NIGEL DE JONG is the definitive holding midfielder.
Combative, energetic, an advocate of the five-yard pass, and never afraid to put the boot in (although, admittedly he has gone over the top on occasion), the Dutchman would be an asset to any of Europe’s top sides.
However, Roberto Mancini has continually persisted with Gareth Barry ahead of the former Hamburg and Ajax man this season, and the 27-year-old could be up for grabs during the summer.
De Jong has appeared in less than half of City’s Premier League matches during this campaign and was again left out against Wigan on Monday despite Yaya Toure being away and there will no doubt be a huge amount of interest in the player if he does decide to move to pastures new.
Chelsea and Manchester United both have contractual problems of their own as two players who could potentially make up England’s forward line in the future are believed to be unhappy with the money on the table.
Daniel Sturridge is said to want an increase on the €95,000 he receives as a weekly payment after discussions with the club and is also ‘disillusioned’ at being played out wide by manager Andre Villa-Boas.
Over at Old Trafford, Danny Welbeck has reportedly had a falling out with the club over the size of the pay rise he deserves. The 21-year-old has chipped in with eight goals in 23 appearances since returning from a loan spell with Sunderland.
And while United feel that contribution warrants an increase of €30,000 in his wages, his representatives are angling for an additional €20,000.
Now for some real transfer news. Shanghai Shenhua are optimistic of capturing Didier Drogba and likened their pursuit to ‘flirting with a girl’.
The striker, who is away on international duty with the Ivory Coast, saw his former team-mate Nicolas Anelka sign a two-year deal with the club last month and the 33-year-old might be willing to accept the offer of €240,000-a-week.
Defender Cesar Azpilicueta plays for Drogba’s old team Marseille and the Spaniard has opened the door for Chelsea to make a bid. The full-back has been quoted as saying that he would be willing to think about a move to England if the invitation arrived and the London club are weighing up going for him in this transfer window.
Fulham are keen on Catania’s Argentinian forward Maxi Lopez but have been told that they will have to match Fiorentina’s offer of nearly €8m if they are to have any hope of obtaining the former Barcelona player’s services.
Down the road, Mark Hughes appears to have had some success as Manchester City have agreed a fee with QPR to let Nedum Onuoha leave. The defender made a rare appearance for City against Wigan earlier in the week but a switch is now imminent.
Finally, Brighton have clinched the signing of Columbian keeper David Gonzalez. The 29-year-old was on the books at Manchester City but spent the first half of the season on loan at Aberdeen.
Like Rene Higuita, he played for his hometown club Independiente Medellin early in his career. And yes, we only brought up that fact so we could mention this.