What a week!
City Transfer Roundup
Danilo signed early on Sundat morning after only a week or so of the news breaking that City were interested. If only all transfers were like that…
Much has been made of Danilo under-performing at Real Madrid and how City are signing someone who, according to many, didn’t live up to the high standards at the Bernabeu. I too had doubts, and then I talked to @BrazilStats. (Yes, this is a shameless plug). But seriously, his perception that Guardiola’s play style might suit Danilo assured me a little. Only time will tell if Danilo comes good. Certainly, though, the proposition of the Brazilian providing cover in midfield is an attractive one and his signing allows Pep, a man notorious for his in-game flexibility, to change tactics and formations on the flip of a coin.
About twenty minutes after the announcement Benjamin Mendy put a picture on his Instagram boarding a flight to LA. Luckily, like the true Bert he is, he took the picture at an angle so that his flight number was visible, enabling those of us with too much free time to track his flight. Not that any respectable adult did that… yeah… I for one definitely did not have his flight open on my laptop all day. In any case, Blue Mendy was beautiful. Finally, we have a left back who has actual ability, actual promise, actual attacking threat, and actual defensive prowess. What a time to be alive.
Moreover, PSG, after seeming so confident of securing BOTH Alexis and Neymar, have, if current reports from France are correct, missed out on both of them. After poaching Alves from beneath our nose, this feels nice. The latest reports in England suggest that City are hoping for Alexis to put Paris off with his £500,000-a-week wage demands.
For the first time in a while City now have an almost complete squad. I still think we need another two or three, but technically the window hasn’t reached its halfway point yet and Pep and Txiki still have time to bring in a centre-back, another full-back and a forward, as rumours still swirl around Real Sociedad’s Iñigo Martínez.
After seven years, a road filled with twists, bumps, long distance shots and angst has finally come to an end. Aleksandar Kolarov has left City to reunite with Balkan pal Edin Džeko in Rome. While City did well to garnish a fee for Kolarov, it does leave us with a greater need to secure a centre-back. Christmas won’t be the same without his singing.
Fabian Delph, a player who has impressed on each of his performances between long-term injuries, has been heavily linked with Stoke. I like Delph, but he’s only made TEN league starts in two seasons- that’s not helpful. Fernando Reges looks like he’ll also be on his way out to Galatasaray if reports are correct. If both of these moves happen it will clear some of the deadwood in our squad, but it does perhaps present a future issue considering Gündoğan is injury prone and both Yaya and Fernandinho are coming towards the end of their careers. Room for Foden?
On Sunday, news broke across several outlets that some of the City players are frustrated with Nasri and his poor attitude, seemingly dashing any hopes of him staying. Wilfred Bony might finally be moving on too, back to his former club Swansea, though a ‘deal is far from complete’, and the prospective move to Leicester for Kelechi still hasn’t gone through. City’s summer is back on track only a few weeks after it was seemingly in total disarray and hopefully we can continue clearing out the remnant deadwood whilst acquiring new talent.
One Player in Depth:
On the subject of Danilo’s transfer to City many have laughed, many have pointed out that he was very much disliked by the Real Madrid fans. We even had a Leeds United fan on the Instagram account post several comments about how he wouldn’t even have Danilo at Leeds. But, as we asked @BrazilStats (here I go again with my plugs), *why* would Pep, Conte and Allegri chase Danilo if he was dreadful?
When Danilo signed for Real in 2015, Tim Vickery, the BBC’s South American football expert, spoke of the defender in the same sentence as Carlos Alberto and Cafu, stating Danilo was ‘an excellent all-rounder’. Danilo was one of the hottest prospects in world football and Real had to beat off interest from Barcelona to sign him. Obviously things haven’t panned out too well for him, yet Danilo has only just turned 26 and therefore has still got some years ahead of him. We’ve heard that he can play in several positions and did definitely improve last season. We’ll have to see how time goes but Danilo hasn’t even played yet and he’s been written off by other fans, which is just the way I like it.
This week’s transfer round up comes from Germany. The Bundesliga has gained a lot of plaudits in the past few years for their perceived love of promoting youth and the current surfeit of talent. But the league also takes a lot of stick for the fact the competition has probably been won already. Bayern, after losing the legends that are Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso, replaced Douglas Costa with Kingsley Coman who was previously on loan in Bavaria. They’ve picked up Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim for dirt cheap, and have bought Corentin Tolisso from Lyon. They also signed Serge Gnabry and immediately loaned him out, but secured a loan deal for James Rodriguez. More excellent signings from perhaps one of the best run clubs in football.
Borussia Dortmund, Germany’s typical next best side, have plundered their league rivals in a Bayern-esque style, picking up Mahmoud Dahoud, Omer Toprak and Maxi Philipp for around £30m collectively, and I think all three are very good purchases. Last year’s second placed club, ‘RasenBallsport’ Leipzig (a Red Bull marketing exercise) are by far the least popular club in Germany. In their debut Bundesliga season they impressed beyond all comprehension. Leipzig face a new task this year though, the task of having to play in the Champions League. They’ve thus far collected a few more young stars; notably Jean-Kevin Augustin from PSG and Bruma from Galatasaray, and the obvious, customary purchase of one of their sister club’s brightest stars, Red Bull Salzburg’s Konrad Laimer. However, Liverpool are very interested in one of their biggest stars, Naby Keita, and are bidding almost world record fees for him. Whatever happens, it’ll be very impressive if they replicate their domestic form next year whilst simultaneously spreading the glory of Red Bull Energy drinks in Europe.
Last year was a very interesting season in Germany, because most of the old traditional top sides endured terrible seasons. One of the teams in ascendancy was Hoffenheim, who as we discussed have already lost some of their best stars. Hoffenheim are also generally disliked in Germany, but in manager Julian Nagelsmann, who has just turned 30, they are led by a man widely regarded as one of the best managerial prospects in the world. So far though they’ve only signed Havard Nordtveit, Florian Grillitsch and loaned in Serge Gnabry, meaning they have a little work to do if they don’t want to get annihilated in their first ever Champions League participation.
Koln, who finished 5th in last year’s Bundesliga, look set to resume to their natural mid-table position after losing key man Anthony Modeste in the latest coup for the Chinese Super League. Modeste was absolutely key to Koln’s success last year and it’s difficult to see how new man, Jhon Cordoba of Mainz, will able to reproduce Modeste’s 25 goal season, especially in their upcoming Europa League adventure.
Turning our attention to one of last year’s losers, Wolfsburg, who narrowly avoided relegation but have invested heavily in John Brooks and Ignacio Camacho for a combined fee of around £25m. Leverkusen have picked up their second Bender twin, Sven, for around £15m, but have also secured Dominik Kohr from Augsburg for just a few million – a signing to watch out for. Schalke have signed former loanees Yevhen Konoplyanka and Nabil Bentaleb on full-time deals, and Borussia Mönchengladbach have secured a deal for Mathias Ginter and Vincenzo Grifo from domestic rivals, which should see them return back to vying with European places next year.
Back to England:
West Ham have spent big on two forwards, Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic. They are having an excellent summer. Chelsea have completed the mega-signing of Alvaro Morata, which will mean all of the top clubs have an extremely good forward, and the race for the golden boot will be fascinating.
Liverpool, like us, have needed a left-back for some time and have picked up Andy Robertson from Hull while still chasing Naby Keita and Virgil Van Dijk, who is currently training alone for Southampton in an attempt to force a move.
The whole of France has come to a standstill as PSG chase Neymar, though that seems to be a deal that is dying out after Gerard Pique’s iconic tweet. Olympique Marseille are trying to purchase another forward after bringing in Valerie Germain from Monaco, with both Moussa Dembele and Carlos Bacca appearing to be targets. In Italy, AC Milan haven’t bought any more players this week, though rumours are heating up that they want *another* forward. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nikola Kalinic and Andrea Belotti may be on the wishlist. Juventus have plundered Fiorentina for Federico Bernardeschi, who I’m sure will be a success after his exploits in Florence. Real Madrid have lost three back-ups in James, Morata and Danilo, while Barcelona have been paralysed by PSG’s chase of Neymar. A £72m bid for Coutinho has been lodged but Liverpool are holding firm. Another interesting week in the world of transfers.
Worst Rumour of the Week:
Unlike other weeks, there hasn’t been a particularly horrendous rumour this week. Agüero to Chelsea died, we’ve not been linked with any random players… But something that has happened has really highlighted the hilarity of the transfer window. Alexis was in Paris to sign his deal on Friday… until he wasn’t. And two days later, PSG have reportedly dropped out of the race. Funny, that! Wonder where he’ll be next week…