Gotze. Eden better than Hazard?

by Daisy Cutter

Yesterday there was confirmation of sorts that the Belgian superstar-in-waiting Eden Hazard had plumped for the Bridge.

Yet at one stage Manchester City appeared to be home and dry with the signing of the sensationally gifted youngster. Thirty-two million. In the bag. That was until Didier Drogba slotted away the deciding pen in the Allianz Arena and made Chelsea serious contenders in one of the most fiercely fought transfer battles in recent years.

Worse yet for the northern blues the firm and admirable stance they took with the player during negotiations – outright dismissing his agent’s demand for four million and baulking at the £200,000 wages – will have presumably only benefitted their London rivals.

Like jilted lovers City must now take stock and remind themselves that there are plenty more fish in the sea. And cast out their lines they must because with Adam Johnson an erratic source of width their reliance on Nasri and Silva for creativity means a player in the Hazard mould – pace, flair, and the ability to produce the unexpected – is a necessity prior to a second assault on Europe.

Mario Gotze – Dortmund have no intention of selling their prized asset and with a second consecutive Bundesliga in the bag they’re in a strong position to treat any approach with Germanic disdain. Furthermore the exciting 19 year old talent ( appears to have no inclination to leave and indeed surprised those who expected a big-money move this summer by signing a contract extension in March that ties him to the club until 2016. After committing his future to Die Borussen he said “Everyone knows how comfortable I feel in Dortmund. The club are far from finished with their recent resurgence. And I want to be part of this development”. Hardly the words of a lad agitating for a move.

However, with the recruitment of Marco Reus from Monchengladbach the title winners do now possess a player in a similar vein to Gotze and may be more inclined to consider a huge offer.

City also have a potentially useful bargaining chip in the shape of Edin Dzeko particularly if Lewandowski moves on as anticipated leaving Dortmund in need of a top class finisher.

Angel Di Maria – If you believed all the rumours you’d think that the slightly-built Argentine was eternally at war with Mourinho and always just a window away from a Bernabau exit. The facts however contradict this. The Special One gave his winger 23 starts last term in La Liga alone and clearly values a surprising work and team ethic from someone whose game is largely based on flair. According to various reports he has personally intervened in a long-standing dispute between club and player over a pay rise and instructed his board to resolve it at any cost. With Real in the process of becoming top dogs in Spain once again what Mourinho wants Mourinho gets and – to my mind at least – it is extremely doubtful that we’ll see El Angelito displaying his tricks and pinpoint deliveries anywhere but the Bernabau next season.

Should City make a move though a fee in excess of £35m is a given as too will be the retaining of Edin Dzeko in their ranks to capitalise on the aerial assists.

Gareth Bale – A long-mooted switch that’s had all kinds of silly figures attached to it there is no question that should City receive the slightest encouragement they would doggedly pursue the possibility of landing Bale. However the old adage about domestic talent costing more can be applied ten-fold here especially with the prospect of Redknapp ramping up the figures during his daily Sky briefings. For a realistic fee to be even remotely feasible it may require the player himself to engineer proceedings. The Welshman though, to his enormous credit, has none of the self-promoting arrogance of Eden Hazard and is unlikely to publicly rock the boat.

Younes Belhanda – Reports vary enormously on the Montpellier schemer who is still flying high from his club’s shock Ligue 1 triumph over moneybags PSG. Some suggest he is a bargain Hazard, a late-blooming Pires in the making capable of great things. Others insist he is a glorified Taraabt, over-hyped due to his side’s fantastic campaign.

Certainly his playing style is an attraction for City with his comfort on either flank and the ability to drift into dangerous areas and produce the fantastical.

Should a firm bid be made however reports in the region of ten million appear way short with Montpellier now in a position to insist on double-or-nothing that figure.

Belhanda. A bargain gem or a glorified Taraabt?

Lucas Moura – The latest Brazilian superstar from a nation who seem to knock them out with annoying ease. Not only would a move for the Sao Paulo teenager be doomed to failure but it would also amount to an expensive tit-for-tat with Chelsea for missing out on Hazard.

The player’s influential agent, Wagner Ribeiro – who also represents Neymar and was instrumental in Robinho’s headline-grabbing switch to Eastlands – has insisted that his twinkle-toed prodigy is going nowhere until after the World Cup in 2014 and it seems even then Chelsea have first dibs on securing his explosive talent.

As a pertinent aside City appear to have a once-bitten-twice-shy approach to signing Brazilian players and much prefer to concentrate their attentions on neighbouring Argentina. Moura is undoubtedly a sublime prospect but is also a high-risk gamble – would City be prepared to take such a FFP-ruining punt?

Iker Muniain – To the best of our knowledge the Athletic Bilbao teen has not been linked to City in any quarters but certainly has the qualities they are seeking. Dubbed the ‘Spanish Messi’ his lightning footwork and impressive footballing intelligence makes him an attractive proposition for any side who value possession-led intricate build-up play whilst his searing pace makes him a threat on the counter.

Should Mancini be looking towards Bilbao this summer however his steely gaze will solely be reserved for Javi Martinez.

Ezequiel Lavezzi – The break up of the exhilarating Napoli front three will be a personal sadness for many who enjoyed their explosive devastation of the best defences around last season but alas it seems inevitable. The smart money at present is on Cavani heading to the Etihad with the Argentine Lavezzi moving to PSG. The loss of Hazard however may well change matters. The 27 year old is a snorting raging bull of a player – a Tevez with pace – who would slot seamlessly into City’s set-up and instantly provide direct pace and energy into wide areas. With a reputed £26m buy-out and a public declaration of wishing to leave Naples don’t rule out the possibility of an all-Argentine attack at City next term. The sole concern would be the player’s lack of goals.

Lucas Ocampos –  The step-over king of River Plate, or should that be step-over prince as Ocampus doesn’t even turn 18 until July. Has reportedly been on City’s radar for several months but surely would be one for the near future rather than the present even if a £15m move does occur. With comparisons to Ronaldo – based upon not only his blistering talent but an imposing physique for one so young – perhaps this is a wise strategy for a club no doubt brooding over missing out on their number one summer target: if you’re spurned by one amazing prospect simply buy the next one in the making.