Thaksin reveals interest in Adriano

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The Independent Online

Manchester City's Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra is looking for additional investors to help subsidise his ambitious plans for the club the latest of which might be a swap deal which would see Internazionale's Brazilian striker Adriano arriving, with Rolando Bianchi conceivably heading back to Italy in his place.

Thaksin, whose eye-catching public pronouncements about his new club and possible purchases have contrasted with the discretion of his manager Sven Goran Eriksson, gave a colourful verdict on Adriano during a public appearance in Hong Kong. "[He] was a top player, but he lost form when his father died, and he put on weight," Thaksin said. "Now he's returning to form. We're looking to see whether we'll do a swap deal or not."

A swap deal would overcome the high wage demands which have prevented other clubs from signing him. He is on 110,000 a week at Inter and though the club would be happy to have someone else take over that burden it was certainly too much for West Ham earlier this year.

Thaksin was also quoted as saying that City needed a midfield holding player, eventually to replace German midfielder Dietmar Hamann. "Hamann is getting old," said Thaksin. "We're looking at a new midfielder who we think will play very well with Elano. We're going to play in a classic style." These comments will please neither the German nor Eriksson, who has been delighted with Hamann and is in discussions with him about a new contract.

But the Adriano deal does seem to fit with Eriksson's thinking. It is an open secret that the City manager wants a new striker but it is also understood that overseas players are far more likely to form a part of Eriksson's plans than Englishmen. The view from within the club is that neither Michael Owen nor Peter Crouch will arrive.

Eriksson expressed for a second time yesterday his view that good English players are too expensive for City. "If you want an [English Javier] Garrido, where do you go," he said. "You have to go for Wayne Bridge or Ashley Cole. You can't compare the process [even] though you can compare the players. That's the problem we have with talking to English players."

Eriksson also seems unlikely to sign players the their late 20s. "We've not discussed how much money will be available," Eriksson said. "But once we see what kind of players we want then [Thaksin] will decide if we put that money in if they are young players. If they are older players he will be less willing to spend."

Despite the talk about players, Thaksin's musings about the cost of running a football team seem the most significant aspect of yesterday's pronouncements. "The fact is I've just found out that running a football club, especially at the Premier League level, is very expensive," Thaksin said. "Normal revenue from TV, sponsors, kit sales, ticket sales is never enough. That's the reason why Premier League clubs keep changing hands, you need to find deeper and deeper pockets all the time," the billionaire telecoms tycoon added.

Securitisation of gate receipts making payments against ticket sales to bondholders in return for investment in the club is the solution, according to Thaksin. "If we want to own and manage Manchester City football club forever, we have to find other sources of income. You have to know how to use modern financial instruments and that's what we're planning.

"Securitisation is the name of the game they are playing in Western countries. We have to work on that. If we manage clubs in the old style, it's not going to work. The Premier League is global by nature."

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