Aston Villa have joined Celtic and Leicester in the race for Shay Given as he prepares to head the biggest clear-out in Manchester City’s history.
Given is one of at least TEN Blues players set to exit the club as Roberto Mancini bids to shape a squad for next season’s Champions League push.
Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Wayne Bridge, Patrick Vieira, Jo, Roque Santa Cruz, Nedum Onuoha and Felipe Caicedo are all expected to leave over the summer.
It all adds up to more than £110m worth of talent going out in a bid to free up funds for new signings and ensure the Blues meet UEFA’s new financial fair play rules. And there could be even more players on the way out, with Carlos Tevez still to make a decision on his future and young winger Vladimir Weiss being lined up for a loan move to Spanish side Espanyol.
Mancini flew to Abu Dhabi last week with chief executive Garry Cook and football administrator Brian Marwood to discuss transfer plans with owner Sheikh Mansour and chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak.
Khaldoon’s recent statement that City were only looking to make one or two big signings this summer appeared to be at odds with the manager’s wish to bring in more players.
But it is understood there was actually no huge difference of opinion between Mancini and the club hierarchy, with all parties aware of the need to ship out fringe players to create space for new arrivals.
Mancini is keen to bring in Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez and Bolton centre-back Gary Cahill as he looks to strengthen his squad.
But the emphasis will be on ensuring a leaner, meaner first-team group for next term – as Mancini recently made clear when he spoke of the need for a squad of “23, 24 good players” to see the club through the twin demands of domestic and Champions League football.
Most of the squad departures are being driven by the club’s need to reduce their spending and drastically reduce losses – they reported a £121m loss in 2009/10 – in order to meet UEFA rules for clubs in European competition. Given’s exit, though, is slightly different, as it is being driven by his desire for regular first-team football.
Mancini wants the keeper to stay, but understands his frustration at not playing.
Given has already spoken publicly of his interest in returning to Celtic, where he started his career as a teenager, while Villa could also be on the hunt for a new keeper with Brad Friedel out of contract and set to join Tottenham.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who has also been linked with Given, has been looking for a more reliable No 1 after seeing the erratic Brazilian Heurelho Gomes make a series of high-profile errors.
Championship side Leicester are something of an outside bet for Given’s services, but former Blues boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has indicated an interest in the keeper as he attempts to build a promotion challenge with backing from his club’s Thai owners.
Of the other players set to go, Adebayor has attracted interest from Tottenham and Bellamy is considering a return to home-city Cardiff, where he spent last season on loan.
Wright-Phillips has been linked with Bolton and Fulham, while Onuoha – who has just completed a season’s loan at Sunderland – could also head for the Reebok as part of any deal for Cahill.
Striker Caicedo is set to stay in Spain, where he has been a huge hit on loan at Levante, with Atletico Madrid and Villarreal ready to sign him permanently.