By Tom Bodell, Football Whispers
The Northern Ireland defender is not, you see, a typically exotic City signing. But the former Manchester United man is precisely the reliable Premier League-ready centre-half Pep Guardiola is crying out for.
Whether the move goes through or not, it will be one of the summer’s most unlikely deals. Our friends at Football Whispers have come up with six more.
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Wes Brown – Unattached to Kerala Blasters
The switch went under the radar and the Champions League winner made just three league starts before being released as the former Premier League winners were relegated to League One.
But when an ambitious offer from League Two side Crewe Alexandra amounted to nothing, Brown looked to be heading towards retirement.
However, former United No.2 Rene Meulensteen was appointed head coach of Kerala Blasters – whose majority shareholder is cricket legend Sachin Tendulker – in July and signed up Brown, now 37, this week for a season of Indian Super League Football.
Jermaine Pennant – Unattached to Billericay Town
The 34-year-old spent the second-half of last season with League One side Bury which, when he was turning out for Stoke City as recently as 2014, seemed like a fall from grace.
Since leaving the Potteries, Pennant has played in India and Singapore. He spent part of pre-season on trial at Hibernian but failed to earn a deal with the Scottish outfit.
So he moved to Billericay Town, naturally, and joined Glenn Tamplin’s expensively-assembled seventh-tier side, which also boasts Paul Konchesky, Jamie O’Hara and Kevin Foley.
Pennant signed a two-year deal worth a reported £3,000 per week. ‘Ricay have a weekly wage bill of more than £30,000 and are expecting to win promotion from the Bostik Premier Division.
Ruben Neves – Porto to Wolverhampton Wanderers
Cristiano Ronaldo’s right-hand man has overseen deals for several players the Championship side wouldn’t ordinarily dream of signing, including Atletico Madrid’s Diogo Jota, Porto’s Willy Boly, Monaco’s Ruben Vinagre and Helder Costa.
So far so good. Wolves sit second in the Championship with nine points from nine and Neves has scored once in three outings for the Midlanders.
Titus Bramble – Unattached to Stowmarket Town
Four years after he last turned out professionally for Sunderland in the Premier League, Bramble is back with Eastern Counties Football League side Stowmarket Town in the ninth tier of English football.
The 37-year-old, who had an unsuccessful trial with former side Ipswich following his release by the Black Cats, had been coaching at the Suffolk side with school friends Lee Norfolk and Scott Mitchell, both of whom work with Bramble at Ipswich.
“He came to training a couple of weeks ago, enjoyed it immensely and wanted to get involved,” said boss Rick Andrews. “From what I’ve seen in training, he’s certainly very comfortable at this level.”
Hardly surprising for a man who made 292 Premier League appearances in 13 years at Newcastle and Sunderland.
Robbie Keane – Unattached to Atletico de Kolkata
Another player heading to India for the start of the ISL season is former Tottenham favourite Robbie Keane – reports that Atletico de Kolkata were the striker’s boyhood team are thought to be wide of the mark.
And the Ireland international, who hit 68 goals in 146 caps, confirmed his move to the sub-continent at the start of this month to play for former Spurs team-mate Teddy Sheringham who is coach.
Paulinho – Guangzhou Evergrande to Barcelona
Unspectacular, at best, in two seasons at Tottenham, the Brazil international signed for former Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and seemed to get back to somewhere near his best in China.
He will add power to Barca’s midfield but it’s hard to imagine Blaugrana fans being impressed with the signing of a player who flopped in the Premier League.