By William Wood | In General
As expected, Manchester City have already been busy in the transfer market, securing several key signings as Mark Hughes looks to bolster his squad, while a host of other names have been linked with the club.
In a surprise swoop, City secured the signing of Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry for £12 million ahead of Premier League runners-up Liverpool, the latter of whom had undergone a 12 month pursuit of the midfielder.
The signing was a signal of the changing times in the league, with the veteran of over 400 games and 30 England caps opting against the assurance of Champions League football in favour of the exciting project unfolding at the City of Manchester stadium.
Next up was long-term target Roque Santa Cruz, Hughes returning to former club Blackburn Rovers to complete a deal that could eventually be worth £18 million for the Ewood Park outfit.
The Paraguayan enjoyed a dream debut season in England, netting 23 goals in 43 appearances under Hughes’ tutelage, and while injuries hampered his efforts last term, the manager will be confident of extracting his full quality once again.
There were also changes in the goalkeeping department. Joe Hart, who played a key role in helping England Under-21s reach the final of the European Under-21 Championships in Sweden alongside Micah in June, joined Birmingham City on loan as he looked to secure regular first-team football at this crucial stage of his career.
Hughes had already returned to Villa Park to sign up Stuart Taylor as experienced cover for No.1 Shay Given, thus allowing him to sanction Hart’s temporary departure, and the 28-year old boasts eight years of experience with Arsenal amongst other clubs.
Other departures saw youngster Daniel Sturridge join Chelsea in a deal that will be concluded at a tribunal to decide how much compensation City receive, while experienced midfielder Dietmar Hamann was released.
As well as the completed deals, City have unsurprisingly been linked with a plethora of players, ranging from Carlos Tevez to Ronaldinho to John Terry to Samuel Eto’o.
Tevez turned down a five-year deal at rivals Manchester United as he went in search of a regular starting berth, and the Argentina international is known to be keen on a switch to City having settled in the area.
The Terry speculation continues to rumble on, with Chelsea asking their skipper for public confirmation of his commitment to the club, though it remains to be seen whether the England international could be tempted away from Stamford Bridge.
Similarly, Eto’o was among the first batch of big-name players linked with a move to City following the influx of wealth, and his will-he-won’t-he-leave position at Barcelona has fuelled reports that Hughes sanctioned a £25 million bid for the Cameroonian.
Though much of the hype seems to be newspaper speculation, the striker – a key component of Barca’s treble-success last season – only has 12 months remaining on his current contract, and the club and player’s hands may be forced should they fail to agree terms on a new deal.
One thing that is certain is that City will continue to be linked with a range of players hereon in, but the noises emanating from other Premier League clubs confirms the fear that has enveloped their rivals who are facing up to their being a new kid on the block.