR Jesus Navas – then that means surely we’ll be in the marker for a least one striker to replace the departing Edin & Stevan.

Here are some suggestions / links:

Already linked with us in the past is Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette, although Manyoo are cranking up the heat in apparent pursuit; with Liverpool amongst others very interested also.

Apparently, Lacazette has stated that he will only move from Lyon to a team in the Champions League – that's risky with 4th-placed Manyoo then and that would definitely rule out a move to Liverpool

A terrific, award-winning 27 goals in 33 appearance last season; the season before of 15 goals and 5 assists from 36 Ligue 1 appearances wasn’t a bad return either. With 3 years remaining on his current deal he’d probably cost in the reason of a rather [now] familiar-looking price of £35M.

A player I’ve been monitoring for about 18 month now belongs to Roma but was on-loan at AC Milan half of last season. Struggled for a time with injuries at Roma after signing from Genoa and gained a few yellow & red card bans; one in particular a reviewed punishment for punching an ‘oppo’ defender.

But Mattia Destro certainly found his feet at Roma and bagged 24 goals in all competitions from 57 appearances; some of those appearances being part-games. Don’t really get why, then, Roma loaned him out (I’m sure they have their reasons) to Milan in January 2015, where he scored 3 from 14.

Sampdoria are apparently monitoring him and Arsenal have been linked too, as were we once under Roberto Mancini. AC might be interested in extending his stay also. Might be worth a go and with 2 years remaining on his Roma deal, £25M might be enough for this just-turned 24-year old.

Mattia probably isn’t a very likely signing and far less likely is Gonzalo HiguaĆ­n. So why include him then? Well a player of this quality will, as most similar players do, want Champions League football and with Napoli finishing their season 5th and in “just” a Europa League spot; despite having 3-years left on his 5-year deal he might be getting itchy feet.

All of the usual English suspects are circling vulture-like and for a player of his age and quality it might take £40M+ to get him. But imagine him playing / competing with Aguero & Bony?!

The fact alone that he can do a crackin’, classic Laurel & Hardy-style door / head-bang is enough to spend that kind of money alone…

A far cheaper option is also a far more sensible one too…and one that still excites in many ways. I was pleasantly surprised when West Bromwich Albion came to the Etihad last season at just how good Saido Berahino was. Of course I’d heard he was good – sadly I’d also heard about his apparent ‘Billy big biscuits’ attitude too – but for a slight-looking fella I was impressed with his body strength and on-pitch attitude and discipline.

More-so did I admire the England Under-21 striker as Albion had gone down to 10 men after just 90 seconds; meaning that he was the…‘one’…in a ‘full 90’ 4-4-1 formation.

About to turn 22 in August and with just 2 years remaining on his contract; I can’t see him signing a contract extension and so the Midlands’ club [wanting some decent cash for him] might, therefore, even encourage a move in some ways…or at the very least won’t do much to stop one from happening.

Apparently West Brom want £30M and Tottenham are keen to link him up front with (Harry) Kane. Newcastle United too are showing interest but that price tag is likely to scare them off – whilst Tottenham are apparently trying to negotiate a cash / swap with Andros Townsend & Aaron Lennon, which might just interest The Baggies.

I recon £25M might just swing it and we have had successful / smooth transfer dealings with them last season (for Joleon Lescott). Chuck in a loanee EDS player for experience and they too might be interested in doing a deal with us.

Another English player to add to the ranks; a very good striker (20 goals from 45 appearances in all competitions last season in a struggling-to-average team) makes very, VERY good sense to me.

An outsider wildcard I’d like to chuck in is QPR’s Charlie Austin. He tore us to pieces at Loftus Road last season in a strong and intelligent-running display.

Tended to be less effective away from home last season I noted; perhaps a little inconsistent therefore. But for a soon-to-be 26-year old English striker with just one year remaining on his contract, this ‘lethal finisher’ would be well worth a punt to add to what we have. £15M to £18M would probably get him to!

Although he has lived ‘up North’ in his very successful time with Burnley; it’s highly likely that the Hungerford-born player will switch to West Ham United...although Newcastle have been strongly linked with him for weeks now.

Hope you enjoyed my not-so-little summer transfer piece – and thanks for taking the time! Time now, though, for us all to sit back while Ferran Soriano, Txiki Begiristain and others at Manchester City, I’m sure, ‘do their bit’ in the summer, which is sure to be filled with many twists & turns.