Joleon Lescott was the subject of a renewed £19m bid from Manchester City last night that increased the pressure on Everton to sell their England international defender. It came on the day that City sealed Kolo Touré's £15m transfer and gave Nedum Onuoha a new contract.
The five-year deal for Onuoha, as revealed in The Independent, was in spite of suggestions that the academy player would be part of a deal to sign Lescott. Having previously spent around £95m on Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor, the club have now invested heavily in their defence with Lescott the next target after John Terry elected to stay at Chelsea.
However, for City fans, the decision to keep Onuoha will be just as important, the 22-year-old having played a significant role in City's defence last season. He represents something of the continuity and success of City's academy system that would have been central to the club's future if the billionaire investor Sheikh Mansour had not taken over. The England under-21, also academically gifted, is regarded as a potential future captain of the club.
Having lost Daniel Sturridge to Chelsea on a free transfer because – the player claimed – he would stand a better chance of first-team football, Onuoha said that he still believed City's local boys could thrive at the club. "This is a great place for any young player to be," Onuoha said. "Hopefully, it will be the start of another good five years for me and for the club. This is a season that we will be looking right towards the top of the table. We feel anything is possible.
"There is a brilliant mix in terms of the squad. There are a lot of big signings but there are also plenty of lads who have come through the academy and I think that is an important thing. If you look at the recent history of the clubs that have won trophies they have all had a home-grown element."
Hughes wants to instil a leadership quality in his squad of international stars –an impressive list of players whose compatibility is by no means assured – and in Terry he hoped to buy it ready-made. Having failed after the England captain's late change of mind, he has now landed his second choice Touré with Lescott set to follow.
On Touré, who has signed a four-year deal, Hughes said: "Kolo has been a central figure in a very strong Arsenal team for years. I have been an admirer for a long time. He is strong, quick, reads the game well and will be an influential figure in the dressing room."
City have also loaned the Bulgarian striker Valeri Bojinov to Parma for one season.Reuse content