Elano on way out after City leave him at home

The Manchester City career of Elano is hanging by a slender thread, with the Brazil international left out of the club's trip to South Africa and seemingly top of their clear-out list.

The Bundesliga side, Cologne, have approached City about taking the 28-year-old on loan and though he is understood not to be keen on the idea Elano may soon have to resign himself to a new challenge.

There has also been interest from La Liga, with Real Zaragoza among the clubs linked with him. Elano thrilled Eastlands with his early displays under Sven-Goran Eriksson in the 2007-08 season but has lacked the work ethic to impress his succcessor, Mark Hughes. His public insistence that he warrants an extension to his current contract, which expires in 2011, has not helped either.

After a January in which there were suspicions the player's representatives were agitating for a move – Hughes was made aware of alleged interest from Lazio and Milan – Elano worked his way back into the side but competition at City is formidable.

The 22-year-old centre back Nedum Onuoha is not a player City are looking to let go, despite reports of a cash-plus-player deal to take Joleon Lescott from Everton to Eastlands. Hughes has also rejected suggestions that there have been discussions about moving on Benjani Mwaruwari, possibly to Portsmouth.

But Elano is different. It was not his choice to miss the City tour, despite his Confederations Cup duties for Brazil last month, and his vulnerability was enhanced by Hughes' talk yesterday of the City squad being overly heavy. "Obviously the squad at the moment with the new additions is quite large and there is an optimum level you would prefer to work with during the course of a season," Hughes said. "If you have too many numbers it disrupts your work on a daily basis. The likelihood is that some players will go."

Micah Richards' absence from the tour is a result of his recuperation from swine flu.

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