Although we are only midway through the off-season, the Premier League’s big guns are definitely feeling the pressure. While not quite asset-stripping, between them they may have lost the services of Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo, John Terry, Xabi Alonso and Emanuel Adebayor within the next two weeks – with very little quality going the other way thus far.
The wealth of Manchester City is causing severe unrest in the top four and while Carlos Tevez clearly had a bee in his bonnet about life at Manchester United, the belief that Chelsea and Arsenal would even contemplate selling two of their top players to Premier League rivals would have been unthought of even twelve months ago. Perhaps it highlights the financial reality of the business in 2009 that both London clubs think pocketing somewhere in the region of £75m between them for their stars is worth the gamble.
With Spain luring Ronaldo, trying to lure Alonso and rumoured to be fairly interested in capturing Javier Mascherano and Cesc Fabregas, the ‘Big Four’ quadopoly on the Premier League and Champions League may be loosening.
Usually the summer revolves around the bigger clubs capturing star players from the clubs below them such as Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane, Wayne Rooney, Yossi Benayoun, Steve Sidwell, Scott Parker and Mikael Silvestre. It’s certainly interesting to see the shoe on the other foot (leaving aside the fact it won’t fit so well).
But while Manchester City look to be the team to watch, a cautionary note should be ‘penned’. I’m no fan of The Citizens (the nickname of Manchester City and I now realise it would have been far quicker to just write Manchester City the second time and not try to use some clever euphemism) and am only marginally impressed by the signings of Santa Cruz, Tevez and Barry – three good but hardly world class players. None of the three players were that difficult to recruit given all three of them were unhappy at their clubs (Tevez was technically a free agent). The real success story for them will be bringing in Terry and, to a lesser extent, Adebayor. If they add those two to their ranks I think we may actually see a more convincing race for the top four next season.