Despite being one of the highest profile clubs in European and world football that’s regularly challenging for major trophies, not even Manchester City can land every single transfer target.
With each passing window, prices for players and wage demands seem to go up. It means the process of acquiring new recruits is increasingly cut-throat and competitive. In light of that, here are six footballers Man City missed out on signing.
Frenkie de Jong
The most recent example of City not being able to get a deal done for an in-demand player is Dutch international Frenkie de Jong. While namesake and fellow deep-lying midfielder Nigel moved to the Etihad a decade ago from Hamburg after coming through the ranks at Ajax, this latest De Jong opted for Pep Guardiola’s former club Barcelona instead.
City’s interest in De Jong was motivated by the need for a long-term replacement for Fernandinho in the engine room. The Brazil anchor man turns 34 before the end of the season and, like any player, he can’t go on forever.
French champions PSG were also interested in De Jong, so a three-way scrap with one of the richest and most prestigious clubs in the world wasn’t something City could easily win. He’ll be at Barca from the start of next season, while Guardiola’s search for a new defensive midfielder continues with Declan Rice of West Ham among those linked.
Alexis Sanchez and Robin van Persie
Sometimes, no matter what you do, other clubs simply get sick and tired of selling their players to you. There was definitely a touch of this in City’s attempts to reunite Guardiola with Chile forward Alexis Sanchez in the January transfer window of 2018.
Over the last decade of long Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal, a well-trodden path for players who wanted to leave the Gunners but remain in the Premier League was to swap the Emirates for the Etihad. After losing the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and Kolo Toure to City, the North London club changed their stance starting with Robin van Persie.
It was no longer a question of every player had his price. The Arsenal hierarchy simply refused to sell first Netherlands striker van Persie and more recently Sanchez to City. Both still ended up in Manchester, but on the other side of town at United with the latter earning massive wages.
Brazil centurion and right back Dani Alves is another to have played for Pep at Barcelona like Sanchez. When Guardiola wanted to change the full backs at his disposal and Alves’ Juventus deal was torn up a year early in the summer of 2017, it looked for all the world that he would link up again with his old Nou Camp coach.
At the eleventh hour, however, PSG made their own bid to snatch Alves from right under City’s noses. It was a blow for Guardiola and he turned to the versatile Danilo instead. Alves won the Champions League three times during eight years at Barcelona, but it’s City who are 3/1 favourites with Betway to win Europe’s elite club competition this term as of 30 January.
World Cup winning France midfielder Paul Pogba is one of the biggest names in the game right now, and left United under a cloud in 2012 after famously falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson. He then flourished at Juventus, but rumours of a Premier League return never went away.
After lifting Serie A four times in as many seasons, Pogba had conquered Italy and had the world at his feet during the summer of 2016. City were naturally in the running for his signature, but that sense of unfinished business at a much-changed United since Ferguson’s departure lured Pogba back to Old Trafford.
In many ways, he would have been an ideal replacement for the ageing Yaya Toure at the time, but City already had Kevin De Bruyne on their books. Pogba has shown flashes of his Juve form in the Premier League, but also fell out with Jose Mourinho before the Red Devils sacked him.
Returning to that theme of seeking long-term replacements for Fernandinho, City thought they may have the answer in going back to the same source. As his move from Ukranian club Shakhtar Donetsk worked out so well, Fred was another Brazilian they had their eye on.
This where some stories vary. Certain reports claim like Pogba, however, he chose United instead where he has struggled to make an impact under Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, there were also rumours that Guardiola cooled interest in Fred. Either way they didn’t land him.