City aim to sell Elano in January clear-out

Mark Hughes will make a flying visit to Abu Dhabi today to tell Manchester City's owner, Sheikh Mansour al-Nahyan, that he is planning a mass clear-out of players, which may see the Brazilian Elano leaving the club in January and Wayne Bridge arriving, if Chelsea can be persuaded to part with the left-back.

Hughes is believed to be hopeful of securing the services of Bridge, who has started only four league games this season with Ashley Cole for company at Chelsea. Defensive reinforcements are a prime target for City, who have conceded twice in six out of the last seven matches and look desperately vulnerable to counter-attacks. Other defensive buys look likely for Hughes (right), but those heading out of the club may include the Academy graduate Nedum Onouha, midfield anchor Dietmar Hamann and Darius Vassell as well as Javier Garrido – who has looked out of his depth since Sven Goran Eriksson signed him – and Michael Ball.

The prospect of Elano departing will surprise most. Though he has never recaptured the form which made him seem like Eriksson's best summer buy, he has returned to form recently and has been influential in helping his compatriot Robinho to settle. But Hughes is understood to feel that Elano is not a positive dressing-room influence and not a player who can enable City to make the leap to elite football that the Arabs are looking for.

Surprisingly for a side with huge attacking resources, City remain intent on making a major play for Roque Santa Cruz in January, having failed with a £15m bid this summer, and may offer Blackburn Rovers a player plus cash to secure his services. The dire defensive error by City's captain, Richard Dunne, which gifted Tottenham Hotspur a goal on Sunday has given rise to a feeling that he may not be long for City but, despite Eriksson's reluctance to offer him a new contract, it is understood that Hughes has resolved to persist with him. The same goes for Micah Richards, a player who is going backwards at the moment and who has not impressed Hughes in training.

Though Hughes goes into his first encounter with Sheikh Mansour on the back of a ringing endorsement from the club's chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, there is a view among some sources in the Middle East that the absence of superstar names from his shopping list is at odds with the Arabs' belief that players such as Robinho represent the way ahead. Though City's poor form has not in itself put Hughes' future in any doubt, he has never been comfortable with the idea of superstar signings – preferring, it seems, Wayne Bridge to Barcelona's Eric Abidal, Santa Cruz to Kaka – and this might be a stumbling block. Some in Abu Dhabi say a new manager is being sought already, though Mubarak categorically denied that yesterday.

The policy of hiring big names was espoused by Sulaiman al-Fahim, the initial figurehead for the United Abu Dhabi Group, who seemed to have been moved from the spotlight when, to ridicule in some quarters, he declared players of the Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres ilk could be brought to City. Though his current influence is unclear, it is understood that he has put together a new report suggesting five names are needed for January.

Fahim could not be reached last night, but the prevailing view from the Middle East points to some soul-searching about the extent to which City can be developed the Hughes way. The statement which the purchase of Robinho represented and the way it made City the talk of the planet helped Sheikh Mansour realise what has always been the overriding aim of his £200m purchase of City – to bring global recognition to Abu Dhabi.

Hughes will miss only one day's training to make his trip, which sees him fly out tonight and return in the early hours of Friday. He seems to have an ally in Mubarak, who dined with the manager's family on Saturday. Mubarak rubbished reports Sir Alex Ferguson's son Darren, who manages Peterborough, or Jose Mourinho might be targets for the manager's chair at Eastlands. "This is a 10-year dynasty we are building and we are only in the first two months," Mubarak said. "We are calm and under control and we [the board] have the highest regard for Mark."

Eastlands exits? Players to be sold

*Nedum Onuoha (21, defender)

*Javier Garrido (23, defender)

*Michael Ball (29, defender)

*Elano (27, midfielder)

*Dietmar Hamann (35, midfielder)

*Darius Vassell (28, striker)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)