Thursday, 30 June 2011

Rumour Mill: Manchester City or Former Arsenal XI?

There are 2 rumours today floating around Eastlands and I can't see how this piece can be particularly long, in that both names get a big 'yes' from me....In the interests of being informative and interesting however I suppose I should go into a little bit of detail, lets take one of these at a time.  Firstly we might have an answer to the left back conundrum in French international Gael Clichy.

The flying left back is one of those players that is deceptively young, it feels as if he should be in his late 20s because of the fact he has been playing for what feels like eternity, but in fact he is only 25 so definitely no problems there.  It is clearly a position that we need to strengthen, and to be fair an area of the field where we have struggled for years, our defensive record from crosses is poor to say the least and I would wager that many of those crosses are coming from our left hand side.  I want Aleksandar Kolarov to work out but he just hasn't adapted to Premier League football as quickly as we would like and maybe a season rotating with a more experienced player will do him the world of good.

Of course we will be battling on an extra front next year, clearly it would be foolish to suggest that we have any real chance of winning the Champions League, but that doesn't mean we can't put in a decent showing.  Our squad is pretty light on experience of Europe's top competition but it is something that Clichy can provide by the bucket load and that is another real benefit.

He is quick, skillful, and useful in attacking areas, and whilst he may not be the best full back defensively, he is by no means one of the worst, and I personally think that makes him a more attractive proposition than say Leighton Baines.  The Everton defender is many peoples first choice, but I am slightly put off by the fact that it would cost over £20million to secure him, Clichy is rumoured to be available for £7million, surely that is better business?

The second possible signing I see as a lot less likely, but it would be one to really get excited about.  Samir Nasri has flattered to deceive at times during his Arsenal career, but in the last 18 months he has really started to show what he is capable of and I think he would be perfect for City.  Those lovely people at Talksport reckon that we are sniffing around and readying a bid of £20million, now before this gets dismissed out of hand, it is important to remember that the figure is slightly lower than what might be expected due to the fact he is in the last year of his contract.

There appears to be conjecture about the validity of this story, word on twitter originating from the Mirror claims that City 'sources' have confirmed interest in Clichy but denied we had made contact with Arsenal over a transfer for Nasri.  Clearly he would be a great addition to the squad, if he were to come in his link up play with Silva and the rest of the forward line could be a joy to behold, but just how likely is it?

Firstly there is rumoured to be strong interest from Manchester United and obviously that could present one or two problems, secondly is the ongoing Cesc Fabregas saga.  If, as expected, he moves to Barcelona over the next few days surely Arsene Wenger will do whatever he can to retain the former Marseille midfielder and offer him the wages that he is demanding to stay at the Emirates.

If I were a betting man I would say the signing of Clichy is highly likely, any move for Nasri though I just can't see at this point.  Since we withdrew from the Sanchez deal I think it might just be more rumour mongering from the tabloids, not that I wouldn't want him, I am just not sure I see it as being that likely, i'd love to be proved wrong though.....

Monday, 27 June 2011

Forget Sanchez, We Should Get This Guy Before Someone Else Does...

As many of you may have noticed over the past couple of months I have grown pretty sick of the whole Alexis Sanchez saga, and as that continues to move at the pace of glacier I can't help but feel that we are missing a trick.

I think a lot of my indifference is down to the fact that I think there is a far better option out there who I think would be far more open to a move to England and Manchester City in particular, that man is World Cup winner Juan Mata.

Many of you will already be totally aware of the 23 year old who has lit up this Summers Under 21 European Championships.  The young Spaniard came through the ranks at Real Madrid and was part of their 'B' squad, but he never managed to move on to the first team, their loss was Valencia's gain where he has gone on to prove himself to be a fine prospect and a real asset.  I think he could offer us a huge amount and potentially be better suited to the Premier League than Sanchez.

He is very quick, can go round a man, has good delivery and also is a very accomplished finisher.   At 23, he is somewhat of a rising star in Spain and although there are issues with his strength David Silva has proved that you don’t have to built like a brick outhouse to survive.

Playing Mata left, Johnson right, with Silva through the middle behind Tevez or Dzeko I think we would carry a real threat.  There is a buyout clause in the players contract at £40million, but with the Spanish club struggling financially it has been suggested he could be secured for closer to £30million.  With a good salary on offer and his friend Silva also at the club I think he could be very tempted.
To me it is somewhat of a no brainer, it would be cheaper and easier than bringing in a player, who lets be honest, appears to have no interest in playing for this club.  The tabloids today carry stories about interest from Liverpool and particularly Arsenal, claiming Wenger is ready to put together a bid of around £18million which, when compared to the ridiculous figures we are supposedly offering for Sanchez, seems a real bargain.

Clearly in reality it will cost more than £18million to secure the player, but it would still come in cheaper than Sanchez and I cannot reiterate enough how much better I believe Mata to be.  His relationship with David Silva also cannot be underestimated they played together for Valencia and were understood to have a good friendship, whether he can convince his former team mate that Eastlands is the place to be remains to be seen, but it is certainly an avenue to pursue.
Obviously I don't mean to sound alarmist, there is still plenty of time before the season starts, but I am getting a little concerned about the lack of transfer news at City.  I can't help but think that currently we have all of our eggs in one basket in Sanchez and that we could risk missing out on potential other signings in the process...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Rumour Mill: Who Is Aly Cissokho?

Like many, I am sick to the back teeth of Alexis Sanchez and all the rubbish (nearly used a stronger word there) floating around the press and twitter about him.  It doesn't seem long ago that we were content with a deadline day swoop for DaMarcus Beasley, or a desperate renewal of Kiki Musampa's loan.  We are now being linked with just about everyone and even when there is no news or no new development the papers are full of mere speculation.

Perhaps it seems strange therefore for me to write about such rumours, well to be honest there are some that make sense, and some that aren't rammed down our throats every 30mins on Sky Sports News, these ones, whilst still probably a load of nonsense are infinitely more interesting and definitely worth thinking about.  My frustration isn't with the rumour mill, it is more with the media regurgitating here-say and presenting it as fact, something that has happened endlessly with Sanchez.

Anyone delving a little deeper into the Manchester City transfer speculation over the last few days will no doubt have come across the name Aly Cissokho, and it was with great pleasure that I saw us being linked with the 23 year old.

The French international is a left back and a pretty damn good one if you ask me.  Currently plying his trade with Lyon he has began to impress many and has attracted attention from a few different clubs, including Liverpool and Arsenal.  Previously he played in Portugal for Porto, and when he left them he very nearly signed for AC Milan only for a strange medical to put an end to the move.  The testing turned up a problem with his teeth that can symbolise potential spine problems.  Milan's loss was Lyon's gain as they shelled out €15million for the left back.

He is noted for being strong, quick, a good header of a ball, as well as having excellent stamina, in a nut shell he is everything that Aleksandar Kolarov isn't.  I recently wrote about how I felt we needed a left back as a priority and that is why I was so pleased to see this story in the press.  Whether there is any truth in it remains to be seen, the Mail reckon we are weighing up an offer of £20million, so he wouldn't come cheap, but if we can move on Jerome Boateng for something close to the £15million mark it may not be such a bad piece of business.

Clearly he is a good age, and has plenty to learn but I think he has all the raw physical assets needed to make it in the Premier League, I personally think he would be a better option than Leighton Baines who would no doubt cost more and probably not be as impressive.

As with all these stories, I feel it right to make it clear that this is probably a load of old tosh, but if it's true, and if this one came off I for one would be pretty satisfied with the deal.  Now let me check the latest on the Sanchez story again.....

Monday, 20 June 2011

Maybe i'm Insane, But I'd Really Like Us To Sign....

....Charles N'Zogbia.  I suppose right away I should point out that I am not expecting the French man to come in and replace David Silva or anything daft, but I think as a squad member he could be of massive assistance.

Essentially I feel that we are lacking some real direct pace in our squad currently, and I think that is something N'Zogbia can provide.  He is a direct runner, and has great delivery from wide areas, the natural width that he would provide would contrast to anything we already have.  I suppose there would be a clear comparison to SWP, but I can't help but feel that the Wigan winger would provide much more threat off the bench than Shauny ever would.

N'Zogbia is only 25, meaning he has a lot of his career ahead of him and clearly that is another positive.  His performances have been one of the biggest contributing factors to the survival of the Lancashire side this season, he has netted 10 goals which is not to be underestimated considering they came playing in a relatively weak side.

Clearly there are also some downsides to any potential deal, sometimes his attitude has appeared questionable and whether he could make the step up to a top 4 side is definitely up for debate, there is also a question mark over whether he would be happy only being a squad player as opposed to a regular starter.  

 The most important issue I suppose though would be competition, it is reported in the tabloids today that Liverpool are in pole position to sign the Frenchman for around £8million, they are joined by Sunderland who have also shown interest, as well as his former club Newcastle.

I am not suggesting this transfer is likely, or that there has been any speculation linking us to him, it is just a personal opinion, I can't help but feel that he would provide some decent options in our squad and offer some different things to what we already have.  I also think his experience and knowledge of the Premier League would be an asset, he wouldn't take particularly long to adapt and get used to his new club, something which couldn't be said about a player coming from abroad.  N'Zogbia for £8million?  It's a yes from me...

Friday, 17 June 2011

Can we focus on our weakest area for a while?

Do we really need another central defender?  Whilst fans of other clubs who don't watch very much Manchester City could 'hilariously' point out, yes we do, so Mancini can field 5 across the back to go with his 3 defensive midfield players.  Rubbish jibes aside, why are we continually linked with new centre backs when there is another gaping hole in our side?

Today sees reports from a couple of different media outlets linking us with Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini..lets quickly run through members of our squad capable of playing in that position: Kompany, Lescott, Toure, Boyata, Boateng, Onuoha, Richards, Wabara and at a push Yaya Toure.  Even if a couple of those players were to move, whether it be on loan or permanently, we still have more than enough to get by.  When the Gary Cahill rumours went quiet, I for one was pretty pleased, I saw no reason for us to strengthen in that area, our defensive record is good, but that doesn't mean the entire backline is solid.

We started this season with Kolarov as first choice left back, with Jerome Boateng also (supposedly) comfortable playing there.  By the end of the season however, I think most City fans were happiest with right back Zabaleta playing on the left side of the defense.  The Serbian defender has had a difficult time this season, and it is strange to me how highly regarded he was before we bought him, supposedly we did battle with Real Madrid to secure his signature.  The 25 year old cost a lofty £16million and he arrived with high expectations, it hasn't quite yet panned out however.

I am not writing the defender off and saying he should be sold, but it is a clear weakness in our side and one that I think really should be addressed.  He arrived with a reputation for being an attacking fullback, and maybe if the offensive side of his game was more impressive we could justify his shaky defensive displays, but he isn't much better coming forward.  His distribution isn't the best, and he doesn't appear quick enough for the Premier League.  He was also lauded as being a set piece expert and also possessing a wicked shot, well he may have managed 3 goals (one of which was a superb free kick against Birmingham) but those pale into insignificance when you consider all the opportunities he has wasted taking on shots from 30 yards out when there have been other options available to him, his delivery from set pieces isn't much better either.

Perhaps surprisingly however I do think there is ability in the player, and I hope we do keep hold of him.  There were some signs of improvement over the closing months of the season and I think with more time in the squad he could develop his game and perhaps become more positionally aware, and possibly more aware of his defensive duties.  That isn't to say however that I think we should go into next season with him as first choice, I think he is good backup but he isn't good enough yet for a team chasing major honours.

Identifying replacements is not particularly straight forward, I think it is time that we had a full back who's main priority is to defend as opposed to attack.  Previously we have been closely linked to Leighton Baines and I think that deal may still come off, but I do have questions about the defensive side of his game, clearly he wouldn't come cheap either and that may put Mancini off somewhat.  Fabio Coentrao and Juan Vargas are other left full backs that we have been linked with but the fact they can both also be used as left wingers puts me off somewhat.

I am not writing this to propose a solution to the left back problem, and it would be better if I did, but one thing is for sure, whilst making moves for Sanchez, Eto'o, Chiellini or whoever else we will be linked too is fantastic, I still can't help but feel that we should be making the left back slot one of our main priorities.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Let's Finally Get Our Sales Policy Right...

For years City have been a dreadful selling club, even pre-ADUG we would overspend on players and offer them long term deals only to move them on at a fraction of their cost for a huge loss.  Players like Danny Mills sucked us dry by sitting on fat 5 year contracts doing nothing and when we were in a more financially precarious state these deals never helped us.

Now that money is not an issue there could be a tendency for our sales policy to get even worse, but that would be massively detrimental, not just with regards to the financial fair play rules, but also just because it confirms some of the negativity attitudes held towards us.

Right now is a fine time for us to start to change that, and the case of Jerome Boateng is one where we have to be careful.  If you believe media speculation, Bayern Munich have offered £6million for a player that we signed for £10million.  Now clearly selling at that price would be an awful piece of business, but a few years ago I think we would do just that.  There seemed to be an attitude of bringing money back into the club no matter what.  Clearly figures involved weren't this high, but the policy was still thus.

In a world where Phil Jones is worth £20million, Jerome Boateng, whilst not having had the best season is clearly worth more than the paltry £6million on offer.  The club seem to be playing hard ball and so they should, we aren't dealing with a small club short of money, we are dealing with one of the biggest and richest clubs in Europe we should make them pay close to OUR estimation, not what they see fit.

When we are buying, we always pay close to what selling clubs want, where as when we sell we seem to cave in far too easily.  So far I like that we are standing firm, and maybe we won't ever get an offer of £16million, but I don't think £13million is out of the question and that would represent good profit.  We have to learn from our mistakes and there is no better time than the present.

Clearly this standpoint can't go for all players, some of them, Bridge and Jo for example just need to be moved on no matter what, and securing £6million for both of them combined would be nice.  With useful players like Boateng and Adebayor however we have to stand firm and make sure we get offers that actually represent the players value to us.  

It is fine charging fans more for season tickets to help meet the fair play guidelines (within reason), but we also have to do better financially in terms of player sales.  Just because the German wants to leave and is doing everything he can to secure the transfer, it doesn't mean we have to back down and give in to his rather desperate demands.

The case for Adebayor is slightly different, we may find it harder to find a buyer due to the players seemingly inflexible wage demands, but again there is cause for concern, we shouldn't be tempted to just give him away for nothing to remove his huge salary from our wage bill, we must tread carefully.

Look at all the games that Udinese are playing with us over Sanchez, this isn't the time to appear small time and let players leave for nothing, it's time we finally got things right!

Monday, 13 June 2011

It May Be a Refreshing Attitude, But Is He Good Enough?

Nedum Onuoha was the 'next big thing' for a long time, great things were expected of the young academy graduate, but he never really reached the level that many people expected him too.  His athleticism is there for all to see and the teenage sprint Champion certainly uses his speed as his best asset, but other parts of his game have let him down.

It seemed highly likely that his future at Eastlands was all but over after he was farmed out to Sunderland on loan last season, and it appeared probable that the move would be made permanent.  In recent time though suggestions of a transfer to Wearside have gone strangely quiet.  In fact moves to Bolton as part of a deal for Gary Cahill have been more likely, today though we see a refreshing show of determination from the player.  Too many footballers would rest on their laurels and just wait for a move, but City supporting Onuoha claims he is ready to fight for his place, is he good enough though?

I have never been entirely sure what Ned's best position is, his pace from right back is clearly a good asset, but his technical ability is somewhat lacking and his distribution has always let him down.  Not to say there aren't flashes of ability, the goal he scored for Sunderland against Chelsea was sublime.  At centreback his distribution is less important, but in this modern day players in all areas are expected to be comfortable on the ball, and that is never the impression that I get from the defender.

I suppose one defense of Onuoha could be his injury record, up until this season he has never managed a run of games in a settled team.  He has been permanently hampered by niggling injuries and clearly these will have impeded his development, I am not claiming he is up there with Paul Lake in the 'What Could Have Been' stakes, but I think he would definitely have been a better player than he is.

The other thing that should be addressed is how likely is he to get games, if we assume that Jerome Boateng will be shown the exit door after his recent outburst, we currently have Kompany, Lescott, Toure, Boyata, Richards and Wabara who are all capable of playing at the heart of the defense.  I suppose if you argue that we are best to loan out Wabara and Boyata for a season then there are still 4 players comfortable playing in the centre of the defence, does that leave any room for Onuoha?  Then imagine if we sign a new defender as has been widely reported, opportunities seem limited.

With the upcoming Financial Fair Play rules we need to be bringing in as much money as we can, and the sale of the speedy defender would probably bring us about £5million and that is money that could be extremely useful.  Another key issue it would be important to remember is his attitude towards Roberto Mancini, he said some pretty damning things when he first moved to Sunderland and we shouldn't forget that.

Obviously a lot of us would love to see him stay at the club, he is home grown, he loves the club and he shows passion, but does that make up for a slight lack of ability.  Onuoha is a top half of the table defender, but he isn't a top 4 defender.  I will hold my hands up and say I am impressed with this show of determination, but it doesn't get away from the fact that I just don't feel there is room for him at the club, nor do I feel he is good enough.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Rumour Mill - Have we beaten Arsenal to Ivorian speed merchant?

Today has been a bit of a crazy day for a City fan, most days are full of rumours but today they seem more certain than ever.  This morning were the claims that we had completed the signing of Luka Modric spreading across twitter, and that it was 'imminent'.  Personally I never bought into that one and it seems to have gone particularly quiet ever since it first 'broke', the other rumour however could be a lot more likely.

Granted the source of the story is hardly the most reputable, but it seems more likely than Modric.  It seems pretty clear that we have been monitoring the future of Ivory Coast winger/striker Gervinho over recent weeks, and it was apparent that we were competing with Arsenal, the players preferred destination.

This afternoon however come claims from French footballing website 'Foot Mercato' that the deal is as good as done.  They claim that we have flexed our financial muscle and absolutely blown the Gunners out of the water.  The figure quoted on the website is about £15.5million, which is pretty hefty, especially considering his contract runs out next Summer.  Early rumours had suggested that Arsenal had tabled around £8-9million so clearly if the reported figure is correct Lille would prefer to sell to us.

The player on the other hand would apparently take some more convincing, the French media reports suggest that City will offer him astronomical wages to make the proposition of Eastlands more attractive than the Emirates.  The other point to consider would be the presence of Yaya and Kolo Toure who are both international team mates with the forward.

The 24 year old is known for both his speed as well as his final product.  He is comfortable playing on the wing or through the middle and would definitely offer something that we don't currently have.  Maybe I give more credence to the story purely because I would like it to come off.  Clearly this is very much up in the air, and not from the most reputable source, but i'd just love it to happen!

To add further uncertainty to the whole debate, Ian McGarry has just tweeted that the player will complete a move to Arsenal over the weekend, back to the drawing board then I suppose, who to believe....

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Selling Boyata Would Be A Huge Mistake

Rumours have flown around for a while suggesting that Roberto Mancini will move for England and Bolton defender Gary Cahill.  Firstly I question why we need another central defender when we already have Lescott, Kompany, Toure, Boyata, Boateng and potentially Micah Richards and young Reece Wabara that can play there.  If you ignore whether we need him however, there are other issues about this deal that worry me.

It is reported that there is a get out clause in Cahill's contract set at £17million and it is the Mirror that are today suggesting that we are ready to trigger that clause and make him our second Summer signing after Denis Suarez.  Firstly I can't help but feel that this is a huge sum of money, and quite clearly we will be paying more based on the fact that he is English, I have written before about Jan Vertonghen who plays for Ajax, and whilst I still don't feel we need more players in that area, the Belgian would represent much better value for money.

The other troubling part of the deal for me is the inclusion of other players as part of our offer.  It has been widely reported that City are going to throw in one or both of Nedum Onuoha and Dedryck Boyata.  Now ideally I would like to keep both of these young defenders within the squad, but if I had to pick one to definitely keep it would be Boyata.  I really think the 20 year has huge potential and I think moving forward he could go onto become a vital part of our team and squad.

The Belgian who broke into the first team during the 09-10 season has impressed when given the opportunity and nearer the start of this season he was so highly regarded by Roberto Mancini that he was picked ahead of Joleon Lescott.  The Mirror do point out that the City manager would prefer to keep both players, as he see's a bright future for both of them, hopefully this can remain the case.

I do fear that the writing is on the wall for Onuoha however, as much as I rate him and think that he could be an important squad member at the club I just feel he will get more regular football elsewhere, and despite the newspapers claims, I don't think the Italian manager fancies him.  Boyata however has time on his side and I think he is showing all the signs that he could develop into a top defender and personally I think Mancini would be mad to let him go whether it meant the Cahill deal fell threw or not.

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Nextgen Series – Essential for player development or just a kick in the teeth to the lower leagues?

It is fair to say that reserve team football is hardly glamorous.  As a City fan, I have watched numerous reserve outings, (I refuse to refer to them as the Elite Development Squad as the club would like me to) and to be quite honest it tends to be an underwhelming experience.  For every young prodigy trying to make his way in the game, there is a washed up has been not deemed good enough for first team action.

Academy level football is more interesting, but it still suffers through a lack of genuine structure and competition, the youth FA Cup final often draws some attention, but the league games barely garner any coverage.  That is where the ‘Nextgen Series’ comes in, aside from being a pretty dire name for a football tournament, it is a pretty interesting concept that has recently been announced.

Essentially the idea is remarkably simple, some of the biggest teams in Europe (and some tiny ones as well) field an under 19 team that competes across the season, starting with groups and then continuing to a knock out phase until the ultimate winner is decided, basically an Under 19’s Champions League.

The concept sounds fantastic, youngsters will be playing much more meaningful football and this will obviously help their development, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a fair few issues.  Firstly, the list of competing clubs is not particularly extensive, 16 teams will initially be split into 4 groups, the clubs competing are: Barcelona, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Marseille, Sporting Lisbon, Wolfsburg, Molde, PSV, Celtic, FC Basel, Fenerbache and Rosenborg.  The glamour teams jump out at you, but then you notice some big hitters missing from the list, what of United, Chelsea and Madrid for example?

I would have thought teams of that size will have been offered a place, and for whatever reason they turned it down.  I still think that there are enough big names to make the tournament work, but imagine hosting a World Cup without Argentina, Spain and Italy?  I suppose the realistic explanation is that these clubs are standing on the edge, and judging the success of the tournament before they commit to such a big undertaking.

What of the bigger footballing picture however?  As a City supporter who grew up with Stockport County as a second team, I have always been interested in the lower leagues, and I think it is there that this new tournament could do the most damage.  The lower league argument works on two fronts, if this competition works, big clubs will be ripping players out of League 2, not to turn out for their first team, but to play in a potentially glorified under age friendly tournament.  I suppose it could be said that the number of players making that jump is tiny as it is, so this affect might not be too large, but what of the loan market?

Stockport County this season had a really tough time, and their one bright spark was Everton teenager, James Wallace.  The 19 year joined the Cheshire club in February and was fantastic, he got kicked about, and got some rough treatment but his class was there for all to see.  Now if Everton were in this tournament, would the youngster have been allowed to cut his teeth in the lower leagues and help out a club feeding off financial scraps?  Of course he wouldn’t, he would be saved for a ‘glamour Nextgen tie’ with Rosenborg.

Small clubs rely on the loan market, and if those opportunities were curbed with this new tournament I can see small teams once again being hit hard.  The cynical part of me sees this as a bit of a money making exercise for bigger clubs predominantly, and a kick in the teeth to those less fortunate.

In all honesty though, I have to admit to having mixed emotions, even with my reservations, how would I feel if City had opted out?  I think I would have been disappointed, it may be sponsored by 101 different companies, but if it helps players develop it is certainly a good thing and should be praised as a fan of a competing team. 

The effect on the lower leagues obviously can’t be measured at this point and much of my argument is hypothetical, but my Oldham support flat mate can’t see any benefit for those at the bottom, he only sees damage….

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Rumour Mill - £15M Argentine Striker A Possibility?

An interesting rumour today can be found lurking in the Mail, since that particular paper is one step away from a tabloid, their rumours tend to be utter drivel, but I actually really hope there is some truth in this one.

According to the newspaper Real Madrid are ready to listen to offers for Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, to make the story even more interesting they reckon that Jose Mourinho could be ready to let him go for as little as £15million...surely this a no brainer.

The striker would cost LESS than Jo, think about that for a second, the Brazilian striker supposedly cost £20million (how much of that we paid remains to be seen, much of that was apparently based on appearances and other criteria) and for the money he has provided 6 goals in 38 appearances, only 1 of those coming in the league, nothing more really needs to be said about the 24 year old.

Higuain on the other hand has a fantastic scoring record and has demonstrated himself to be a fine footballer.  After performing very well for River Plate in South America he made the move for Real Madrid, costing the Spanish side €13million.  His form there has been excellent, netting 77 goals in 166 games as well as providing 26 assists.

I think clearly he would be a great addition if he was willing to be part of a squad set up, there are question marks over that since his growing frustration at Madrid is due to a lack of first team opportunities.  He has only appeared in 17 La Liga games this season  due to a back injury but he did manage 10 goals in that time, I find it quite baffling why he isn't their first choice striker.  If he could be tempted to move however I think he would be a tremendous asset, especially if Carlos Tevez leaves.

In an extension to the story however, the players father has spoken out and claimed that his son would like to stay in Spain and fight for a place in the first team, he said:

"A lot of clubs like my son....We are honoured by their interest, but Gonzalo wants to remain in Spain with Real Madrid.".

Clearly this could make a deal more difficult to put together, but in the end money talks and if Madrid do really want to get rid of him the player may have very little choice.  An ideal situation would be a swap deal involving Emmanuel Adebayor, but there would still be the problem of assuring the player that there would be enough opportunities for him to play.  Arsenal and Tottenham are also interested and it is highly conceivable that they would be a more attractive option since they would offer him definite first team football every week.

If he could be convinced though this is one deal that I think would be fantastic, and would really help us going forward.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Is Jerome Boateng Becoming A Forgotten Man?

Last Summer was a really exciting transfer window for all Manchester City fans, the massive signings of players such as Silva and Toure suggested that a great season was on the way, and it certainly turned out to be that.  It is strange to now look back though and think that Jerome Boateng was one of the signings that I was most excited about.

There were murmurings about his arrival before the previous season had ended, and it seemed to be a dead cert that he would be a City player evetually.  The deal made sense in many ways, a young versatile, athletic defender who wasn't overly expensive, paying around £10million for the 22 year old seemed like good business.  Expectations raised even further when he went off to the World Cup, and playing in one of his unfavored positions, left back, he did really well.

I suppose in many ways his career highlight at City was that pre-season friendly against Valencia when he laid on a goal for Gareth Barry after a fantastic surging run down the right wing.  Things quickly went down hill, he injured his knee in a freak accident involving a drinks trolley, and when he finally returned to fitness his form was patchy to say the least.

Despite making 24 appearances in all competitions he has failed to impress, and due to injury and lack of form he has began to become the forgotten man.  Personally I am guilty of criticising Boateng, it is fair to say he has taken a long time to adjust to English football and he is still working on that, but there is clearly talent there.

Reports continue to circulate suggesting that he could be ready for a swift return to German, and Bayern Munich to be precise.  The stumbling block seems to be the price, with City holding out for around £17million to consider selling the player, a figure which would represent a fine bit of business, but I think that would be a massive mistake.

My defense of Boateng is pretty straight forward really, firstly he is only 22, and he is still learning his trade, at that age players need time to develop in their own country, let alone abroad.  The next crucial factor is that he has been forced to play out of position for the vast majority of his career at Eastlands, I will hold my hands up and say that I don't think he will ever be a world class full back, but when he has played at centre back on the odd occasion, I think he has looked a lot more composed.  Injuries have also had a massive effect on the player, there can't have been many points in the season where he has been fully fit, and he has never really had a long run of games in his favoured position. 

Essentially I think it is far too early to judge the player, he may be forgotten at the moment, but I think if we stick with him for another season and use him in his favoured position he could turn into a fine asset for this football club.