Surely it can’t be true, but if you read this morning’s newspaper headlines you’d be forgiven for thinking we were about to do deals for each of the left-sided central defenders.
To add to the confusion, the stories come from three of the more reliable City writers. Ian Ladyman has an EXCLUSIVE in the Mail that we’re set to sign Lescott:
Sportsmail believes the transfer will be completed in the next 36 hours.
After privately declaring the move all but dead over the weekend, it is understood
City were given encouragement on Monday afternoon and are now hopeful of having the player in their line-up to face Blackburn.
David Hytner in The Guardian follows Daniel Taylor in believing a deal for Upson is on the cards:
Manchester City will encounter little resistance from West Ham United if they follow up their interest in Matthew Upson with a bid of around Ã‚Â£15m.
Finally Ian Herbert, who recently followed City in South Africa, writes in The Independent:
Manchester City are ready to move to bring their former captain Sylvain Distin back to the club, as West Ham’s demands for Matthew Upson’s services are proving higher than the Premier League’s big spenders are willing to pay.
Just for good measure The Express has Joleon Lescott “considering handing in a written transfer request”.
If the Lescott deal really is back on, then that would clearly be Hughes’ preferred signing. However until we hear something from Everton to that effect then I’ll have my doubts.
Thirty year old Matthew Upson appears next in line, though Cook is only willing to pay Ã‚Â£10m and West Ham are looking for Ã‚Â£15m. Talk of City turning their attention to Distin could just be an attempt to lower West Ham’s asking price.
Personally I’d rather have Distin than Upson. He’s taller, quicker and better able to cover for an attacking full-back, which we have in Bridge. We might have to move quick for Distin as several other teams are also interested in the Frenchman.
There’s a lot of speculation that the signing of a new tall centre-half will mean the departure of Richard Dunne, which would certainly be ironic if we bring in Distin. For me our old central defensive ‘twin towers’ could be the best option for taking on the aerial assault at Blackburn. I’d hold 5′ 11″ Kolo Toure back for this one.
By all accounts Joleon Lescott received a great reception from Everton fans last night in their friendly against Malaga. Lescott played the full 90 minutes and heard his name being sung at the end.
David Moyes added:
“The crowd gave Joleon Lescott a good reaction because they understand that what we are doing is right.
“We’ve been very consistent on this and said Joleon would not be sold. I cannot comment any further than that.”
There’s been speculation that City may make a final bid in the region of Ã‚Â£22, but given the resolute nature of everyone at Everton there seems little chance of it being accepted. This is despite Lescott having stated he would like to talk to City. Maybe a written transfer request, which would waive his right to any loyalty payments, might see a change in Everton’s stance but I doubt it, and Lescott is clearly reluctant to go this far. The support of the fans last night will surely have made this even less likely.
So where does that leave City? It was clear on Wednesday night that we need a commanding left-footed central defender and any talk to the contrary is bordering on the deluded.
Sebastien Bassong, who last week was said to be top of our alternatives to Lescott, has joined Spurs.
Matthew Upson is again being mentioned this morning, though his lack of pace makes him as likely to fit into Hughes system about as well as Richard Dunne currently does. The dire financial position of West Ham’s owners may make them more likely to sell than Everton.
Sylvain Distin is being courted by Sunderland, Villa and possibly Liverpool, yet Portsmouth are now saying they won’t be selling. Distin used to have decent pace and crucially he was excellent at moving across to cover left back when they were caught upfield. This is a feature of his game that we’ve sorely missed since his departure, especially with the attacking instincts of Wayne Bridge. If we want him we should move fast.
Brede Hangeland is a name being bandied around by a lot of supporters, but there doesn’t appear to be anything coming from the club. His lack of pace puts him in the same category as Upson for me.
Chelsea won’t be selling Alex, so that’s that.
There seems to be little consideration of players plying their trade overseas in this transfer window. Hughes clearly wants players with Premiership experience who can hit the ground running, so there seems little chance of anyone coming from abroad.
At the moment there’s no outstanding alternative to Lescott, and the question has to be asked as to whether we’ve once again spent to long chasing a player who won’t be coming.
According to several reports Joleon Lescott yesterday asked to be allowed to speak to City in a meeting with David Moyes. Whether this is going to be enough to enable City to complete the signing of our first choice target for the left-sided centre-back position remains to be seen.
Moyes, as we’ve come to expect, is still against the idea and Bill Kenwright is unlikely to go against the wishes of his manager or the clubs supporters. It looks like Lescott will now have to go to the next stage submit a written transfer request, and City may well follow this up with a fresh bid.
There is the distinct impression that Moyes and Kenwright’s will turn down Lescott’s transfer request and Everton are continuing to make it known they don’t need the money. Their likely signing of Philippe Senderos is said to be cover for the injured Jagielka.
The whole thing has stalemate written all over it, and I can’t see City wanting the situation to drag on much longer with the knowledge that second choices Bassong and Distin are being chased by Tottenham and Villa respectively. The canny Moyes may well be banking on City soon running out of patience.
The only thing likely to change this would be for Moyes to decide he doesn’t want an unhappy player on his hands, otherwise I can see City making a move for Bassong before the end of the week.