Manchester City’s summer 2018 transfer window will go down as one of the least eventful in the post-takeover era for incomings and big signings, with just one major deal done.
Riyad Mahrez arrived from Leicester City for £60million, but beyond that no one was added to an already talented first-squad after two years of accelerated spending to provide Pep Guardiola with the players he required.
For transfer enthusiasts though, there was plenty going on throughout the transfer window with fifty players on record as leaving the club either permanently or on loan (although one quickly came back – but we’ll get to that!).
So it’s time for an overview of the summer window and the fifty-eight known deals involving the club that were done.
ONE BIG ARRIVAL AND INVESTMENTS FOR THE FUTURE
As everyone knows, Riyad Mahrez arrived for £60million after protracted negotiations that continued from January, one of two strategic targets Pep Guardiola wanted to bolster an already formidable squad. Despite giving him no guarantee of starts due to the incredible depth City have on the flanks, City were willing to break their club record for the Algerian who is still settling into life under Guardiola.
City had wanted a central midfielder, a ‘6’, to rotate with and eventually succeed Fernandinho, while also replacing Yaya Touré. On that front they failed, with the painfully long Jorginho saga ending with the pass master instead joining his mentor Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. There were links with some big names in the aftermath of that disappointment, such as Miralem Pjanić of Juventus and wantaway Real Madrid player Mateo Kovacic (who ALSO joined Chelsea), but either the right man for Guardiola wasn’t available or there just wasn’t enough time to do a deal.
The second-biggest investment of the summer was for promising Dutch defender Philippe Sandler, who arrived from PEC Zwolle for around £2.7million after a deal was agreed in January. There were plans for the 21-year-old to head out on loan, but after undergoing surgery in late May, he remains in Manchester to recover and depending on how soon he is back, could make some Carabao Cup appearances.
Australian sensation Daniel Arzani arrived from sister club Melbourne City for £800,000 but was immediately loaned out and the signs are that he is a for-profit investment and like another who came from the land down under, Aaron Mooy, can expect to be sold on in the next couple of years.
Five other players arrived – at least that we know about – all aged between 16 and 18 and all additions to a youth system that is now producing some of the best talent around. The Premier League champions paid a considerable £700,000 for forward Ben Knight from Ipswich Town, a player scouts had been tracking for a long time and finally landed when their ban on signing domestic youths ended this summer.
The most hyped of the youth acquisitions was Claudio Gomes, another player, like Sandler, who a deal had been struck for long before the summer transfer window arrived. Gomes saw out his contract at Paris Saint-Germain, meaning City did not have to negotiate directly with the Ligue 1 giants, and he arrived upon turning 18 this summer. Gomes has been placed in the Elite Development Squad, but may show up in Carabao Cup games after Guardiola spoke highly of him during pre-season.
Another player who showed promise in his pre-season cameo was 17-year-old Adrián Bernabé, the latest to arrive from Barcelona’s famed La Masia, which is seeing more and more talents leave for bigger money and new opportunities abroad. In Bernabé, City may have a future star, but as always with teen prospects, we wait and see.
Jayden Braaf was the last player to arrive, another who refused to sign a new contract with his former club, PSV Eindhoven, and he joined City at the end of August on the day he turned 16.
One lesser known arrival was Irish defender Timi Sobowale, a 16-year-old centre-back recruited from Villa FC who was brought over to England by former Republic of Ireland international Stephen Hunt.
Quick ‘n Dirty: Eight players (that we know of) arrived at Manchester City, only one of them a major signing, and the rest cheap investments and youth players. The total spend was in the region of £64million (excluding future add-ons).
OUTGOINGS… FIFTY (YES, FIFTY) OF THEM
The most high-profile outgoings of the summer were two key members of the new era of success, Yaya Touré and Joe Hart.
Touré returned to Olympiacos in Greece, despite talk of a stay in England, for a second spell with a club he was previously at from 2005 until 2006. He headed a seven-man list of players released by Manchester City that also included Demeaco Duhaney (who has joined Huddersfield), Will Patching (Notts County), Erik Sarmiento (Espanyol), Marcus Wood (Bolton), Sadou Diallo (Wolves) and Polish goalkeeper Paweł Sokół (Korona Kielce).
Hart ended a decade-plus stay at City with a permanent move to Burnley following loan spells at Torino and West Ham. The early signs are that Joe, who left in a £3.5million deal, is settling in well under Sean Dyche and eyeing an England recall.
Another goalkeeper left the club this summer for an even bigger fee that Hart’s, with the talented Angus Gunn joining Southampton for an initial £10million that could rise to £13.5million with add-ons. The England under-21 international could genuinely have made the breakthrough at City but for the outstanding Ederson, who looks certain to monopolise the number one spot for many years to come.
Gunn was one of several exciting young prospects sold off for considerable fees with buy-back clauses included in the deals. The sell with buy-back clause strategy seems to be replacing the old ‘loan them out forever’ policy and looks to be the right way forward.
German club VfB Stuttgart broke their club record to sign Pablo Maffeo from City for £8.8million, his fellow Spanish full-back Angeliño headed to PSV Eindhoven for around £4.4million, and after being stuck in the loan system for a number of years, 8-cap Belgian international Jason Denayer joined City’s next Champions League opponents Lyon for an initial £5.8million rising to £9million.
Dutch youth international Rodney Kongolo returned to his homeland with sc Heerenveen for £750,000, Kosovo international Bersant Celina, who some thought had a chance of making the breakthrough at City, joined Swansea for £3.5million, and highly-rated midfielder Jacob Davenport headed to Blackburn for an undisclosed six-figure fee with City including a sell-on clause.
City lost two out-of-contract players, including another Dutch youth international Javairô Dilrosun who joined Hertha BSC in the Bundesliga, and the exciting 17-year-old Bobby Duncan, cousin of Steven Gerrard, who unsurprisingly moved to Liverpool. It is thought that City received £200,000 in compensation for both departing players.
Four of City’s Englishmen left, after years at the club, for small or non-existent transfer fees, with Kean Bryan continuing his career at Sheffield United, Ashley Smith-Brown joining Plymouth Argyle, Isaac Buckley-Ricketts heading to Peterborough United, and Ash Kigbu deciding on a foreign adventure with Wolfsberger AC in the Austrian Bundesliga.
The new strategy of selling more young players with buy-back clauses meant there was a smaller percentage of loan deals this summer, but plenty still left the Etihad on temporary switches, including Douglas Luiz who had to return to Girona FC when City couldn’t acquire a work permit – much to Pep Guardiola’s annoyance.
Lukas Nmecha, one of City’s brightest prospects, joined Brandon Barker on loan at Preston North End in the Championship, while Tosin Adarabioyo headed to relegated West Brom with little prospect of featuring for City this season with Laporte, Stones, Kompany and Otamendi fighting for places.
The two Garcías, Manu García and Aleix García, were again relocated, with Manu joinined Toulouse in France and like Douglas Luiz, Aleix returning to Girona FC for a second season at the Estadi Montilivi. Aleix and Douglas were joined by English winger Patrick Roberts, who finally left his comfort zone with Celtic by heading to the La Liga side.
England under-21 winger Jack Harrison linked up with Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds for the season and Thierry Ambrose, despite being on the radar of some notable Ligue 1 clubs, moved to RC Lens in France’s second division.
Replacing Brandon Barker at Hibernian in Scotland was Thomas Agyepong, the lightning fast Ghanaian winger heading up north on loan, while Mancunian defender Charlie Oliver moved to Brentford’s B team on loan until January.
City sent two of their academy players to the Netherlands on loan, but not NAC Breda as you might expect. Matt Smith, who has is already a full Welsh international, joined relegated FC Twente and Ed Francis headed to Almere City. Both teams play in the Jupiler League, Dutch football’s second division.
NAC Breda, City’s official Dutch partner club, received four players on loan – but one of those deals had to be cut short quickly. After just one competitive appearance, goalkeeper Aro Muric returned from NAC to City following Claudio Bravo’s injury and is now acting as back-up to Ederson.
20-year-old Spaniard Paolo Fernandes was the only one of last year’s NAC loan crew to return to the Rat Verlegh Stadion, and he was joined by USA international Erik Palmer-Brown and promising Serbia under-21 midfielder Luka Ilić. Luka’s younger brother Ivan Ilić, 17, returned to Red Star Belgrade on loan and is expected to be sent elsewhere in a year’s time.
City’s loan options seem to have expanded with two players sent to AFC Tubize, a club in Belgium’s second division. Tubize, who were linked with a CFG takeover earlier in the year, took French-born winger Aaron Nemane and Ghanaian midfielder Ernest Agyiri on a double loan deal from the Etihad.
Another Ghanaian player joining Tubize was Divine Naah, but his move was permanent following the expiration of his City contract. Naah was one of three African talents sold by the club this summer, with Yaw Yeboah switching to CD Numancia in Spain’s Segunda División and 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup winner, Chidiebere Nwakali, joining Polish second division club Raków Częstochowa.
Part of City’s strategy in the transfer market has led to them making investments to either strengthen City Football Group partner clubs or to loan out and eventually profit on. They have done this with success in recent years, profiting on the likes of Aaron Mooy, Rubén Sobrino and Florian Lejeune.
Daniel Arzani was undoubtedly this summer’s main investment on the CFG front and after his £800,000 move from Melbourne City, he was immediately sent to Celtic on a two-year loan deal. Reports from Australia claim the Scottish champions have an option to buy him at the end of that, and undoubtedly City will add further clauses to that to get the most out of their investment.
One of last year’s off-the-radar signings, Olarenwaju ‘Larry’ Kayode, turned his loan move to Shakhtar Donetsk into a permanent deal, signing for the Ukrainian giants a year after his £3.5million arrival from Austria Wien. The fee was undisclosed but we can assume City at least got their outlay back on the Nigerian international.
Anthony Cáceres and Luke Brattan returned to Melbourne City on loan, two players City seem content not to cash in on and instead use to strengthen their partner club in Australia.
After a fine spell at NAC Breda, Spanish defender Pablo Marí returned to Spain by joining Deportivo de La Coruña on loan, while American midfielder Mix Diskerud, an unexpected signing in the January transfer window, made the bold career choice to join South Korean club Ulsan Hyundai on loan. This was the first time City have ever done business with a club in Korea and you wonder if a sponsorship deal may come of it.
Quick ‘n Dirty: 14 sold, 11 out of contract or gone on free transfers/compensation, 25 loans (and 1 quickly recalled!). The total income is unknown due to undisclosed fees, but we estimate at least £40million (excluding future add-ons and any loan fees).
COULDA, SHOULDA, DIDN’T…
So we know of fifty players who at some point passed through the Etihad departure lounge this summer – but it could have been even more. Oleksandr Zinchenko had his bags packed and was due for a medical at Wolves ahead of a £16million move, but changed his mind on deadline day. Then Real Betis came in for him with a loan-to-buy offer, but City refused to accept any less than what Wolves had offered and the babyfaced Ukrainian will stick around until January at least.
Girona waited until Spain’s deadline day for Brahim Díaz, who didn’t fancy a loan move away and will instead stick with Guardiola’s squad. Was that the right decision for Brahim? Only time will tell, but he will be fortunate to make any appearances outside of the Carabao Cup with City’s wealth of attacking talent.
As mentioned, Philippe Sandler, the second-most expensive signing of the summer, was originally due to go out on loan – probably to a high-ranking Eredivisie side – but his recovery from surgery made it impossible. The same goes for Eliaquim Mangala, who has resisted permanent exits from the club in the past and this year avoided leaving due to his recovery from a long-term injury. City now face losing the £42million defender on a free transfer next summer.
And of course, Aro Muric did leave on loan then had to come back, and now finds himself as City’s second-choice goalkeeper when he had expected to be spending the season at NAC Breda.
The transfer window is now closed across Europe but it won’t be too long until we’re talking about January 2019 and what business Txiki Begiristain might seek to do.
This January, City knew the summer market would be difficult because of the World Cup and other factors, and were open to doing as much business as possible. Aymeric Laporte was successfully brought in from Athletic Bilbao, and there were approaches for Riyad Mahrez and Fred, neither with any success.
It may be pessimistic to say, but Fernandinho hasn’t looked at his sharpest in the early stages of the season and there must be doubts about if he can manage another 50-plus game season in the position he has made his own. With that in mind, it’s quite possible City will look to recruit another holding midfielder in January – if the right man is out there. Wolves hot-shot Rúben Neves is the latest name on the rumour mill and certainly won’t be the last once winter arrives.
Otherwise, unless of any major injuries, don’t expect any major business in January. Next summer could be a different matter, with Pep Guardiola having hinted that the Blues may be more active in 2019. With Silva, Aguero and Kompany getting no younger, it would be no surprise if there were some bombshell signings next year…
ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT IT
Too many names in this article? Here is our database of all the transfers in summer 2018 for you.
|Riyad Mahrez||AM||27||Leicester City||£60m|
|Philippe Sandler||CB||21||PEC Zwolle||£2.6m|
|Daniel Arzani||AM||19||Melbourne City||£800k|
|Ben Knight||FW||16||Ipswich Town||£700k|
|Timi Sobowale||CB||16||Villa FC||Undisc.|
|Claudio Gomes||CM||18||Paris Saint-Germain||Free|
|Jayden Braaf||FW||16||PSV Eindhoven||Free|
|Pablo Maffeo||RB||20||VfB Stuttgart||£8.8m|
|Bersant Celina||AM||21||Swansea City||£3m|
|Rodney Kongolo||CM||20||sc Heerenveen||£750k|
|Javairô Dilrosun||AM||20||Hertha BSC||£200k|
|Olarenwaju Kayode||FW||25||Shakhtar Donetsk||Undisc.|
|Ashley Smith-Brown||LB||22||Plymouth Argyle||Undisc.|
|Chidiebere Nwakali||CM||21||Raków Częstochowa||Undisc.|
|Yaw Yeboah||AM||21||CD Numancia||Undisc.|
|Isaac Buckley-Ricketts||AM||20||Peterborough United||Undisc.|
|Ash Kigbu||CB||19||Wolfsberger AC||Undisc.|
|Jacob Davenport||CM||19||Blackburn Rovers||Undisc.|
|Divine Naah||CM||22||AFC Tubize||Free|
|Kean Bryan||CB||21||Sheffield United||Free|
|Will Patching||CM||19||Notts County||Free|
|Demeaco Duhaney||RB||19||Huddersfield Town||Free|
|Paweł Sokół||GK||18||Korona Kielce||Free|
|Luke Brattan||CM||28||Melbourne City||Loan|
|Mix Diskerud||CM||27||Ulsan Hyundai||Loan|
|Anthony Cáceres||CM||25||Melbourne City||Loan|
|Pablo Marí||CB||24||Deportivo de La Coruña||Loan|
|Aro Muric||GK||21||NAC Breda||Loan|
|Erik Palmer-Brown||CB||21||NAC Breda||Loan|
|Aleix García||CM||21||Girona FC||Loan|
|Patrick Roberts||AM||21||Girona FC||Loan|
|Jack Harrison||AM||21||Leeds United||Loan|
|Brandon Barker||AM||21||Preston North End||Loan|
|Thierry Ambrose||FW||21||RC Lens||Loan|
|Tosin Adarabioyo||CB||20||West Brom||Loan|
|Charlie Oliver||CB||20||Brentford B||Loan|
|Douglas Luiz||CM||20||Girona FC||Loan|
|Ernest Agyiri||CM||20||AFC Tubize||Loan|
|Manu García||AM||20||Toulouse FC||Loan|
|Aaron Nemane||AM||20||AFC Tubize||Loan|
|Paolo Fernandes||AM||19||NAC Breda||Loan|
|Lukas Nmecha||FW||19||Preston North End||Loan|
|Matt Smith||CM||18||FC Twente||Loan|
|Edward Francis||CB||18||Almere City||Loan|
|Luka Ilić||CM||18||NAC Breda||Loan|
|Ivan Ilić||CM||17||Red Star Belgrade||Loan|