In finally securing the player he desperately wanted, Mark Hughes says Manchester City are now in great shape to compete with the top clubs of the Premier League. But Joleon Lescott's arrival from Everton may not be the last before the transfer window closes as the Eastlands manager says City will always be in the market if the best players become available.
What he did warn, though, is that there is unlikely to be a repeat of the spectacular spending spree witnessed in the past 12 months. Since the takeover by Sheikh Mansour, they have splashed out £202.5 million (Dh1.204bn) on players such as Robinho, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure. Lescott's £24m move is expected to be the final piece in the jigsaw for now, but Hughes, who has also brought in Sylvinho on a free, said: "You never know. I have said before that sometimes when you get to the end of the transfer window certain opportunities present themselves that you need to move on.
"I had a board meeting back in December and set out what we needed in terms of players and it was a process that should have been done over a three-to-five year period, but we decided we would try to do it in two windows and see how far we could get. "Our ability to bring in players should be commended and not criticised as much as it is. But in the future we won't be going into the market to this extent again.
"We are investing highly in our academy and our recruitment and we will looking to acquire players who we feel can add value and become great players rather than going out to the market and paying the premium. "We will be in the market if top players become available, but it won't be the level that we have seen in the past two windows." Had City signed John Terry, their outlay would have been even higher. The England captain decided to stay at Chelsea, but Hughes says Lescott can be as good, if not better.
"Why not?" he added. "That's the challenge for Joleon and I don't think it is something that will faze him and it won't be something he won't aspire to do. "There are good centre-halves out there to be judged against and he will want to overcome them I'm sure. He's a really driven man and wants to be the best he can be. "I think there's more to come from him. He has a huge stage here and there are huge demands, but I think he will thrive on that."
Lescott, 27, agrees and is keen to draw a line under the past few weeks where his attitude has been questioned by the Everton manager David Moyes. Lescott refutes that and is eager to surpass Terry and Rio Ferdinand. "They are two of the best, if not the best, in the world and have had great success," he said. "I have to look to emulate them if I want to be part of that and that's something I look to do.
"It's a great compliment from Mark and hopefully I can prove him right." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org