Mancini not rushing to sign Dzeko
Roberto Mancini is confident patience will prove to be a virtue in his pursuit of Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko. The giant forward has attracted the attention of most major clubs in Europe but it seems Manchester City are closing in on Dzeko, having agreed a fee with Wolfsburg that is believed to be around £27m.
Personal terms have still to be sorted, as has a work permit, although that will be automatically granted as the 24-year-old has won 31 caps since making his international debut in 2007. And with no Premier League game until 15 January after tomorrow night's trip to Arsenal, City see no requirement to rush the transfer through. But when the player - top scorer in the Bundesliga last season - does eventually arrive at Eastlands, Mancini knows he will be getting a high-quality performer.
"We have agreed a fee with Wolfsburg and I am confident he will come but we must wait," said the City boss. "Tomorrow we have an important game, so we must keep our focus on it. But all the teams in Europe want Dzeko, which is a sign that he is a good player."
Mancini feels Dzeko's power will compliment the greater finesse of skipper Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, who, along with David Silva, has been ruled out of the crucial Emirates Stadium clash with a knee injury. This could then herald the departures of Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz, although City officials have stated that, as yet, there are no deals on the verge of being concluded, the same also being true of Wayne Bridge.
Although City did receive a request from West Ham to take Bridge on loan, the Londoners were apparently willing to cover a portion of the former England full-back's £80,000-a-week salary, and the Blues were unwilling to make up the difference.
Mancini's desire to remain concentrated on on-the-field matters for another 24 hours is understandable. City have not enjoyed the best of times at Arsenal in recent years. Their last there win came in 1975. But they know three points on this occasion will cement their status in the top-two and leave them five ahead of the Gunners, with Tottenham and Chelsea also trailing. "It is time to change it," said Mancini, of the 35-year wait for an away win. "But I don't know if Arsenal will agree."
Mancini tempering title-chances
Clearly though, Mancini is intent on removing any pressure from his players' shoulders. Having claimed earlier in the season that Chelsea would win the title, the Italian is sticking with his prediction, in addition raising doubts over his own side's ability to sustain a challenge whilst emphasising the additional experience of City's rivals.
"Chelsea have more chance," he said. "They have a problem at this moment because Carlo (Ancelotti) has three or four important players injured. When you have that situation for two or three months, it is very difficult. But Arsenal, Chelsea, United and Tottenham all have more experience than us and, probably, one of these four teams will win the title. We just want to try and stay there and improve."
Mancini must be cursing his luck when it comes to clashes with the Gunners though. On their previous meeting at Eastlands in October. Dedryck Boyata was sent off in the opening five minutes, rendering any pointers from a three-goal Arsenal triumph meaningless. This time Silva, City's most consistent performer so far this term, is out.
James Milner replaced the Spanish star during the New Year's Day win over Liverpool. But he lacks Silva's creative qualities, so Shaun Wright-Phillips may also come into contention. Either way, Mancini accepts his side will have to be at their best to stop an Arsenal outfit he admires greatly.
"I like the way they play. It is perfect," he said. "I don't think there is only one player to fear in the Arsenal side. Usually people say Fabregas, Van Persie or Arshavin. But every player has good technique. They are just a very good team."