It’s been a crazy week or two in the Manchester City transfer world. Two weeks ago we had no idea what was really going to happen, with the exception of Rodrigo maybe being the target for the elusive defensive midfield position. Since then, there’s been a rush of information as player updates have started to slowly drip feed out of the club.
So, in varying levels of detail, it’s time to offer my definitely-professional and definitely-not-Football-Manager-led opinion of how the transfer window is potentially shaping up for the club alongside my personal opinion of what I think we should do. So strap yourself in, keep your arms and legs inside at all times, it’s going to be a wild ride!
What is apparently happening: The stance on the left-back position has changed entirely in the last week, with the word originally being that Ben Chilwell was target numero uno, as the club had decided that Benjamin Mendy has been on seventeen nights out too many and is effectively a lost cause. Artetea, Kompany and even his lovely Portuguese BFF, Bernardo Silva, have each tried to speak to Mendy individually with very little success and the club had apparently decided it was time for him to move on.
Now, however, it has emerged that the club are willing to back the Frenchman, at least until January. The club has either suddenly decided that Mendy is actually a level-headed professional who will remain injury-free (despite the fact he’s going to be out for the rest of the season once again), or, as Sam Lee suggests, they need the money to go elsewhere. Also Delph is leaving.
What I think we should do: We should probably actually buy a left-back, but I don’t strongly disagree with the idea that we wait until January if the funds need to be invested somewhere else. I’ve not watched enough of Chilwell to have a strong enough opinion to know whether he’d drastically improve our first choice XI, however if Zinchenko can be our first choice and Mendy’s game time can be managed as a back-up, this is also fine. If it goes terribly wrong, we buy Chilwell in January if nobody else has already taken him.
What is apparently happening: Nicolas Otamendi wants out. He’s not happy with Pep picking and choosing when he starts games and wants to go to a club where the game time will be more akin to his 2017/18 season with City than his 2018/19 one. It’s easy to forget with his relatively regular appearances in the last few months but he went about 10-15 games at the start of the season without making a single appearance and there were rumours of him leaving at that time and, it appears that without every game being a guaranteed start since then, he’s decided that he wants to get the most football out of his career while he still can. Pep isn’t one to keep players who don’t want to be here, so he’s pretty much guaranteed to leave this summer.
This leaves City in a bit of an odd situation. With Stones and Laporte as our obvious starting pair if Otamendi is out of the equation, this leaves us with just Kompany, who will surely be playing his final year of football for City (assuming he does get an extension, which looks almost certain), and Garcia, a player far too young and too small to be given any real Premier League responsibility, as back-ups. The club therefore has a choice to make – go for an Alderweireld kind of signing, relatively cheap and with only a few years at the top level before another top, young talent emerges, or go balls-deep on a big-money signing like Matthijs De Ligt and see my Football Manager dreams realised.
What I think we should do: Gazump Barcelona and rob them of Matthijs De Ligt. They’ve already taken one of the fundamental pillars of this Ajax team, they can’t have two. De Ligt is the Mbappé of central defenders – a one off, generational talent that we’re probably not going to see again for a good long time. We’d be fools to let him go to Barcelona if there’s any chance that we can sway him to join us, Mino Raiola be damned.
Assuming De Ligt is entirely out of the question then I honestly haven’t got any names that immediately spring to mind, mainly because we’ve not been linked with anyone. Alderweireld would be an ideal signing to be a stop-gap until such a name did arise but, either way, we’re almost certainly going to be in the centre-back market next summer as well as this one when Kompany inevitably retires.
What is apparently happening: Danilo, much like Otamendi before him, wants to leave to secure more first-team football. Honestly, I don’t blame him. He’s been benched far too much for a player of his quality, I’m rather controversially of the opinion that he’s a more complete right-back than Kyle Walker, as he offers much more intelligent play going forwards and a lot more conviction defensively. He’s less of an athlete, which I suppose is the biggest factor when playing the high-line we tend to play as the recover pace of Walker makes up for any flaws he may have.
So, with him departing, who will the club bring in?
Nobody, apparently. No links, no suggestions, nothing. There are obvious choices (well, one obvious choice), yet no idea that we have anything even lined up.
What I think we should do: Sign Aaron Wan-Bissaka, no matter what the cost. He’s great, he’s young, he’s English. He’s going to leave Palace this summer and United and Arsenal are the clubs with the strongest link to him – are you telling me that we wouldn’t be able to blow both of those teams out of the water if we wanted to?
What is apparently happening: We’re gonna sign Rodri, unless he does a Dani Alves/Alexis Sanchez/Jorginho level snubbing at the last minute and signs a new contract with Atléti.
What I think we should do: Sign Rodri, unless he does a Dani Alves/Alexis Sanchez/Jorginho level snubbing at the last minute and signs a new contract with Atléti.
What is apparently happening: Nobody’s really sure. Ilkay Gundogan hasn’t yet signed a new contract as, similar to Otamendi, he’s looking for more assurances on his future game time. This has split opinion amongst the fans, as there’s a school of thought that he owes us a bit more loyalty, as we signed him when he was already suffering from a serious knee injury and then he was hit by yet another one in his first season with the club. Despite this, we’ve stuck with him and, with other smaller injuries affecting him along the way, we’re finally starting to get the best out of him. Regardless, if we get to the end of the season and he’s still not made his mind up or has outright refused to sign a contract, we need to think about selling him on and replacing him.
In terms of replacement, there’s been an influx of reports coming out of Portugal that Sporting’s central midfielder, Bruno Fernandes, is very much on Txiki’s radar, with City apparently ready to spend €70 million on the player. With Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and a 33-going-on-34 year old David Silva as the only remaining central midfielders should Gundogan leave (though Bernardo obviously has the ability to play there, yet the last few months have proved that his influence out wide is incredibly important), it’s a no-brainer that we have to get somebody else in to cover this missing spot.
What I think we should do: Ideally, I’d like us to keep Gundogan. He’s shown his quality this season in particular, however annoyingly most of his great performances have come from playing the #6 role, which is a position we’ll hopefully already be filling up with Rodri. KDB playing alongside a rotation of Gundogan and Foden should be the obvious starting choice next season, with Silva taking up a much more reserved role within the squad, starting only occasionally rather than playing three games a week with regularity.
If Gundogan were to leave, however, Bruno Fernandes does seem a good replacement. I’ve seen little to nothing of him actually playing, however the stats he’s produced (albeit in the Portuguese League) in terms of pure goals and assists is nothing to sniff at. At the age of 24, he’s the perfect age for the squad we’re building for the next 5+ years.
What is apparently happening: Nothing but not totally nothing. Sam Lee wrote a post on this thread on the r/MCFC subreddit, briefly detailing what he knows about the transfer plans so far. The first paragraph is particularly interesting, as he mentions that he knows City want a #9, yet the only reason that they’d ever realistically want one is if Gabriel Jesus is going to leave. As he says, Guardiola had become disillusioned with Jesus back in December after his terrible post-World Cup form when called upon, yet he’s had a glut of goals since then and it’s unknown what the stance is now.
We’ve had links with Luka Jovic, though those links have disappeared in the last few months and a Tier 1 source for Real Madrid news says that Jovic expects to be joining Zidane’s team in the summer. However, we’ve also had links with Joao Felix, who might not be a traditional #9 but he’s been playing a lot of games as a second striker for Benfica recently, as well as being able to play out wide. He’s yet another player who would fulfil my Football Manager fever dreams and his form this season has been unbelievable, almost an Mbappé-esque rise in the Portuguese League. Having said that, Sam Lee appears to have no information regarding Felix and City won’t spend the €120 million required to activate his release clause, which you could easily imagine multiple other clubs doing.
What I think we should do: Keep Gabriel Jesus around for one more season. With a full summer’s rest, he should be able to get his head together and return for a full pre-season. He might even be able to learn the offside rule over the summer. We’ve got to remember that he’s still scored 19 goals this season as a back-up, however he’s scored 7 of them in 2 games, 4 of which were against Burton Albion.
He’s a great player and will undeniably shine wherever he goes – however he’s three years into his City career and is no closer to displacing Aguero, admittedly a resurgent Aguero who’s playing some of the best football of his career, than he was when he joined. If anything he’s probably further away. Aguero has risen to the challenge whilst Jesus either hasn’t or can’t. He’s started 8 Premier League games this season which can’t be keeping him happy.
I don’t want him to leave, I don’t think he will leave, but Sam Lee is getting the impression that we’re looking at a forward from somewhere, so I wouldn’t entirely rule it out. If he does leave, Joao Felix is the player to go for. And not just because of Football Manager. Honest.
Out: Danilo, Otamendi, Gundogan, Jesus (maybe)
In: Wan-Bissaka, Matthijs de Ligt/Alderweireld, Rodri, Fernandes, Felix (maybe)
Do you agree? Good, please tell me I’m right on Twitter, I enjoy being validated. Do you disagree? Please feel free to violently tell me I’m wrong on Twitter, it entertains me!