From the Press box

Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Wing options aplenty

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Blues jet off to China today on a tour which is both promotional and functional in the fact it is the centre piece of our pre-season campaign. Carson Yeung and his team will be working hard to launch brand Birmingham in their homeland, whilst the coaching staff will be focusing on getting the team up to speed for what will be another hard and tiring Premier League campaign.

Back home however it is astoundingly quiet. The FA fax machine shall be staying silent for a while as Premier League clubs do not seem in a rush to push deals forward that will enrich and enhance their squads for next season.

Although Blues have had early dabbles in the transfer market, with Foster, Valles and Zigic all joining the club, since then we seem to have had a succession of bids knocked back for players. One of the players Blues have shown massive interest in is Wigan’s Charles N’Zogbia, and reports claim we have bid £8 million for the player, whilst Wigan value him at much more than this. Subsequently, Birmingham have withdrawn their bid and we are now apparantly looking elsewhere for a winger.

Ryan Babel can now enter this story. Babel has been linked with the club since January, and was apparently subject to bids during that window. If we are showing interest, then maybe this is the best time to do it. Since we apparently enquired about the player back in January, Rafa Benitez has left the club, and Roy Hodgson has moved into the Liverpool hotspot. Liverpool don’t have a massive amount of money to spend, and perhaps selling players such as Babel, who hasn’t exactly set the world alight at the club, would be a viable option for Hodgson to raise funds.

Since joining Liverpool in 2007, Babel has made 82 appearances scoring 11 goals in the process, roughly one in 7.5 games. N’Zogbia joined latest club Wigan in 2009 and has since made 49 appearances scording 6 goals for the club, roughly 1 in 8 games.

Either would be a great and necessary addition to the club. N’Zogbia is primarily a winger who can sub at left back, but Babel is a winger who can also be used as a striker, which would add a further dimension to our forward line. With Christian Benitez back at his parent club, we only have Cameron Jerome who can add any pace up front. Although Jerome ended in the top scoring Premier League player list, his football ability is still questioned by some fans, and perhaps the addition of Babel upfront would be a better foil for the technically gifted but slow Zigic.

The Babel story is interesting. On the one hand, it could be read as a manager looking elsewhere for options on the wing after his first choice hasn’t worked out. However, Wigan are also under financial pressure to a point and stories emerging in the paper about Blues interest in Babel may somewhat force Wigan’s hand in speaking to Blues again about N’Zogbia. Perhaps Wigan were waiting for a bigger offer to come in for the paper, and so far, this seems to be unfounded. Perhaps seeing Blues offer up money elsewhere will make Wigan reconsider their stance on how much their player is worth.

Perhaps, and maybe now I am being adventurous, we could even look to bring both players to the club. Converting Babel to an out and out striker could always be a plan of McLeish’s, whilst keeping N’Zogbia on the wing. It would add much needed pace to the side, and hopefully add much needed goals to a side who struggled to score last season, and achieved much of their success through a fantastic defensive unit.

Although transfer rumblings are gentle shakes rather than deafening tremors, the signs seem positive. McLeish and his team quite obviously are looking at various options, and have a number of plans in place. Let’s hope that when the 22 man squad come back from China, we’ll have a player (or two) flying in on the wing.

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Written by Nicole Carroll

July 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm

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