Manchester City have been unusually quiet on the transfer front until the recent news that they could sign Clichy and Nasri from Arsenal. These two purchases could now mean they are ready to overhaul Manchester United...
Proving once again that the tabloids are just groping around in the dark like the rest of us The Sun yesterday claimed that Manchester City were ready to test Everton’s resolve with a twenty million bid for Leighton Baines. Hours later reports began to circulate about the imminent arrival of Arsenal’s Clichy instead.
Then came the Nasri rumours. These, to be fair on the befuddled red tops, seemingly came from nowhere as it was commonly believed that the tricky Frenchman was heading, not to Manchester, but to its neighbouring city of Salford, home of Manchester United.
The internet grapevine predictably whirred into action and Sky Sports News struggled to keep up with developments, mainly due to there being no actual developments to keep up with.
Yet one thing can safely be surmised; Manchester City, scorched by the Sanchez debacle, are changing tack and conducting their transfer activity further beneath the radar.
City’s second double swoop on the Emirates within a year – if that is what it eventually becomes – was a body-swerve that left everyone floundering (indeed Nasri himself would have heartily approved) but really it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. As Manchester United busy themselves recruiting promising young replacements for their aging squad, Liverpool fire off bids for anyone who can potentially understand Dalglish’s accent, and Chelsea appear determined to construct a team that would clean up on Football Manager, at Eastlands it’s been quiet. Too quiet.
It was only a matter of time before they joined the party and did so releasing streamers of banknotes.
Until Nasri puts pen to contract there will be very few blues singing La Marseillaise however. In fact the closer a deal is to being struck the higher the likelihood of Ferguson getting into his Jag and kidnapping the player like he did Berbatov. But certainly with reliable reports of his agent flying up to meet City’s representatives – and Wenger reluctant in the extreme to relinquish his prized asset to Manchester United - events are starting to transcend idle gossip and there is perhaps enough evidence to allow supporters the indulgence of imagining Nasri and Silva jinking and scheming in tandem next season.
They really would make a terrifying duo for any defence already beleaguered by Tevez’s ferocious foraging and Balotelli’s individual brilliance. Both are sublime at finding pockets of space before picking them mercilessly with Nasri even capable of getting on the end of things himself and reaching double figures. I love David Silva – it extends far beyond a mere man-crush – but the diminutive Spaniard is so shot-shy you fear he’d be seeking out a team-mate with the ball on the goal-line.
The only sticking point should Nasri come is his desire to play centrally. Regardless of his extraordinary ability to retain possession in the tightest of situations and an almost freakish swiftness and power to his dribbling the lad is no playmaker. His passing can be somewhat disappointing and it is Silva, who last lost possession purposely for a joke back in his Valencia youth, who is best employed in such a role, spear-heading a midfield three with Yaya Toure constrained to a deeper holding position he perfected at the Nou Camp.
It should also not go unnoticed Bobby Mancini’s uncanny ability to drill discipline and conformity into his defenders.
Whereas the capture of Samir has prompted widespread salivation the probable arrival of Clichy has evoked mixed feelings amongst the Manchester City faithful. Though he was sensational during his early Emirates days the general feeling, from gooners particularly, is that his perennial under-study Gibbs is by far the better prospect were it not for his injury woes. Clichy’s form has been erratic for a couple of seasons or more – too long to be excused as a ‘dip’ – with regular lapses in concentration and a tendency to aim for the linesman on the far side of the field when crossing. Some even regard him as the weak link in the Arsenal defence which is quite disconcerting when you consider their back-line was strung together with paper chains for much of last year.
There is little doubt that Baines would have been the preferred option to improve City’s problematic left-back position but the proposed seven million fee represents sound business, especially for someone who counts towards the home-grown quota – an important consideration in modern times. It should also not go unnoticed Bobby Mancini’s uncanny ability to drill discipline and conformity into his defenders. Before Christmas Micah Richards resembled a headless chicken on steroids. For the latter half of the season – once he embraced the uber-strict Italian’s martinet ways – he was nothing short of a revelation.
Additionally Clichy’s wastefulness in the final third won’t overly trouble blues who have witnessed Alexander Kolorov’s comical thunderbolts from any and every area of the pitch. The ball at his feet is a bullet in an AK-47. In the hands of a lunatic.
The potential arrival of the French duo to City will have reverberations across the Premier League. Liverpool wanted the left-back badly and their hunt for Plan B – probably Enrique from Newcastle – now takes on a critical tone. Should they fail to lure him down from the North-East, after missing out on Clichy and Wickham before him, they risk a domino-effect of negativity as it becomes the trend to decline a move to Anfield. Dalglish’s revolution might yet have the doomed pulling power of a forty-year-old eligible bachelor – an attractive proposition but potential suitors assume something must be wrong with him to be previously overlooked so often.
But today isn’t about the chase for top quality left-backs no matter how thin on the ground they are at present. It is about a club ready to explode onto the biggest stage furthering their arsenal of talents with an ingenious magician who gets pulses racing and defenders flailing.
Nasri could make us the Arsenal of the North…only with a brilliant keeper, watertight defence, De Jong snapping away in front of them, and Tevez prowling up front. These are indeed exciting times to be a blue.
Alas, off the pitch, Nasri can be ever-so-slightly, and quite hilariously, self-righteous.
Speaking last year the Frenchman struggled to hide his frustration at the Gunners’ lack of silverware – ‘It is unfair because I think we have more merit as a club than those who have built their teams with millions of pounds’. As we all know Samir was raised in North London – he probably auditioned at some point for Grange Hill - and worked his way tenaciously through the Arsenal youth academy.
Nevermind. Such pious soundbites will be soon forgiven once he flat-foots his hated nemesis Evra against Manchester United in October. Welcome to Manchester Samir.
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