Ryan Shawcross, a centre-half schooled in the sweet science of quelling attacking by none other than Manchester United, has emerged as a leading transfer target for Premier League champions Manchester City.
The Citizens are stand alone favourites with bwin to win next season’s title at 9/5 and are thought to be keen on bolstering their feeble British contingent for the forthcoming campaign.
Central-defence is one area Manuel Pellegrini desperately needs to pad out and Stoke City skipper Shawcross is the man he regards as the solution to the problem.
Several of the players soon to be exiled from the Etihad this summer are of English origin, with Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry, Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell all being ushered towards the City exit door.
All Premier League participants must have a minimum of eight ‘home-grown’ players in their 25-man squads, a number the Citizens would struggle to make up if all of the aforementioned players were axed.
Their need to up the quota has got almost every top-tier bedfellow on tenterhooks, casting shifty glances behind them in preparation for a big-money bid for their leading home-schooled stars.
The Potters look to set to be the first port of call, with the Man City wad-wavers billowing the scent of £12m around the Britannia Stadium.
While there are no quotes to confirm this, it seems obvious that Mark Hughes would sooner keep hold of the man voted player of the year by his teammates, but this sizeable figure, coupled with Shawcross’ ambitions to venture into unchartered Champions League territory, may force him to accept their offer.
Man City face (rather flimsy, it has to be said) competition from Newcastle for the 26-year-old, but it’s almost certain that they’ll be sent elsewhere in their centre-back search.