manchester city: recruitments

Defender Wayne Bridge has become the first signing of what seems sure to be a busy transfer window for Manchester City after completing his expected transfer from Chelsea for a fee in the region of £10 million ($14.5 million). The England left-back completed his medical on Saturday morning and agreed personal terms on a four-and-a-half-year contract, before being introduced to supporters prior to City's FA Cup tie at home to Nottingham Forest. He watched on as his new team were humbled 3-0 by the second-flight side in a big upset.

The 28-year-old Bridge, who largely played second-fiddle to England colleague Ashley Cole during his spell at Stamford Bridge, is expected to make his debut against Portsmouth at Fratton Park next Saturday. "I played alongside Wayne at Southampton and saw him come through the ranks," City manager Mark Hughes told the club's Web site "He was an outstanding young player and he's progressed year on year in his career. He is an England international and has just played for one of the top four sides in the country. "He is of the right quality and is the type of player we need to attract. We need good players that understand this league and we will look to carry on in that way and add more if we can."

It is expected Hughes will return to old club Blackburn for Roque Santa Cruz early next week as City's Abu Dhabi-based owners begin to flex their vast financial muscle. Manchester City intensified their bid to sign Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn Rovers last night as Mark Hughes looked to reassert his authority over a demoralised squad. Hughes, the City manager, has been forced to contend with a series of problems in recent weeks, having identified Tal Ben-Haim and Elano among those responsible for a growing sense of disquiet in the dressing-room. But having sent a forceful message yesterday to any disgruntled players, it emerged that City have finally established formal contact with Blackburn as they try to secure the signing of Santa Cruz in a deal worth in the region of £15 million. Reports of an £8 million bid to sign Shay Given, the unsettled Newcastle United goalkeeper, were not confirmed by City officials.

John Williams, the Blackburn chairman, was quoted as saying yesterday lunchtime that he had yet to receive a formal offer from City for Santa Cruz, but contact has since been made between the clubs at boardroom level, with Hughes hoping that a deal for the Paraguay forward can be concluded sooner rather than later.

Hughes has spoken to Paul Aldridge, the City chief operating officer, to express frustration over the time taken to complete the proposed signings of Santa Cruz, Kolo TourĂ©, the Arsenal defender, and Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy, the West Ham United duo. City have been frustrated by West Ham’s intransigence and have indicated that they will be forced to look elsewhere if the London club, having sought to sell Calum Davenport to Bolton Wanderers and Matthew Etherington to Stoke City, do not play ball.

The City manager has other targets, having identified Joleon Lescott, of Everton, as an alternative to TourĂ©, and, with the signing of Wayne Bridge from Chelsea completed, Hughes maintains that his squad will be far stronger by the end of the month. He hopes to offload players such as Ben-Haim and Elano, but, in the meantime, has urged the malcontents in his squad to speak directly to him. “All the players know if they have any complaints, they can knock on my door,” Hughes said. “That is how it has always been. You are going to get these kind of stories when things are not going as well as you would like.”



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