Mancini gets green light for £80m Ribery bid
ROBERTO MANCINI is to receive backing from Manchester City's owners to make an £80m bid this summer for Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery as he tries to mould a Premier League-winning team.
The Italian will confirm in a television interview this lunchtime that he intends to honour his three-and-a-half-year deal, allaying the fears of fans who believed that his appointment was only a six-month stopgap solution. A key factor in his commitment is the promise from Sheikh Mansour that he will be given carte blanche to pursue whatever transfer target he deems fit.
There will, however, be no last-minute City pyrotechnics as they stick fast to the conviction that there are no beneficial deals to be done in the January transfer window. The one outstanding piece of business to be completed is the poaching of winger Adam Johnson from Middlesbrough for a fee of up to £18m.
To ask Mancini if he has the freedom to make another of City's audacious big-money transfer moves is to receive one of his quizzical smiles. "Yes, of course," he said. "But not now."
Such a liberty, though, is not always so sacrosanct. Indeed, he contests a match this afternoon that vividly reflects both the blessing and the curse of the petrodollar. He needs only to glance across the Eastlands dugout at the squat, lugubrious figure of Portsmouth's Avram Grant to see a manager stripped of all autonomy and denied even the knowledge of which of his players are leaving.
The hierarchy at City, by contrast, has rarely seemed more settled -- because their ambitions have never been more limitless.
Stability is sought by Abu Dhabi from Mancini and he is slowly beginning to provide it, improving his English by the week and looking for a property in Manchester to call his home.
Suddenly, the fans' Blue Moon anthem has acquired a portentousness to replace its usual tragicomic pathos. Mancini can -- and, far more significantly, has the backing to -- shoot for the moon.
A key step in that process has been to assert his authority with an emphasis that belies his diffident demeanour. He has started by dispensing with the services of the mercurial Robinho, whom he made clear had no chance of starting for City regularly. The Brazilian, having been pictured last week carrying his laptop from the training ground, was back at Carrington on Friday morning to say goodbyes to his team-mates before leaving for Sao Paulo.
TOP 10 JANUARY SIGNINGS
LANDON DONOVAN (Los Angeles Galaxy to Everton, loan): Everton took advantage of the MLS close season to sign the US international on a three-month loan deal and the experienced forward has already made a difference.
MAXI RODRIGUEZ (Atletico Madrid to Liverpool, free): The Argentina midfielder adds some much-needed creativity and the fact he was picked up for free means there is little risk for the cash-strapped club.
SOL CAMPBELL (unattached to Arsenal, free): The centre-back provides experienced back-up for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger having returned to the club three-and-a-half years after leaving.
GARY CALDWELL (Celtic to Wigan, £1m): The Hoops captain was out of contract in the summer and Latics boss Roberto Martinez moved quickly to bring in the centre-back, who has good leadership and organisational qualities.
EIDUR GUDJOHNSEN (Monaco to Tottenham, loan): The Iceland forward returns to the Premier League after previous spells with Bolton and Chelsea but with the added experience of a spell at Barcelona.
MATTHEW KILGALLON (Sheffield United to Sunderland, £2m): The highly rated defender, who has some previous top-flight experience with Leeds and Sheffield United, will add more depth to manager Steve Bruce's squad.
AMR ZAKI (Zamalek to Hull, loan): The Egypt international proved last season he could score goals in the Premier League in an impressive start to the campaign with Wigan before a drastic loss of form and disciplinary problems ruined his loan spell.
MICHEL (Sporting Gijon to Birmingham, £3m): Gijon's player of the year last season made 138 appearances in La Liga before his transfer and should bring some attacking invention to Alex McLeish's side.
PATRICK VIEIRA (Inter Milan to Manchester City, undisclosed): The former Arsenal central midfielder has to convince critics he still has the legs for the fast-paced Premier League but he should provide a steadying influence when he gets fit.
PHILIPPE SENDEROS (Arsenal to Everton, loan): Having spent last season on loan at AC Milan the Swiss has been rescued from the Gunners' reserves and has plenty to prove before he becomes a free agent in the summer.