Manchester City were last night moving closer to concluding a £30m deal to make Edin Dzeko the first big name deal of the transfer window, following talks over the Wolfsburg player.
Though Sir Alex Ferguson ultimately decided against moving for the player — who scored at Old Trafford for the German side last season — because he believed he lacked pace, the 24-year-old's aerial power and ability to finish with both feet provides Roberto Mancini with another type of striker, as well as an insurance policy against the continued unpredictability of Carlos Tevez or Mario Balotelli.
Dzeko's probable arrival —City want to conclude a deal within a deal within the next week — represents reward for an 18-month pursuit of the Sarajevo-born Serbian, who has netted 84 times in 142 games for the 2008-09 Bundesliga champions.
Mark Hughes first identified Dzeko as a potential target for City, though the two clubs were some distance apart in the summer as Wolfsburg refused to budge on their £42m valuation.
Dzeko's arrival will leave Emmanuel Adebayor's destiny unclear and it appears to spell the end of Roque Santa Cruz's unhappy City career.
Lazio want him on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move, though the club's president Claudio Lotito suggested yesterday that the Paraguyan has rejected such a deal because he wants an immediate permanent transfer.
“We take into account Santa Cruz's reaction and his desire to make any transfer permanent,” Lotito said.