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Manchester City’s sale of Argentina goalkeeper the most expensive in La Liga this winter

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (L) kicks the ball past Real Sociedad's Argentinian goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad de Futbol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on November 28, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/ LLUIS GENE / AFP / LLUIS GENE        (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

Manchester City’s signing, loan and, finally, sale to Real Sociedad of Argentine goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli caused much confusion among fans. Why was it happening and what was the logic behind it?

City never announced that they had signed Rulli from Deportivo Maldonado, a Uruguayan club that serves as a shady middle-man for transfer deals, nor that they had then immediately loaned him to La Real with a fixed obligation to buy. It came as no surprise, then, that City also failed to announce the sale of Rulli in January for a fee of around €7 million.

Rulli’s sale to Real Sociedad last month was surprisingly the most expensive incoming of a rather quiet transfer window in La Liga. It was a month of loans and cheap deals, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid keeping their wallets shut. Rulli’s €7 million switch from City to Sociedad was the biggest buy of the winter market in Spain, ahead of Walter Montoya’s €5.5 million move from from Rosario Central to Sevilla.

The Rulli saga has perplexed many, but there is a method to the madness for Manchester City. In each scenario, as explained here, the club can gain something – they already have, a quick profit.

Were they to exercise their buy-back clause, which runs until the summer of 2018, they would have to double what they sold him for. This is a financial loss on paper, but could still be seen as a gain if he continues to develop into a high-level goalkeeper at the Anoeta Stadium, and arrives at the Etihad. €14 million for a fully developed goalkeeper in the current market would be a coup.

If City decide not to use their option to buy the talented shot-stopper, they are said to have a 30% sell-on clause, which would entitle them to more profit in future.

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