While our experience with high-profile Brazilian signings here at Manchester City has been at best a mixed bag, we have had better luck with the Argentines Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta. Given that foreign players can find it hard to adapt to Premiership football and life in England, it is tempting to look at other Argentines as transfer targets with Tevez and Zabaleta available to help them settle. Additionally, there would be the benefit of players playing together both in our squad and during the international breaks for the Argentina national team, as currently happens with our England internationals (assuming Argentina fires Maradona after an early World Cup exit and brings in a competent coach).
According to Marca, we are currently trying to sign the Argentine defensive midfielder Fernando Gago from Real Madrid. Gago, 23, wants out as he has lost regular playing time under new manager Manuel Pelligrini, who has preferred Xabi Alonso, Lass Diarra, and Esteban Granero at center/defensive midfield. Real also has Mahamadou Diarra at defensive mid, so Gago`s lack of playing time is not necessarily an indictment of his abilities. However, it remains unclear where he would fit in the Manchester City setup. We already have Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong, and Vincent Kompany to play where Gago would, and we just brought in Patrick Vieira. Gago is a good player and impressed at times for Real, but I would not want his addition to be at the expense of playing time for de Jong. Nevertheless Mancini was able to get the best out of defensive-minded midfielders Esteban Cambiasso and Vieira when at Inter, so maybe we should defer to his judgement on Gago.
While I do not particularly want to sign him, an argument for signing Gago is that with three in the squad we might have a better chance long-term at signing one of two additional Argentines, Diego Perotti and Ángel Di María, who both play on the wings. I say long-term, because we do not need them right now, they are young, and they will not be easy transfers. Perotti would be the easier signing of the two due to Sevilla`s propensity to sell, while Di María has a 40 million euro release clause. I have watched quite a bit of Perotti with Sevilla, and he has become in less than a full season their first choice left-winger and instrumental in many of their best moments this year. If you like Tevez`s style – pace, constant energy, classy technique – you will like Perotti.
Di María will cost quite a bit more than Perotti, but his price tag is only going to go up. He plays for Benfica, but would be open to coming to England. He is in the midst of a stunning season and his penchant for the spectacular has provided ample material for highlight reels. Many of our big money bids have been for either impossible targets (Kaka, Buffon) or players past their prime (Ronaldinho). If we secured Di Maria, who will undoubtedly want to leave Benfica soon, we would have the player who could define the sport for the next generation. The video below shows a snippet of his ability.
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