Manchester City’s summer window would not be one of disaccord nor idleness. Their targets from the beginning of the summer were clear and City were relentless in capturing Gundogan and Nolito before the Euros had finished. Sporting director Txiki Begiristain dithered and fluctuated a little but managed to drag Leroy Sané, John Stones and a host of youngsters across the line before the season got underway. And then, as the window came to a close, Claudio Bravo was sealed.
Here I take a look at City’s transfer window and give a verdict.
An Eye for the Future
If there was ever one criticism of Manchester City in the transfer market since the takeover, then it would be that City regularly fail to secure the services of that elite bracket of a talent. Far too often we have seen the best players of tomorrow decline, refuse and reject Manchester City in favour of a super club. Isco, Mario Gotze, Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard, Neymar (who we didn’t even bother to properly go in for, such was our certainty that he wouldn’t consider us). The lengthy list of prime talent we have missed out on has been detrimental, leaving us with an aging squad and an urgent need to splash the cash on younger players.
That’s why this summer felt like a real watershed moment for Manchester City. For the first time in a long time, a player of Gabriel Jesus’ ilk – wanted by every European super club – chose us ahead of everybody else. Leroy Sané decided that at Manchester City he would find the best environment for him to develop as a player. Ukrainian prodigy Oleksandr Zinckenko probably held the same thought too and there is no doubt that Colombian Marlos Moreno had enticing offers elsewhere.
No Squad Overhaul
For so many years now, a complete squad overhaul has not just been called for, but demanded. Ever since Roberto Mancini’s final season, a ticking timer has been placed above the heads of so many players in this squad, particularly the senior ones. Yet here we are, three years later, with nearly every single member of our old guard still standing.
The truth is that squad overhauls in football are rare and often detrimental. They don’t happen because even if you were to replace every outgoing player with a superstar, your team would still be worse off. You can’t integrate a completely new starting XI, it just doesn’t work like that. You have to build slowly and around your key players and trust in your ability to revive the former glories of others.
Poor sales lead to too many loans
The high wages on offer at Manchester City are tempting for so many players because they know that even in the worst case scenario, they can still sit on the same wages elsewhere. Consequently, City find themselves in a precarious situation wherein they are so desperate to offload a player that they end up subsiding their wages at their next club. And we have seen this happen on a huge scale this summer.
And I think this is where Txiki Begiristain has to take some of the blame. I don’t loathe the man but it’s hard not to feel disappointed by some aspects of our business this summer. The fact that our biggest sale this summer was a measly £2.48m for Seko Fofana and that it took him until deadline day to shift any senior players makes you wonder whether he could sell a pair of Yeezys if his life depended on it.
The futures of said senior players that all left (on loan) on deadline day are still not assured. But if there are clauses in the deal that include options to buy than you can be certain that City will be making huge losses on the players because they were offered so much when they signed.
These past two summers have been proper throwback City transfer windows – a far cry from Roberto Mancini publicly blasting then sporting director Brian Marwood for a lack of spending or City desperately trying not to break the £42m net spending cap imposed by UEFA.
In the age of gigantic TV deals and frenzied spending, City have bought well and smart. While some will tell you that one, two, three or even a whole new set of full-backs were needed and that we ended up in none, it’s perfectly fine to look back and be very satisfied with Pep Guardiola’s new recruits. There is an abundance of pace, a wealth of different attacking options and a refined midfielder who is in sync with Pep Guardiola’s vision for how football should be played. We now have one of the best goalkeepers in the world and even managed to bag ourselves not just Vincent Kompany’s partner, but his future replacement too.