written for By Far The Greatest Team
This summer looks set to be the most interesting in Manchester City’s recent history. With our relative failure on the pitch, a number of big-earners set to leave, and Txiki Begiristain overseeing his first summer recruitment drive at the club, there appears to be a perfect storm gathering that should see a squad overhaul take shape. Recent lacklustre performances have suggested a number of City players already know they’re leaving this summer, so I’ve listed ten players who I feel could realistically be heading out, from big-names like Carlos Tevez, to forgotten loanees like Wayne Bridge. Mario Balotelli has already gone, with City banking £20m in January. If the players listed here follow him out of the Etihad exit door, the club should have considerable room to manouvre in this summer’s market.
Tevez is rumoured to be earning £200k-a-week. It’s a colossal amount to be paying anyone but then again Tevez isn’t just anyone. He’s a fantastic player with a first-class attitude on the pitch. However, this summer the club must do all they can to find a buyer for him. There are two huge problems with Tevez: his desire to leave and his ability to stir up trouble.
With less than 18 months of his contract left, he’s expressed his desire to run his contract down before leaving for Argentina on a free. It’s a risk we cannot take. Add to that his propensity for throwing his toys out the pram, and a sale is definitely better for the club. It would certainly free up enough wage space for a new world-class striker to come in, with Edinson Cavani topping Mancini’s summer wish list.
Although I respect Tevez’s approach on the pitch, I’ve never forgiven him for last season. In truth, I’ll be glad to see the back of him if he does leave.
The situation with Kolo Toure is strange. Written off by many after his shaky performances last season, he was expected to leave us in the summer when his contract expires to free up his mammoth £120k-a-week wages, but his brilliant performances this season have now made the picture less clear. Pretty much every time he’s been called upon he’s been excellent.
It may now be in the club’s interest to try to offer him a new deal before the 1st of July when he becomes a free agent, although, there would have to be a significant reduction in salary. It’s unclear at this stage whether the club are considering that, or, indeed, whether the player would accept reduced terms, but the way he’s played suggests he still has the ability to be a quality reserve centre-back. My guess is he’ll leave.
Edin Dzeko seems to confuse people outside of City. With his decent goal record and his ability to score important goals, neutrals are often fooled into thinking he’s a class player that just isn’t shown enough love by Mancini. All of that is nonsense. He seems like a great guy and a decent professional, but he is staggeringly inconsistent and frustrating. When he starts for us he’s often a complete non-entity, failing to impose himself on the game to any degree. He doesn’t bully opposition defenders and allow our supporting cast of forwards time and space, nor does he bring enough ability to the table to play the passing game favoured by Silva, Aguero et al.
There have been strong suggestions Borussia Dortmund are ready to offer £20m to sign him. If that turns out to be true, my message to the City board is simple: snap their hand off.
The City fans can’t stand Nasri, and even Mancini reserved special criticism for him during his recent interview with Daniel Taylor in the Guardian. Closing his eyes and jumping out-of-the-way for the van Persie free-kick during the 3-2 derby defeat at the Etihad was the tip of the iceberg; his general lack of fight and his tendency to drift in and out of games had already worn the City fans’ patience thin. He’s now very much a substitute.
What makes this situation so frustrating is that, unlike other players, Nasri has outstanding technical ability. He has a footballing brain and a talent which, when used properly (like it was during his last season at Arsenal), makes him an outstanding player. Mancini, quite rightly, believes he could be one of the finest in Europe, but he questions his attitude.
“I think Samir has fantastic qualities. With his quality, he should always play well. Every game he could be the difference. A player of this quality could be one of the best players in Europe. But it’s not happening.
Sometimes a player thinks it’s enough what they did the year before and doesn’t understand that every day they should improve. If you are a top player you know you can improve until the last day of your career but sometimes you get players who think it is not important to work and this is their worst mistake. Samir can do better than this year. He is a top player but he has not been playing at his level.”
Comments like that suggest the fans’ desire to see him leave may well come to fruition.
Signed for £17m, Kolarov represents Mancini’s worst piece of transfer business: a player with no discernible value, a frustrating greedy streak, and an inability to defend. When a side forks out so much for a full-back, you’d expect to sign one of the finest in the world. To say City overpaid is an understatement; it’s a no-brainer that he must be sold.
The problem with this is it’s extremely unlikely anyone will take on his wages. Reports at the time of signing him suggested we gave him a £100k-a-week contract, and I’d be shocked if there’s a club in the world who would match that for such a poor player. The one saving grace is the fact that he does have a good reputation in Italy. If he is prepared to take a pay-cut, we may be able to find him a move.
If Kolarov is Mancini’s worst signing, Sinclair is his strangest. There were very few observers who saw this as a good deal for City. He wasn’t even guaranteed his place at Swansea, and Pablo Hernandez, his replacement at the Liberty Stadium, is a better player. Mancini has claimed that it’s his fault Sinclair has struggled since he hasn’t played him much, but the truth is, when he has played, he’s looked like a deer in the headlights, completely out of his depth.
For the sake of his career I’d look to move him on.
Of all the players I’ve mentioned, Lescott is the one I’d most like to keep. A superb defender with a perfect attitude, there’s nothing not to like about him. The graceful way he’s accepted Nastasic deserves his place in the side is just the latest reason to love Lescott, a player who was brilliant for us in our title-winning season.
The reason I include him here is because a player of his ability whose career is entering its latter stages needs to be playing more. I think there could well be a desire on the part of the player to leave and, if that turns out to be the case, he will go with the best wishes of all the City fans. A player that was struggling for form under the shaky stewardship of Mark Hughes has flourished under Mancini. I’ll never forget the contribution he made to our success if he does decide to go.
It just hasn’t worked out, has it? We didn’t need him and he’s past it anyway.
Wayne Bridge & Roque Santa Cruz
Yes, amazingly, these two players are still officially on City’s payroll until their contracts end in the summer. Bridge in on £90k-a-week, with Santa Cruz rumoured to be on something similar, and the fact that their last touches of a ball in a City shirt is a distant memory is a sad indictment of the Hughes-era recruitment policy. I cannot wait to get them off the books.