Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Man City Roller Coaster: Kaka Says No; De Jong, Bellamy Say Yes; Robinho Says...

Sky Sports and the Premier League must truly love the transfer window and Manchester City. In an era where every match is hyped out of all proportion and the back pages are splashed with football stories every day, Sky and the EPL must be thanking their lucky stars for UEFA's idea of the Transfer Window, and now for Manchester City.

Not a moment goes past where either BBC or Sky are talking about the latest stories. Creating soap opera's on top of soap opera's in an attempt is garner more attention upon the EPL.

When Sheik Monsour bought Manchester City, they must have wet themselves. And rightfully so...

The Abu Dhabi group only came in on the last day of the summer transfer window and went to work straight away by signing Robinho from Real Madrid for £32m. And since then, speculation on all things Man City has been rife.

Will Mark Hughes stay on as manager despite their poor run? Who will they buy? Who will they sell? What will they do next? What do they think of Celebrity Big Brother?

When the January transfer window opened all eyes focused on Manchester, with good reason. The current economic downturn has had catastrophic effects on the EPL.

Mike Dean has seen Newcastle devalue by over £150m since he put them up for sale, and he has lost almost £1bn from his personal fortune. Chelsea are no longer a buying club as Roman Abrahmovich enforces strict cost cutting measures as his personal fortune has diminished by some £10bn.

West Ham have to be sold before March. And most importantly of all, the English pound has devalued by almost 40p against the Euro, making an exchange rate of 1:1 rather than 1:1.4.

So in effect EPL teams are not going to spend much. Manchester United continued their trend of buying players for next season when they snapped up a couple of Serbians.

Liverpool won't bring in anyone, and Arsenal don't have the funds for the complete rebuilding they need so Wenger will scaffold them out until the summer with only one signing, possibly.

But City are no longer playing the same game as everyone else.

And they know this, too. So as soon as the transfer window opened, City launched an audacious bid for Kaka. The £100m bid has been well documented.

For City, it signalled their intent of bringing the very best to the Eastlands. And Kaka is just that, a model professional with amazing pedigree.

For Milan, it was a chance to wipe their debts and a chance to return to the top of Serie A as money would no longer be an obstacle for a club with such a fantastic scouting system.

For Kaka, it was a step down. City are not a club of the stature that he would want to move to. Eventually they will be, but for the moment Kaka wants to be challenging for trophies not relegation.

For Mark Hughes, it signalled that he does not pull all the strings, and that his time at City looks to be limited. Hughes is a football man. He knows how to build a team. Start with the spine and work from there.

Kaka is a player that is put into the finished article, not a player you start with.

When Kaka turned the deal down last night Mark Hughes would have been a relieved man. And will now hope that players that he has pointed out will be brought to the club.

And that looks like happening as Craig Bellamy boards a flight in Heathrow to fly to Manchester City's training ground in Tenerife. West Ham accepted a bid of around £15m for Bellamy, and after agreeing terms he made his way to join his latest team.

Bellamy will be a good signing for City in their current predicament. He is an intelligent player who never gives up, and he will bring an intensity to the City dressing room that it is currently lacking.

Looking to the future though, he is not of the required calibre to challenge for trophies and as City progress he will be moved on.

Nigel De Jong currently anchors Hamburgs midfield. And after they also accepted a £15m bid, the player and City's representatives began negotiations. His demands are not expected to be a problem...

De Jong is exactly what City need. A skillful defensive type midfielder who covers a lot of ground. He has all the attributes that a player in his position needs and under a good manager he could become one of the best players in Europe.

And while Kaka gives interviews stating his reasons for staying in Milan, and Peter Cook makes jibes at Milan for only accepting the bid because of money, and Craig Bellamy flies to Tenerife, and Nigel De Jong begins his negotiations, Robinho has left the training ground in Tenerife.

Speculation about Robinho's departure has been fueled by Kaka's refusal to join City. As newspapers came up with reasons for his mysterious departure and City officials scrambled for excuses, Robinho eventually released a statement.

BBC sport tracked the diminutive striker down in Brazil! And after asking Robinho why he was not in Tenerife, he clarified the situation.

"I had made Manchester City aware that I needed to return to Brazil because of a family matter," Robinho said.

"I will return to the club and hope to sort this out as soon as possible."

His exit comes a day after his friend and countryman Kaka rejected a move to Eastlands for a world-record fee of about £100m.

Robinho added: "I feel it is important to underline that I did not return to Brazil because of the Kaka deal.

"He is one of my good friends and it would have been great to see him at Manchester City - but it had nothing to do with his decision to stay in Milan.

"I am committed to helping Manchester City become the force the owners assured me they will become."

Early on Tuesday morning Executive chairman Garry Cook had said: "I do know Robinho is not at the training centre in Tenerife. If he has left the training ground it is a breach of club discipline. I am waiting for a full debrief."

Chris Nathaniel, a personal adviser to Robinho, added: "It is unfortunate that the reasons for Robinho's decision to fly to Brazil have been cast in such a negative light.

"I have no doubts that this will all be cleared up when Robinho returns to the UK. The player is impressed by the owner's visions for the club and loves the passion of the City fans."

When City initially launched the bid for Kaka, it was believed that it was on the recommendation of Robinho, who had wanted to see his friend join him in Manchester.

Even where deals are not with City their influence is there. Wigan had accepted a bid from Spurs for Wilson Palacious. But then City entered the battle for the Honduras internationals signature.

But Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp came to a gentleman's agreement with each other and as Spurs pulled out of the Bellamy deal, City pulled out of the move for Palacious.

The influential midfielder has had a massive impact on the EPL in his 41 games for Wigan, and is now regarded as one of the best players in central midfield in the league. Wigan come out of the deal very well, after signing the player for £1m in 2007 after a recommendation from Arsene Wenger, Steve Bruce has sold him for £14m to Tottenham Hotspur.

Money. Makes the world go 'round.

twitter / WillieGannon