Two new and fairly fast moving transfer stories emerged yesterday evening, regarding our interest in Edin Džeko and David Silva. I'll blog about David Silva later but for now it's all about the man for Sarajevo.
This story started yesterday afternoon with Sky Sports News' 'understanding' that we were in talks with his representatives over a move. Speculation was inevitable this weekend as Džeko has a €40m (£34m) release clause in his contract which expires on Monday. Steve McClaren said in his unveiling as Wolfsburg manager that once the clause has expired his club can 'take a little bit more control over the situation'; meaning, presumably, that they can prevent his leaving or at least demand an extortionate fee. Pursuing the logic of this, MCFC have 72 hours to scrape together the £34m if we want him to be ours.
But I don't think it's that simple. Reports from Ian Herbert and Mark Ogden in today's papers suggest that we are relaxed about letting the deadline pass, comforted by the fact that we have no rival suitors. Come Monday we can negotiate a fee with Wolfsburg free from the pressures of an expiring clause, a fee Ian Herbert expects to be 'at a far lower price' than the €40m. Which implies a firm confidence on our part that we can tempt him to MCFC. Wolfsburg have no financial need to sell and so if they do it will because of enthusiasm for the move on the player's part. So at this point we can say City might well reel this one in.
So, what do I make of this? Christmas Eve enthusiasm, on two counts. The first is that Džeko is the type of player I want us to sign. He's young enough, at 24, with the most fertile years of his career still ahead of him. He is currently playing for a good team in a good league but having already won Bundesliga last season he may well be eager to try elsewhere. Of course our wages will be a factor in his enthusiasm but he would also see us as one of the most upwardly-mobile sides in one of Europe's most exciting divisions. The contrasts with Emmanuel Adebayor, Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and Kolo Touré are obvious. I've written enough times that players like Džeko, like Jérôme Boateng, are those around whom I want us to build. On an emotional level, too, I prefer seeing us buy from abroad. Another disconcerting element of our summer 2009 recruitment was that we were buying players with whom I was already deeply familiar from their time in the Premier League. It was Aston Villa's Gareth Barry, Arsenal's Kolo Touré - and in some sense it still is. It's harder to take them to heart. But when we signed Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany or Nigel de Jong they felt identifiably ours in a way that the others did not. Hence how quickly I fell for the class of summer 2007.
The second is that Džeko is the type of player I want us to sign. He's the partner Carlos Tévez has been waiting for. As regular readers know (and many disagree with me here), I don't think Adebayor is a good fit. He doesn't hold the ball up, use his physique, manipulate defenders or create space. Roque Santa Cruz can do all this when he plays but his body cannot be trusted. I know who I would most like, who does all these things as well as scoring thirty goals in a debut season including both in a European Cup final. But if I blog any more about Diego Milito I'll look like a stalker. And Milito is either going to be playing for Inter or Real Madrid next season - we don't have a shot. So Džeko is the next best option.
He looks like a genuinely excellent player. His record at Wolfsburg is exceptional. After a necessary bedding-in season he has scored 48 in 66 Bundesliga games, 65 in 87 in all competitions. It's a remarkable record, which won him the Player of the Season award, as well as the Bundesliga itself in 2008/09, and the top scorer gong in 2009/10. Raphael Honigstein named him the third best player in Germany this season, on account of his 22 goals and 10 assists, calling him 'Europe's most technically gifted target man.' Tor-Kristian Karlsen, who used to work in the Bundesliga as a scout says that he has 'absolutely everything' and would 'fit the bill in any of the top teams.'
There's a lot here to be excited about. But let's wait and see how it plays out.