It should be plainly obvious to any football fan with half a brain that Craig Bellamy is looking at the front door.
From the moment that his fellow Welshman Mark Hughes was sacked at Manchester City, reports emerged that Bellamy was preparing to hand in a transfer request. Just days later, Bellamy and new boss Roberto Mancini reportedly clashed over Bellamy’s training regimen, which Hughes created to help Bellamy with a recurring knee problem. Mancini might plead ignorance to Bellamy’s knock and attempt to smooth things out with one of his new side’s top goal scorers, but the Italian’s reputation for being a “no-nonsense” manager would suggest that he won’t tolerate someone as combustable as Bellamy in his locker room for long — especially given Bellamy’s history of falling out with replacement managers.
This combination makes Bellamy a prime target in the January transfer window for any club looking to bolster its strike force. Despite Bellamy’s popularity at Eastlands, Man City has no shortage of attacking options and could use the cash from Bellamy’s sale to bolster its sagging defense. Perhaps the only question is where Bellamy might land.
I can immediately think of three clubs that might be interested in this player’s services.
1.) Tottenham Hotspur.
This appears to be early favorite. Harry Redknapp lost out to Hughes in his attempt to lure Bellamy away from West Ham a year ago, so it’s no surprise that this rumor has already emerged in the press. Redknapp seems keen to sell any striker at White Hart Lane that’s not named Crouch or Defoe, so he’ll need another option at forward. Bellamy’s pace and ability to play on the wings would also give Redknapp a bit more flexibility in team selection. Plus, Spurs’ European ambitions would suit Bellamy just fine, thank you.
Unlike his departure from Newcastle, Bellamy left Liverpool on fairly good terms and seemed to like Rafa Benitez well enough. He also remains popular with the Anfield faithful — many of whom probably wish they, too, could have a go at John Arne Riise with a 5-iron — so his return would likely be a welcome one. Liverpool remains short on options up front beyond Fernando Torres, and if Benitez could work Bellamy and his scoring into the lineup with Torres and Steven Gerrard, the Reds’ attack might instantly become more formidable than it’s been all season. That just might give the Reds a better chance of finishing 4th and retaining their Champions League status. Much like Redknapp, however, Benitez would have to sell players before he could buy Bellamy, which means if he’s interested in making this move, he would have to act quickly.
Roy Hodgson, meanwhile, hasn’t shown any real interest in Bellamy. Perhaps he should. With Andy Johnson still injured and Fulham still looking for a proven goal scorer beyond the erratic (though currently in-form) Bobby Zamora, Bellamy might fit in quite nicely at Craven Cottage, where he could link up with Zamora, Clint Dempsey, Damien Duff and Danny Murphy to produce a more potent attack. Plus, unlike Tottenham, Fulham could offer Bellamy European football right now. The Cottagers have a date with Shakhtar Donetsk in February and a potential shot at Juventus in March. Those challenges might be appealing to Bellamy.
Of course, all three of these clubs might struggle to come up with the £10 million or more that will likely be required to pull Bellamy away from Eastlands. There’s little doubt, however, that this fiery forward wants out. He was loyal to Hughes where the club’s ownership was not, and a falling out with Mancini — which has potential to be as nasty as his falling out with Graeme Souness five years ago — seems as inevitable as a rainy English winter. Let’s just hope that in the meantime, the new manager has enough sense to hide those golf clubs.