Our fourth transfer of a thrilling summer went through yesterday: Lazio's Serbian left back Alexander Kolarov joined from Lazio. (I haven't decided on the transliteration of his Christian name - if you know Serbian and have an idea please let me know.)
A fee of £17m was agreed one week ago and just when I was starting to get anxious over the lack of finality it has come through. I'm excited about this one.
It has been clear for some time that Wayne Bridge was not a wise deployment of £10million, and that go get where we want to go we need someone better. It's not that Bridge is a limited player who is incapable of dazzle, but rather the opposite: he does have occasional moments of intelligence and imagination but for the most part he has a shockingly weak command of the basics. Heading, tackling and crossing with simple competence ought to come easier to a one-time England and Chelsea player.
And so he has been replaced with Kolarov, my knowledge of whom is fairly limited. The only times I've knowingly seen him play were Serbia's first two games of the World Cup, and I'd be lying if I said he made a deep impression upon me. He is very highly rated, though, and by most accounts he has been one of Lazio's best players in recent years. He's big, strong and and difficult to stop when he gets going. He also does a mean Michael Tarnat impression.
He fits perfectly with the 'Boateng plan' that has defined our transfers this summer. Relatively young (24), coming from a respectable but not elite foreign club, ambitious and eager to win things at City and become part of our new history. In this sense he is from the same category as Jérôme Boteng and David Silva. Readers will know how much I prefer this approach, for all sorts of reasons: novelty, exoticism, increased quality etc. In fact, the difference between Kolarov and Wayne Bridge demonstrates the differing transfer market approaches of Mark Hughes and the Marwood/Mancini combination now in charge. Hughes made a fetish of Premier League experience, which meant we bought in players no longer wanted by our EPL rivals, who were often over-rated and certainly overpaid. Bridge might not be the worst such player but he is a good example of the flaws of the strategy.
I'm not sure exactly what will happen to Bridge now. Mancini says he is happy for him to stay. I'm sure Bridge is. He proved at Chelsea that playing matches is not at the very top of his job satisfaction requirements. I'd probably rather he left: of course we've long crossed the Rubicon of wage obscenity but still paying a back up left-back £95,000 per week is a bit much. Can't club servant Javi Garrido do the same job for a quarter of the money?
Anyway - this will answer itself soon. Welcome 'Alexander'.