With Wayne Bridge’s move to West Ham confirmed, to the surprise of nobody in particular, intense media speculation has linked Roque Santa Cruz, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Emanuel Adebayor with transfers away from Eastlands. Of the three, Wright-Phillips and Adebayor have been treated to occasional appearances – usually in elegiac Europa League and League Cup matches – whilst Santa Cruz has spent the first half of the season moping on the sidelines. Excluded from City’s 25-man squad submitted at the end of August, a move away has been imminent.
Barely had the ink dried on Santa Cruz’s contract having signed for the Blues when the rumours of a return to Blackburn Rovers surfaced. Within six months of signing Santa Cruz for a second time, Mark Hughes was unceremoniously sacked. Roberto Mancini was instantly fixated upon playing 4-3-3 with Carlos Tevez at the pivot of attack. With Emanuel Adebayor also waiting in the wings, the Paraguayan’s time was up before he had time to settle at City. With memories of his 19-goal debut season in English football still relatively fresh in the memory at Ewood Park his return to Ewood Park will be a popular one, even if injury, loss of form and competition for first-team football has stunted his progress since.
Equally as likely as Santa Cruz to leave is Shaun Wright-Phillips. If Santa Cruz being dropped from the 25-man squad was surprising, Wright-Phillips’ inclusion on the opening day against Tottenham was astounding. Speculation throughout the summer had the football world convinced he was departing. In the event, his uncertainty and surprising tardiness on the ball – exemplified by getting the ball stuck under his feet when one-on-one with Gomes – made us wonder why he was picked in the first place. He was soon banished to the stands to await his exit. Fulham, Birmingham and West Ham hope to rejuvenate him.
Emanuel Adebayor’s future has been somewhat more clouded. Ahead of Santa Cruz in the pecking order, brief flashes of irresistible quality against Lech Poznan allowed hope to flare that he could be a viable alternative, or partner, to Carlos Tevez. Alas not. He followed that hat-trick with childish petulance at Molineux – the Adebayor capable of stamping on Robin van Persie’s head as opposed to the Adebayor notching a brace in the same game. To put it bluntly, amongst a squad of controversial, egotistical characters, his behaviour has been too rich – and his performances too poor – for City to accept.
Adebayor is in flux. He has already intimated he wants to leave, famously proclaiming in November that a deal had already been struck to take him to Juventus. However, Mancini is wary of allowing too many players to leave, especially as Mario Balotelli faces a month out with injury. Even so, a place on the substitute’s bench seems the best the Togolese hitman can hope for. Do not be surprised if his departure is announced before the calendar pages turn.