United and City look set to battle it out to for Israeli youngster Gai Assulin, dubbed the next Lionel Messi from his days at Barcelona. Assulin’s Barca contract ran out over the summer, with the Spanish champions not prepared to offer him a renewal.
Assulin was picked up by Barca in 2003, at the tender age of 12, moving to their ‘B’ side in 2007. He earned a reputation as one of world football’s great prospects, but his development was hindered by a serious injury that kept him out of the 2008-09 season. He managed a couple of games for Barca’s senior side before his release. On a sceptical note, the ‘new Messi’ tag seems just slightly dubious, given that Messi didn’t get released aged 19. Not to mention the fact that Bruno Cheyrou was once lauded the ‘new Zidane’.
The youngster had a trial with City a couple of months back, in which he impressed and is expected to sign for them on a permanent basis. However, United have been linked with him in the past; it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Ferguson donning a blue and white scarf, holding an ‘Assulin’ sign at Manchester Airport, before bundling him into the back of a taxi and thrusting a contract in his face. The Forlan technique, I believe they call it.
There’s never going to be a guarantee of getting games at City. They’ve already amassed a large squad, comprised of players who realistically could get into most Premiership sides – it’s a situation that sees Roque Santa Cruz nowhere near the first team. So would a move to City be good for Assulin? From a footballing, rather than financial, perspective, that is.
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