We’ve become accustomed to Manchester City operating on a different planet, one far away where football finances are not even precarious just irrelevant.
Their inactivity this month hints that some of that irrelevance may be drifting towards cautiousness, even sensibility. The talking point has been Mario Balotelli’s sale and not prospective purchases.
But, with the confirmation that Balotelli has been shipped back to Italy to delight AC Milan, the gossip merchants are searching for a new name to latch to. Suddenly City could be forced into action. Come on down, David Villa.
The gap in City’s striking ranks has seen him heavily linked with the Premier League champions in various media outlets, with the Daily Mirror saying they have already enquired about his availability.
The Spanish striker has been on Arsenal’s wish list, although any move looked to be dead after Arsene Wenger admitted that Barcelona didn’t want to sell. He said:
You respect the desire [of the club]…If I say that somebody is not for transfer, I expect the other clubs not to try to buy him.”
Conflicting reports from the Daily Mail now suggest that Wenger will make a final attempt, despite his words to the contrary. Villa is also keen, say the Mail, on joining the Gunners. However, that could all change with City’s cheque book being opened. A £15 million bid is being prepared for the 31-year-old, and it is not unthinkable that the La Liga leaders will sell.
And, what might tip the balance is the makeup of the boardroom at the Etihad. Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, now chief executive and sporting director respectively, are former Barca employees. They will have friends in the corridors of the Camp Nou. Friends they can perhaps put to good use?
A further point of discussion is Villa’s injury record. A broken leg kept him out for the majority of last season and he has struggled to recapture his best form since, with five goals in 14 La Liga matches at the time of writing.
External factors aside, he is a poacher, a menace and a joyful player to watch. Balotelli talked the talk but rarely walked the walk. He failed to combine promise with fulfillment, instead combining wealth with immaturity.
Villa is different. His achievements – World Cup, European Championships, La Liga titles and more – are proof that no stage frightens him. He relishes it. Mancini has solved the first part of the equation after waving goodbye to Balotelli, but he doesn’t need to rack his brains for the second.