English champions Manchester City are reportedly lining up a £35m move for Real Madrid's Argentinean striker Gonzalo Higuain. It is believed the former River Plate player is seen as an alternative to Arsenal's Robin van Persie. City, Manchester United and Italian champions Juventus were believed to be in the race to sign the Dutch striker but it now seems it is the Italians who have the upper hand.
City boss Roberto Mancini spoke earlier of his frustration at the club's inactivity in the transfer market and seems keen on bolstering attacking options, even as the club tries trimming the first team squad and wage bill by transferring fringe players.
The club already has an excessively high number of strikers at hand and, given the imminent implementation of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, must transfer players as soon as possible. Togo international Emmanuel Adebayor and Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz will definitely leave the club, as long as they can negotiate salaries elsewhere. It was believed that Spurs were close to signing Adebayor, who impressed on a season-long loan at White Hart Lane last year, but the player's wage demands are proving to be troublesome. Meanwhile, City must also consider the future of Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko, who has been linked to the Serie A and Inter Milan as a possible destination.
City have had a mixed bag of results insofar as their pre-season friendly results are concerned. They started with a surprising 0-1 loss to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal. Mancini's men also enjoyed a solid 2-0 win over Arsenal, in a friendly in China, and a 3-1 win over a Malaysia XI. However, straight from that win, City slumped to a 1-2 defeat to League One side Oldham Athletic.
The match against Oldham featured Roque Santa Cruz and the Paraguayan scored his side's only goal of the game, as he sought to impress his employers. The game was more important, though, for the return to action of senior players like James Milner and Joe Hart, who were on leave after their participation in the 2012 European Championships. Oldham opened the scoring after just five minutes, with Robbie Simpson on hand to put the ball away. Santa Cruz scored in the 53rd minute but City conceded in injury time, when Oldham defender Jonathan Grounds scored a fortuitous goal off a corner.