Manchester City have hatched an audacious plan to build up a reserve of English talent and are lining up bids for as many as five of the country’s top young players.
The £12million arrival of Jack Rodwell from Everton may have raised eyebrows but is just the start of a recruitment drive aimed at giving them an English core that will serve them for years to come.
Swansea’s Scott Sinclair seems sure to be the next capture, while Daily Mail understands England Under 21 keeper Jack Butland, his Birmingham team-mate Nathan Redmond and Tottenham defender Steven Caulker are also under review.
The idea of hand-picking emerging England players and allowing them to develop at City has been discussed between the club’s Arab owners and Etihad-based hierarchy and is seen as a way of building a solid foundation for lasting success.
It has been approved by Roberto Mancini, though the City manager is more concerned about his side’s immediate prospects and bolstering his starting line-up for an imminent title defence.
The longer-term targets are mostly in the £10-15m bracket and viewed as sound investments who can contribute to the squad now and become key figures later, once their potential has been fulfilled.
As revealed in Daily Mail last week, City have made an approach for Sinclair and Swansea have already begun the search for a replacement after accepting he will leave.
Tottenham’s 20-year-old Team GB centre back Caulker has gone straight from the Olympics to the full England squad for this evening’s game against Italy and is coming under increasingly close scrutiny at City.
As the Barclays Premier League champions consider a bid, they have also concluded that Butland is the country’s outstanding young keeper and heir apparent to Joe Hart.
Birmingham’s financial plight leaves them ill-equipped to fend off bids, but while that may hasten the departure of highly rated 18-year-old winger Redmond, prising Butland away may be a different matter.
The 19-year-old, due to become England’s youngest ever keeper in Berne on Wednesday night, is understood to be aware of City’s interest but is unsure whether he wants to risk spending a decade in Hart’s shadow for club as well as country. Hart is still only 25, and while City are eager to have England’s first and second-choice keeper on the pitch and bench for years to come, Butland wants a more active role at club level. – Daily Mail