Why success in City’s transfer window will be depend on sales as well as Haaland
Winning a football match isn’t just about scoring goals, it’s also about not conceding them. Similarly a transfer window isn’t just about who you bring in, it’s also about who leaves.
City have got off to a flyer with Erling Haaland and Julián Álvarez joining. Haaland will be the replacement for Aguero, and Álvarez is the versatile attacker to take the place of Jesus in the squad.
According to numerous reports by the more reliable City outlets, two other targets are Kalvin Phillips to replace Fernandinho and Marc Cucurella to replace Mendy, whose City career appears well and truly over no matter what happens in his court case.
If that’s all that happens, then City look well set for the upcoming season.
There’s just one issue, other players in the first team squad may be looking to leave. For the past couple of Covid affected summers, the transfer window has been relatively quiet due to reduced finances across the game. Added to that, City are a trophy winning team who pay well, which is generally enough to keep players happy.
This summer feels a bit different, with other clubs looking to spend. Spurs have found £150m, while Chelsea have new owners who will look to make an impact and Arteta continues to want City players at Arsenal. In Spain, Madrid will want to make up for missing out on Mbappe while Barca are looking for ways round their financial woes.
Pep’s stated belief that “any player who doesn’t want to be here can go” is a noble one, which also happens to be a green light for other clubs to enquire after our players via their agents.
While Haaland can be viewed as the final piece in the jigsaw, what if some of the other pieces are lost? Liverpool aren’t going away and City don’t want to be in a situation where a couple of injuries leave the equivalent of Fernandinho facing Vinicius Jnr in a key stage of the Champions League again.
City have a host of players who others covet, and there’s a variety of reasons for potential purchasers to believe they could be lured away this summer. Let’s list them, starting with the four who are entering the final year of their contract:
Gabriel Jesus – Looks sure to leave to gain regular game time, which he believes is unlikely at City with Haaland joining. Fair enough.
Raheem Sterling – At his age, he wants to be a main player and Pep doesn’t offer those guarantees.It’s looking unlikely that he’ll sign a new contract, so will City sell now if a decent offer is forthcoming (Chelsea / Madrid maybe) or will he see out the final year of his contract?
İlkay Gündoğan – Reportedly would like more game time, so may be willing to consider offers. At 31 a big contract extension is unlikely.
Riyad Mahrez – Another who is 31 and has been linked with a return to Paris. If PSG offer a big multi year contract, he may be tempted.
Bernardo Silva – Was said to want a sunnier climate last summer, but apparently is happier this year. This hasn’t stopped Barca casting admiring glances and his agent, Jorge Mendes was reportedly discussing a move. Last season Silva provided the energy, which de Bruyne and Gundogan lack, to make himself a key player in midfield. Would be a huge loss.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – at 25 he’s no longer a youngster and may seek more regular game time, particularly after he was used very sparingly by Pep last season. It could be argued Cucarella would replace him, but that leaves us with just the 3 recognised full-backs again. One injury leaves little option for rotation and Cancelo has been running on fumes by the end of the last two campaigns.
Nathan Ake – Unsurprisingly linked with Newcastle and a reunion with Eddie Howe. Very much fourth choice centre back and the question is whether he can make his peace with that.
So that’s seven members of the first team squad who may look to leave. Obviously not all will, but with potential purchasers more pro-active this summer, it’s quite possible some may be gone by the end of the window.
Personally I’d like them all to stay and keep a settled squad. Sterling, Gundogan, Mahrez and Silva would all require quality replacements who wouldn’t come cheap.
Presumably the club do have players in mind, but it still feels uncomfortable with the uncertainty over who might leave and when, and then who will still be available as a replacement. These days City tend to prefer a long planned transfer over a quick sale and purchase.
Cole Palmer is expected to have more of a role this season, but it would be unlike Pep to look at replacing the goals of Sterling with an academy product who’s yet to score in the Premier League. Remember how long he spent integrating Foden.
Another example, Jarrod Bowen has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Mahrez but Moyes would surely demand a fortune and he isn’t a player with the technical finesse of Mahrez.
Maybe Frenkie de Jong could replace Gündoğan, but City would need to get moving and he’d cost a lot more than we’d get for Gündoğan. There would also be the issue of new players acclimatising to the Pep way of things.
There are FIVE Premier League fixtures before the transfer window closes on 1st September. Hopefully the uncertainty around departures will be cleared up before then. I’d be happy for us to get Phillips and Cucurella in, wave farewell to Jesus, then hear Pep declare our business over, both incomings and outgoings.