Can 'next Toure' hold out for free transfer to Arsenal or Liverpool?
Manchester City's Abdisalim Ibrahim faces a critical month for his future in January.Abdisalim Ibrahim could just be Manchester City's hidden gem, and one they are ready to discard.
The Norwegian under-21 international faces a critical juncture in his future in January, and will have to decide whether to take what is on offer, or control his own destiny in the summer.
Ibrahim has been described by The Mail as comparable to Yaya Toure, but he does not feature in new boss Manuel Pellegrini's future plans.
He has been on loan throughout 2013 at Norwegian side Stromsgodset, where he has played 32 games including four Europa League qualifiers.
He has two goals and three assists to his name, although as a defensive midfielder making that sort of impact is not his primary focus. The Norwegian football season is coming to an end for 2013, meaning the player will head back to his parent club.
It is reported that the 22-year-old will be made available for transfer this January by Manchester City, with a number of clubs linked, but he may not be keen on any of them.
Hull, Everton, Newcastle, Fiorentina, Lazio and Stuttgart are the clubs linked in the Mails' report, but it adds crucially: "It is understood Ibrahim would prefer a move to a rival Premier League club."
Back in June, SkySports reported that Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur were all 'thought to be interested' in the promising midfielder.
Ibrahim's decision in January sits like this - Does he make a move to whichever clubs make an offer for City to him and go and play somewhere immediately?
His contract expires in 2014, so he could alternately sit in the reserves at City for six months and control his own destiny, either signing a pre-contract agreement or waiting until the summer to move on.
As a free agent, a dream move to a big club becomes more practical - with both Arsenal and Liverpool needing depth in defensive midfield positions he could be a bargain back-up, one who is low-risk and has a big upside.
Ibrahim is said to have turned down permanent moves to Crystal Palace and Celtic this summer, but preferred to wait, stay on loan and explore his options in the New Year.
If the ideal offer does not come in for an immediate move, bet on the youngster sticking to his guns and holding out for a move of his dreams. It may just be worth the gamble.