Sunday, 8 November 2009

Times: City move for Di María

A new transfer rumour in the Sunday Times: City are set to move for Benfica's 21 year old Argentine winger Ángel Di María, should Robinho leave:

Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira met City officials in Liverpool on Thursday before his club’s Europa League victory over Everton. Though Benfica will resist selling Di Maria during a season in which they hold a realistic chance of regaining the Portuguese title for the first time in five years, they will encourage suitors in the summer. Di Maria, whose transfer rights are 20% owned by a third-party investment fund, is valued by the club at more than £27m. At 21, the player has established himself in Argentina’s World Cup squad, having scored an audacious winning goal in the final of the 2008 Olympic tournament.

It's certainly a new one, and quite a surprise. I've seen quite a bit of Di María over the last year or so and he doesn't look much like the sort of player Mark Hughes would go for. Just go through the main criteria he looks for in signing a player: experience - at the top end of the EPL, and of winning trophies, a winning mentality, athleticism, being at the peak of his game. Put simply, none of them are there with Di María.

He's clearly a prodigious talent: technically gifted, able to breeze past defenders, with a good shot and a taste for the unexpected. But that's not to say that he's anywhere near the finished article. If we have to replace Robinho with a big money left-winger we are surely more likely to go for a more developed player. The News of the World today claimed that we are in talks to sign Franck Ribéry. I can't see us getting Ribéry, but he certainly seems more like a more plausible target than Di María.

An interesting possibility, though, is that a potential move for Di María signals a move to a new transfer policy; focussing on the best of young talent rather than established stars. Ultimately, I think that the pressure to get as close to third or fourth as possible this year will mean that we stick with targeting established names. But it's a good story either way.

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