Monday, September 8, 2008

Man City after Essien and Gerrard?

I've always believed Sunday tabloids exist more for entertainment than news reporting, but today's News of the World really does take the biscuit. In black and white, on their back page, is an article claiming Manchester City boss Mark Hughes has "targeted an incredible double swoop for Steven Gerrard and Michael Essien in January".

Oh, and their billionaire owners are "set to splash the cash to make the world's first £500,000-a-week player". Now, I'm not one to make predictions (okay, that's not true, as I clearly predict top-flight football is terminally ill), but I can't see either transfer happening for so many reasons.

The first is that Chelsea are unlikely to do any business with Man City. Even though Roman Abramovich doesn't have the money of City's billionaire Arabs, he has enough to keep players at Stamford Bridge if he so desires. Robinho leaving Real Madrid for Man City - instead of Chelsea - also ruffled a lot of feathers.

Secondly, there is a good chance Liverpool will be taken over sooner than later. If they are taken over by Dubai International Capital (DIC), there are also unlikely to do any business with Manchester City. Even if a takeover doesn't occur, it's hard to imagine Gerrard leaving Liverpool. Money can buy you a lot of things but, with some players at least, there are limits.

Tabloids, like a good piece of cod, need their "sources" and the News of the World article includes one. A "City source" said: "Mark knows money is no object but he also wants to bring in the kind of players who will fit in with his plans, not just spend massive money for the sake of it. Gerrard and Essien in the same midfield would be incredible. They would fit together perfectly and wouldn't have to take time adapting to the English game in the same way as any big foreign name."

Perhaps the scariest thing about this is that, even though it's hard to imagine either player moving to Man City, everybody is already assuming the January transfer window will see an obscene amount of money being thrown around at any player with a half-recognisable name. And the law of averages suggests that if enough offers are made, enough players will eventually sign.