Thursday, 7 June 2012

An early look at 2012-13

After taking a a few weeks off from writing anything, I thought I had better do something, so I've decided to take a look at what City might, and in some cases what I hope they do between now and next season with regards to transfers in and out. 

Transfers - Out

The first thing City needs to do, and this almost goes without saying now, is find permanent homes for a number of players. Ade, RSC, and Bridge are the most important players to get rid of as they are the ones earning ridiculous money that is eating into City's wage budget. Depending on where you look their combined wages are an estimated £300k a week. That's £15.6m a year wasted on these 3 alone. 

I know City are reluctant to accept a pittance for these players but it may well be worth it just to get shot of them as I can't see anyone paying much for either of them. Seriously, what are we going to get for Bridge, a player who has barely kicked a ball for the last 2 years and is going to be 32 by the time the next season starts? Mind you, it's not for the lack of trying, City accepted an offer for him last season and he opted to sit on his arse and collect his wages. 

I'm guessing RSC is worth between £3m-£4m at the moment taking everything into consideration. And after the season he has just had, if (and this is a big if) he would lower his wage demands, Ade could fetch a decent price. 

Then we come to Michael Johnson, once the most exciting prospect of the last 20 years, his career has been dogged with injury and persistent rumours and stories of him just not having the right attitude to change potential into actual ability. The Championship, at best, beckons for him now. 

Several players have been linked with moves away from the club, Zabaleta, Kolarov, and D┼żeko, but unless a handsome offer is made, I can't see City parting with them.

Oddly, after all the fuss in January, there haven't been many more rumours about the potential departure of Tevez. With Carlos again saying he is happy at the club, it's a mystery as to what will happen with him in the coming months, if anything at all. 

Kolo Toure isn't likely to get back into the starting 11 very often, but is a decent back up to Lescott or Kompany so depending on whether he wants to stay or not, we could see him in Paris or Makhachkala if reports are to be believed. 

Last of all, Adam Johnson. Despite arriving full of promise, it just hasn't happened for AJ. He does have a good scoring record, but the goals are generally against weaker opposition and aren't usually important goals. Although saying that is a slight contradiction considering the league was won on goal difference. 

He just isn't what you'd call a 'Mancini player', he doesn't offer enough in his all-round game, and I strongly believe he wasn't a player Mancini would have signed had he not have to make a choice between AJ and Victor Moses at the time. 

If a good enough offer comes in from the likes of Sunderland or Newcastle, both who are rumoured to be interested, then I don't expect him to be turning out for us next season.

Loans - Out

Weiss will once again return from another season out on loan, this time from Espanyol. A recent interview from him suggests that he still believes he is potentially in Mancini's long-term plans and I would guess another pre-season assessment will be made before any decisions to loan, sell, or integrate him into the 1st team. There are several rumours of potential bids coming in for him before then, and Mancini may well be tempted to let him go if the right offer comes in. 

If Mancini does decide Weiss has improved enough, it could mean City save a tidy sum on purchasing a player with the ability to play out wide as well as having a home-grown player in the squad who has come through the ranks of our Academy.

I know he's been a bit of a tit in the past, especially whilst at Rangers, but if it's for the good of the squad and he applies himself then these 'minor' past transgressions can be overlooked. 

There are a number of other young players whose future is uncertain at this moment in time. Nimely, Cunningham, McGivern, Bunn, Wabara, and Ibrahim (currently on loan in Norway) all being close to the top of the list. Each of these players has talent, but can either of them make the transition to the first team this season? I doubt it, and with the current squad as it stands, some or all of them may have to move on in the next season or two, which is a real shame, and I hope to be proved wrong on at least some of them. 

I do think there will be plenty of other loans out next season, Scapuzzi, Razak, Rekik, Suarez,  Savic, Boyata and Roman amongst them. All are at different stages of their development but all in need of regular time on the pitch throughout a whole season to test them. It's a shame the Premier U21 League plans aren't being rolled out fully until 2013-14, because all of the above would have benefited from it next season, regardless of their ages in the case of those still under 20. 

As for players with a somewhat uncertain immediate future. Guidetti has to be top of that list. I know that sounds stupid after the season he's just had, but let me explain. 

At this moment in time Mancini has said he is happy to keep all 4 strikers from last season and doesn't need another. So if all 4 stay, who is Guidetti going to push in front of right now? As much as I would like to see him given a chance, my gut feeling is that he will be loaned out to a Premier League club to see if he can recreate the kind of form he showed last season for Feyenoord where he got 20 goals and 8 assists in just 22 games. That is impressive for a young player regardless of the league.

There are already a number of clubs reportedly interested in loan deals for the striker, several from the Premier League such as Sunderland and Swansea. However now Swansea are without Brendan Rogers I doubt he will be going there. We shall just have to sit tight on this one. 

Transfers - In

Now to the exciting, sometimes tedious, and most difficult to predict part, transfers in. Already the much talked about move for Eden Hazard came to and end with the Belgian agreeing a move to Chelsea but in the months after the close of the January transfer window, City have been linked with another 46 players. Obviously, unless you're an idiot, you will know that the vast majority of the rumours are just rubbish to fill column inches. I'll take a look at some of the high profile ones as well as some that may have slipped under your radar. 

There have been a plethora of strikers linked with moves to the Etihad this summer; Van Persie, Cavani, Falcao, Ibrahimovic, Llorente, Sturridge, Lavezzi, and Hulk all included. 

At this moment in time I actually think Sturridge is the player most likely of these to join for various reasons. Mancini has publicly stated that the decision to let Sturridge go was a big mistake, although I'm not sure he is fully aware of what went on at the time and just how much money we didn't have. Daniel is also a fast, very direct player and offers the option to play out wide or in the centre as a striker, the kind of player City are lacking. 

Ironically, Sturridge will probably be asking for less wages than the majority of the other players on that list too. And with the players that Chelsea have brought in and are looking to bring in added to the rumours that he was already unhappy, I wouldn't be surprised if he was playing in another shade of blue next season.

Whether he would be welcome back is another matter, although I would suggest before making judgement on Sturridge, each fan takes a look at how their feelings have changed towards Tevez since December. A lot appear to have totally forgiven him, others have grudgingly decided just to trust the manager's judgement on it and continue to support the squad as a whole, regardless of their personal feelings. Does a player's acceptance depend solely on his ability? I would hope not. 

With regards to the others, RVP and Lavezzi have definitely been enquired about in the past. Although with regards El Pocho, City have refused to pay his release clause of €30m in the past. And as for RVP, I doubt City will want to pay upwards of £30m for a player who is entering the last year of his contract, will be 29 at the start of the season, with a definite negative resale value and has only averaged 9 just over 9 goals a season if you take 2011-12 out of the equation (12.5 including it).  

Don't get me wrong, RVP was outstanding last season, but you wont get that from him again if he moves to another team. Some players just click with a certain team around them. RVP and Arsenal are one of those examples in my own insignificant opinion. 

I think I would be right in saying that there are a lot of fans who think the club needs another player who is capable of playing out wide. Although Mancini generally doesn't play with traditional wingers, he did start to play Adam Johnson on the left a couple of times towards the end of the season. The well documented pursuit of Eden Hazard is a clear indication that Mancini was looking at adding a player who could provide width and versatility to the squad for next season.  

As already stated, Sturridge may be that player, but he's a striker at heart and I know I've kind of contradicted myself with this one with Mancini saying he's happy with the strikers he has, but as I said, he does offer an option out wide, especially if AJ ends up leaving.

Talking of wingers, Bale and Ronaldo have been touted as potential targets, again. But the ridiculous money needed to bring either one of them to City puts them out of the question for me. Coupled with the fact I can't stand the sight of Ronaldo of course. 

There is a report of a possible swap deal for Bale though. Adebayor, who is so desperate to stay at Spurs, and AJ who is becoming more a bit part player each season, are the players rumoured to be used. Although I don't think Bale is quite as good as the media and saggy chops have made out, he is still a very good player. This wouldn't be a bad bit of business should the report be accurate, but I doubt it is. 

There have also been plenty of attacking midfielders linked with moves to Manchester, but I honestly can't see any more players in the Silva/Nasri positions being brought into the club at this moment in time. So that rules out the likes of Sneijder, Sessegnon,  Ander Herrera and several others unless they have the ability to offer something on the wings as well. Just my opinion though. 

An area that Mancini felt needed backup at the start of last season was in the centre of midfield. The signing of Hargreaves on a free was a a long shot at best and only done because City are conscious of what they're spending at the moment, and Pizarro on loan added a temporary string to City's bow with his range of passing. 

Hargreaves' contract was not renewed and Pizarro has expressed a desire to remain at Roma leaving a space to be filled in the squad. Javi Garcia and Javi Martinez are two players who have been mentioned. If I had the choice of either two, Martinez would be my choice as he has the ability to play as a holding midfielder and a centre-back. 

That kind of versatility is something of which Mancini is a great admirer and would set City back around £25m for the 23 year old Spaniard. It's certainly one of the more credible transfer rumours with City potentially looking for players to cover either role. This kills 2 birds with 1 stone. 

With a couple of players in each position already at or reaching a certain age, he could well be a good long-term replacement for someone in the future. He shouldn't have trouble fitting in either due to the number of other native Spanish and Spanish speaking players already at City. 

As already mentioned, centre-back is a position many feel needs strengthening at least as far as cover is concerned.

Chiellini, Coloccini, Radu, Sakho, Ranocchia and Thiago Silva have all had their names thrown in the hat by the papers. Silva appears to be staying at Milan, Radu is a left-back and unless Kolarov goes City don't need another one. 

Coloccini would undoubtedly be a great player to have in the squad, but Newcastle have got a good thing going on there at the moment and he is an integral part of that squad. I'm not sure he would want to move and be a bit-part player, even at the Premier League Champions. 

It's a similar situation with Chiellini at Juve, only they have been crowned champions of Italy. Him being left-footed and ability to cover left-back may tempt Mancini to offer good money for him, although I actually hope he sticks with the Kompany-Lescott pairing. At 27 he isn't going to improve that much more and will no doubt take a season to adapt. Would he be worth the £25m (minimum) it would take to get him here? I'm not so sure. 

Ranocchia and Sakho are the more likely options then, both young, tall, good in the air and both likely to chip in with the odd goal from a set piece. Ranocchia isn't a first team regular and would probably be the cheaper option, but Sakho is younger and with him being left footed it would provide more balance in the centre should Lescott be out and Kolo is still around. 

Despite being the PSG captain, he may be available for around £15m so wouldn't break the bank when considering the FFP rules. Whether he could make the change from Ligue 1 to the Premier League is another question, but it is one every overseas transfer has to answer anyway. 

There are plenty of other names to go at, including a handful of youngsters such as Nabay (13) from Birmingham, Powell (18) from Crewe, Magallan (18) from La Plata, Jules Ntcham (16) from Le Havre and Hughes (16) from Derby.

City usually play things close to their chest though and I would think the Euros will  no doubt fire out some more names for the papers to link City with, but there's my general thoughts on what may occur during the summer. Do you agree or disagree with any of that? Leave a comment and have your say. 

Twitter: @MikeWalshMCFC
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