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The Boateng Question

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Before we begin, a few quick notes from the past 2 days:

- Our probable new goalkeeper looked sharp today, blanking Duisburg as Schalke won the Pokal, 5-0. The game wasn’t on here in the States, but FIFA’s web-site describes Neuer as "rarely troubled in goal."

- The sale of Ottl has been finalized - he officially joined Hertha Berlin this morning.

- Oliver Kahn hates on Nerlinger and the board for paying so much for Neuer, and apparently thinks that Heynckes is too old.

Now, on to today’s business: it appears that Bayern is moving closer to singing Jerome Boateng. Mirror Football, the Daily Mail, and the Bleacher Report all discuss the possibility, with Mirror Football using the strongest language: "Bayern Munich claim they are on track to sign Jerome Boateng from Manchester City." The word on the street is that Bayern and Boateng have agreed to terms, the remaining question is whether the club can reach a deal with Man City over a selling price.

City brought in Boateng only a year ago for 10.5 million pounds - about 12 million Euro. (Note that Bleacher Report got this wrong, they say 12 million pounds, but every other source says that number referred to Euros). Regardless of the currency vagaries, Bayern would only be interested at a pretty steep discount; we supposedly want Boateng for 8 million Euro or less. So I guess there are two questions to be answered here: (1) will City let Boateng go at a cut-rate price, and (2) should we really want him anyway.

QUESTION 1

It’s hard to know for sure what price would be City’s walking-away point, but they will probably be willing to take a loss. Both Vincent Kompany and Jolean Lescott have played well for Manchester City this year (so I hear, I’ve only seen them play like twice). So City is left with the choice of selling to Bayern at a lower price than they paid, although still a decent amount of money, or else holding on to Boateng to see if they get a better offer or if one of their starters gets hurt and they actually need him.

Most managers/team presidents don’t like to take a loss on a player - i.e., if you buy a guy for a certain amount, you’d prefer to sell him for at least as much, UNLESS you’ve already obtained several years of good play from the guy and he’s advanced in age past his prime. That isn’t the case with Boateng, but City know that they 12 million Euro they spent is already gone - no use in chasing a sunk cost. Even if they can only recoup 6 or 8 million, that’s money they can put towards another purchase at a position they need help. Or, they could just keep the money - but either way, most people would rather have 8 million Euros over a guy who isn’t going to play.

So, this will depend on whether City can get another team in desperate need of a CB to pay more than 6 or 8 million for Boateng, and also whether they want to keep him around in case of emergencies. From what I’ve read, the answers are "no" and "no," meaning we could probably get Boateng for 8 mil if we wanted to. Which brings us to:

QUESTION 2

Do we really want Jerome Boateng as one of our starting CBs next year? And the more I think about it, I’m forced to angrily conclude that, yes, we do. "Angrily" because there are guys I’d rather have, but it appears Boateng might be the best we can actually get, and he is pretty talented, a proven stopper, and still young.

First, it seems that Benedikt Howedes will not leave Schalke. I’m disappointed, because he’s exactly what we need, but I can’t blame Schalke for refusing to sell their two most valuable pieces in the same summer. So, we have to consider who else is available. Chelsea’s Alex, in my opinion, doesn’t have the speed and is a little too old (28). We should be brining in a guy that can hold down the CB spot for years. I’d love to see us make a run at Per Mertesacker, who can do all the things that van Buyten does, but is younger and less stiff. Unfortunately, his next move will likely be to Arsenal. I haven’t seen any indication that Bayern is looking to get in a bidding war over Mertesacker, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

So, other than Boateng, we’d be looking at a number of young guys who have shown flashes of talent, but are still unproven. Simon Kjaer is one example. I’ve only seen him play once, but he looked really sharp technically, and has the height necessary to get to high balls in the area. Another possibility is Genoa’s Domenico Criscito, who played most of this last season at LB with Genoa, but started his career as a CB. Criscito has international experience and has played against some of the world’s best players, but doesn’t have the same proven track record as Boateng. There are a few other guys of this caliber - defenders who may end up being great, but who aren’t seen as the equal of a guy like Boateng yet. The question is whether we want to gamble on someone like this, or take what’s seen as more of a sure thing (Boateng - ironic, because he’s the one coming off a serious knee injury).

Considering what we’re hoping to accomplish next year, I think we’ll end up going for the sure thing. After a disappointing season with no trophies, going into a year in which we’re going to start playing mid-week ball very early (CL qualifying round), and considering the CL final is held at our home arena, I think Nerlinger and the rest of the gang will end up springing for Boateng. If they check out his injury and are assured that he’d be ready to go, Jerome and Badstuber would make a good pairing (or Jerome and Gustavo, if Holger is still on the outs when the season starts - but I think Badstuber will be starting once Heynckes get in).

But nothing is certain until the deal is signed. As of right now, I could see any of the following things derailing this deal:

(1) Manchester City refuses to take a loss, and won’t sell for less than 12 million Euro

(2) Bayern becomes unsure that Boateng will recover his form 100% when returning from injury

(3) Something crazy happens and one of the world’s best CBs (Vidic, Pique, etc) becomes surprisingly available all of a sudden, due to a falling out with management or whatever

(4) Bayern decides to take a chance on an unproven guy with a lot of upside, like Kjaer

If none of those 4 things happen, I think Boateng will probably be joining us by July.

More tomorrow or Monday, there are a lot of rumors floating around. Thanks for reading.