ABU DHABI // Such is their frantic activity in the transfer market that for every major signing Manchester City make, one escapes their grasp. The ball began rolling with the British transfer record purchase of Robinho and took a detour with Kaka. It was back on track with Roque Santa Cruz but then knocked off course by Samuel Eto'o. Carlos Tevez's arrival is positive and the question now is whether an audacious bid for the England and Chelsea captain John Terry can be pulled off.
Manager Mark Hughes yesterday confirmed Chelsea have turned down the proposal, but chief executive Garry Cook hinted the matter was not totally dead, while also stating a bid had been accepted for the Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor and that Everton defender Joleon Lescott was a player Hughes hugely admired. Hughes, the manager pressured with investing Sheikh Mansour's money, said that, despite a few set-backs, he is pleased with his club's progress.
"We're looking to strengthen areas which we feel need a little bit more help," said the former Manchester United and Barcelona striker. "We're pleased with what we've been able to do in terms of the attacking players but we look at every part of the team and we feel we can add quality if those players become available." With Santa Cruz, Tevez and Gareth Barry already on board, the remaining "part" to be addressed is City's undeniably leaky defence. Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon insisted yesterday: "We're not going to sell John. He is a talisman, the heart of Chelsea."
Despite the Londoners' hands-off stance, the Eastlands club know as long as they respect their Premier League rivals and the England captain's contract, their pursuit is no crime. "All we've done is make it quite clear that we would love John Terry to come and lead our football club. Unfortunately, that hasn't been accepted," said Cook. Hughes knows a successful bid for Terry would further galvanise a City side buoyed by the eye-catching capture of Tevez.
However, with the opening games of the Premier League just over a month away, he insists City won't wait forever. "Whenever you go in to the market and make bids, there is always a degree of uncertainty because you're never sure if they are going to be concluded to your benefit. It's a difficult process. "What we try to do is make sure our strategy is clear. We don't have a scattergun approach, every player we approach has been thought through.
"Our 'A' targets have been thought out and if we can't get them then we go for another 'A' target." Rumours persist that Hughes's second centre-half choice is Lescott. While City's manager refused to discuss a player he called "another team's", Cook was slightly more forthcoming. "Mark loves the player...he is a great player and Mark has always talked about investing in young, international talent," he said.
Everton, however, will be reluctant to sell their defensive linchpin to a rival - a move that could realistically ruin their own aspirations of progress. Another drawn-out negotiation saga looms. Through it all, Hughes's enviable transfer budget will not make him forget his basic football principles, or those of his owners. "People can see we are trying to do our business in the correct manner and the polite way; we're not trying to shout from the rooftops and throwing our resources in people's faces.
"That's not how I work and it's not how our owners work. It's important people understand that," he said. Hughes and City have so far proved polite enough for Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tevez's advisors - who owned his registration - to surrender their prized assets, and they may yet be gentle enough to convince Adebayor to join them. firstname.lastname@example.org