With an inaugural Champions League campaign to prepare for, Manchester City would have been hoping for a summer spent correcting any deficiencies in the squad of manager Roberto Mancini and finding new clubs for some of the numerous unwanted – and well paid – squad members. Carlos Tevez’s transfer request, however, has given the Italian a new priority.
Declaring his intention to leave for the second time in little over six months, Tevez, the Manchester City captain and talismanic symbol of the club’s lofty aspirations, has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, Juventus and, perhaps most surprisingly, a return to former club Corinthians of Brazil. A fee anywhere between £35m and £49m has been mentioned, with the South American outfit reportedly unable to match City’s demands for a player under a long-term contract and paid a wage that would dwarf any in the Brazilian league. Meanwhile, Juventus are closer to signing Giuseppe Rossi from Villarreal than Tevez, and Madrid, despite Jose Mourinho being in the market for a striker, have shown little concrete interest in the Argentinean. Chelsea and Inter are two further potential suitors, with the London side seeking to rejuvenate their squad under Andre Villas-Boas and the Italians potentially cash rich from the possible sale of Wesley Sneijder to Manchester United.
Should Tevez leave City will have to move quickly to replace the talent that netted 23 times last season. Sergio Aguero, the Atletico Madrid forward, is the latest name suggested and the 23-year-old has confirmed his desire to leave his current club this summer, although remaining in Spain, following Tevez’s lead in crossing a city to move to his current club’s rivals, is perhaps more likely. Mourinho is a known admirer of Diego Maradona’s son-in-law and the feeling from Aguero is mutual, but the Portuguese could favour a permanent move for Emmanuel Adebayor instead, a stance that doubly suits City – it would free Aguero up for a move to Manchester and rid the club of one of the many players they are desperate to release. Alexis Sanchez, the seemingly-Barcelona bound Udinese forward who Mancini publicly admitted defeat in pursuing, Bayern Munich’s versatile midfielder-cum-striker Thomas Muller and Samuel Eto’o are other reported targets but the list is headed by Aguero.
Nevertheless, outgoings may prove just as important as incomings this summer. With the squad currently bulging at the seams as 30 players vie for the manager’s consideration, at least a further half-dozen will have to follow Jerome Boateng out the door. The Germany full-back has moved to Bayern Munich but leaves behind the likes of Adebayor, Jo, Wayne Bridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Roque Santa Cruz and Craig Bellamy, six players who between them made a combined 31 appearances in the Premier League last season. Bellamy has suitors both in the top flights of England and Scotland and below, with a return to Cardiff City his preferred option, while Jo could move back to Russia and CSKA Moscow. Wright-Phillips has been linked to Wigan Athletic, Bridge to Liverpool and Santa Cruz with a generous pay-off to become a free agent. The future Nedum Onouha is yet to be decided either after the right-back’s loan spell at Sunderland ended in May, while Shay Given should soon complete a move to Aston Villa.
Gael Clichy has been drafted in from Arsenal to fill the problem left-back spot, attempting to succeed where Bridge and Boateng have failed. Aleksandar Kolarov remains at the newly-named Etihad Stadium but must improve on a debut season hampered by injury and questionable defending to oust his new French teammate. The rest of City’s defence is likely to shape up similarly to last season with Vincent Kompany a guaranteed starter – and probable new captain if Tevez leaves – and Pablo Zabaleta at right-back. The identity of Kompany’s central defensive partner has yet to be determined but Kolo Toure’s drugs ban means it is between Joleon Lescott and Stefan Savic, the £6m signing. With Savic still just 20, however, the former Everton defender would be the favourite. Mancini’s midfield should hold a familiar look as that is one area of the pitch extensive and expensive signings have not been rumoured, although Wesley Sneijder was rumoured before Manchester United stepped up their interest, while the identity of the attack rests squarely with the future of Tevez. Joe Hart remains the first choice goalkeeper.
After a few years of profligate spending, City have, so far, been more restrained this summer. If City do dip into their massive resources for Aguero then it likely means Tevez has gone, but, with the possibility of such an able replacement, City’s Champions League chances will not go with him.
Stefan Savic DEF – £6m, Partizan Belgrade
Jerome Boateng DEF – undisclosed, Bayern Munich
Patrick Vieira MID – retired
Ben Mee DEF – Burnley, loan
Sergio Aguero FWD – Atletico Madrid
Samuel Eto’o FWD – Inter
Thomas Muller FWD – Bayern Munich