La Liga

Los Blanco’s Agent Is The Driving Force, But Striker Perfect For City

Karem Benzema’s agent claims the Real Madrid talisman is interested in a summer switch to English champions Manchester City, fuelling the growing rumours that Roberto Mancini is looking for ways to add to the most expensive strike force in Premier League history.

His agent, somewhat ambiguously, told Sky Sports that he has, “put Benzema forward after a talk with a reliable source at Manchester City as a possible summer signing”.

Would Man City want him?

Roberto Mancini may maintain “we are OK up front“, but Manchester City’s strikers cut an increasingly unattractive figure, if they wish to defend their title and pose a threat in next season’s Champions’ League.

Dzeko’s departure seems imminent after a disappointingly patchy tenure in Manchester, and the flaky temperament of Tevez and Balotelli needs no introduction. Mancini cannot rely on two players that could fly off the rails at any given moment: City cannot afford another season where golfing gets them as many column inches as football.

Sergio Aguero remains the only dependable striker in the City ranks, and since the window reopened, City have been linked with a succession of tall, powerful centre forwards that could compliment the jinking majesty of the Argentinian maestro. A rumour linking Napoli’s Lavezzi to the club refuses to subside, and both Cavani and Ibrahimovic have been singled out as possible targets before the news broke today of Benzema’s potential interest – a mouth-watering prospect.

The power of a Benzema-type would perfectly compliment the exciting playing style of Aguero. The explosive Argentine’s mazy slaloms and deft finishing represent to many the pinnacle of football’s beauty, blending refined technical assurance with balletic movement. But when it comes to winning championships, and creating well-oiled machines that can steam-roller opposition defences, elegance and grace must be balanced with raw power and ruthless, clinical football. Benzema certainly fits the bill.

The Frenchman’s greatest skill is the efficiency of his play, combining his technical consistency with a ruthless eye for goal, offering the reliability that so painfully eludes the majority of Mancini’s outspoken strikers. The idea of combining Aguero’s artistry and Benzema’s power is enough to make Ferguson look off with pensive angst, perhaps ruing his own inability to capture the French international.

The truth is, even if the unpredictable Mancini still holds faith in his current quartet of strikers, the opportunity to sign such a prestigious talent is one he cannot afford to miss. Scoring 31 goals for Madrid last season, Benzema’s scintillating form makes him arguably the hottest property in Europe. With a virtually endless supply of financial might, why would Man City pass up this opportunity?

Is Benzema actually interested?

They may not get the chance to. There is a fairly obvious flaw in this news story: why would Benzema, a Galactico in the best form of his career, earning a reported £140 000 per week, wish to leave Mourinho’s Real Madrid? In fact, as recently as yesterday Benzema said that the thought of leaving has “never crossed my mind“.

A highly likely scenario is that his agent Jonathan Hope is blowing smoke, looking to attract the attention of Madrid’s president Florentino Perez. Three years into his first contract at the Bernebeu, Benzema may well be expecting a new deal in the near future, and the likelihood of a pay rise is significantly increased if the player appears to be open to a lucrative move to England.

Nonchalantly displaying a willingness to walk out of the club puts Benzema in a position of power in any contract negotations, not to mention the increased likelihood of being offered a new deal if Man City take the bait and make a formal approach for the player.

This underhand tactic of agents, provoking clubs into offering their clients new contracts by sparking rumours of potential exits, is frequently employed: one need only look at the Wayne Rooney saga in 2010 for evidence of this.

Jonathan Hope may be pouncing on the media interest in Man City’s forward situation, recognising his client fits the bill whilst cleverly releasing this story (via a conspicuously unnamed ‘reliable source’) just before a major international tournament, which could drastically increase Benzema’s stock.

Man City would love to sign Karem Benzema, who could easily strike a terrifying partnership with Aguero and fill a void likely to be left by the departure of Edin Dzeko (and possibly others). But it is unlikely that this rumour is based on truth. Gently poking Perez, Hope is reminding the club his client has other options. Benzema is more likely to be waiting for a lucrative offer from Real Madrid, than from Manchester City.

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