Tuesday Team Talk: All quiet on the transfer front for City and United

By Jamie Dickenson

Halfway through one of the quietest January transfer windows in recent memory and the only addition for either Manchester club has been the retirement U-turn of United’s Paul Scholes.

Neither side looked likely to splash the cash with the market currently saturated with inflated prices for substandard players and the European economic situation growing increasingly unstable.

However, with both Manchester United and Manchester City out of the UEFA Champions League and going head to head with one another in the Premier League, one would be forgiven for questioning why neither manager has yet to break out the cheque book.

Roberto Mancini continually speaks in the press about how his side are thoroughly depleted, missing key men through injury, suspension and those away at the African Cup of Nations.

Most recently Mancini stated that only today’s star-studded Barcelona outfit could deal with the ravaging his playing squad has suffered in recent weeks. Cry me a river Roberto, when your club spends nearly £250million in less than three years, you should be able to cope with a couple of missing players.

Over in the red half of Manchester, Sir Alex Ferguson has been outspokenly certain that his side will not be reinforced substantially during this month.

Fergie has chosen to sell midfielder Darren Gibson to Everton for £2million and loan Federico Macheda to QPR without hinting at any possible arrivals, aside from the aforementioned Scholes.

Even so, rumours continue to persist that both clubs will have new faces to welcome come February, as it may well be a late flurry of activity kicks off the January transfer merry-go-round.

United are reportedly interested in European play-makers Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Christian Erikson, Xherdan Shaqiri and Nicolas Gaitan, whilst still hold a flame for Wesley Sneijder.

With Scholes returning to the Red Devils after calling time on his career last summer, and young Tom Cleverly shortly to come back from injury, a big money move for one of these outstanding continental talents may be unrealistic though.

City are also keen on Sneijder, as well as keeping tabs on the impressive Eden Hazard, Daniele De Rossi and Neymar. But again, such high-profile transfers would be quite a shock considering the minimal business done during the window so far. Gary Cahill’s £7million move from Bolton to Chelsea is the window’s biggest deal as of yet.

The City of Manchester Stadium looks set to introduce just one new addition to the team in the coming days, as the transfer of 16-year-old Jose Angel Pozo from Real Madrid for a cool £3.5million is days away from completion. It is reported he will sign a five year deal at the club when he reaches his 16th birthday in March.

One player set to walk through the exit door at Eastlands is Carlos Tevez. £20.7million has been offered by Italian giants Inter Milan and City would be crazy to turn down such a fee for the want-away attacker whose mentality has proved poisonous in the Citizens camp.

United may soon to be without their enigmatic striker Dimitar Berbatov, as clubs throughout Europe gaze at his uncomfortable circumstances at United with a heightened sense of opportunity.

Despite regularly scoring goals when in the team, it seems Fergie simply doesn’t trust the former Tottenham forward enough to give him a prolonged run on the pitch. A move to affluent Parisians PSG would be a endearing match.

Mario Balotelli on the other hand, is a goalscorer in Manchester that looks increasingly at home in the city. Fast becoming a cult hero with Citizens fans, ‘Super Mario’ was photographed at a house-party over the weekend. Likened to Paul Gascoigne by MM columnist Andy Gray, Balotelli’s eccentricity is far from fading as he settles in England.

Whilst City enjoy the fruits of a misunderstood but multi-talented young man, Manchester United fans are reaping the benefits of a prodigious striker that has developed in their own academy.

Footage of a 13-year-old Danny Welbeck receiving personal finishing lessons from former star Ruud Van Nistelrooy in the 2003 DVD ‘Playing Like Champions’, offers an insight into the native Mancunian’s rapid rise to prominence.

During a coaching session the Dutchman fascinatingly selects the teenage Welbeck from a group of budding startlets for a one-on-one shooting drill, and after a few select words of advice from the Malaga hitman, United’s current striker improves on his first attempt to turn Van Nistelrooy and fire home.

It seems with United forwards it takes one to know one, and Van Nistelrooy may have a potential career in coaching when he finally hangs up his boots.

Returning to pressing domestic matters and this evening City re-opened their three point advantage over United with a hard-fought 1-0 away victory at Wigan.

United triumphed on Saturday against Bolton at home, but face more testing opposition this Sunday as they travel to the Emirates to play fifth placed Arsenal in the late afternoon kick off.

Earlier in the day City lock horns with Tottenham, as the current highest placed North London side have the chance to show the league the are genuine challengers for the title.

In a month where transfer gossip usually dominates the world of football, it is out of character for the focus to be firmly away from signings and speculation. Super Sunday it is set to be this weekend, and the day may see the Premier League trophy give its strongest hint yet about its destination come May.

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