City’s Spending & Transfer Strategy – Summer 2017

*** UPDATE: 27th June 2017*** – If you’re only here to read the latests bit about City’s summer transfers, then scroll towards the bottom of the article. However, if you’re interested in understanding how the whole summer transfer window has been planned out by Pep and the City board, please read the whole article.

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As has been widely reported, Manchester City have got to work early in terms of recruitment this summer. They’ve signed Bernardo Silva, they’ve now confirmed the signing of Ederson Moares and are close to completing other deals as we speak. However, just looking at what we know so far, it’s clear that there still is a lot of business left to do.

The Planning

The departures of first teamers Pablo Zabaleta, Willy Caballero, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Jesus Navas, as well youth players, Billy O’Brien and Enes Unal, have freed up plenty of space in the squad, and more importantly the wage budget. Having spent last season out on loan, Joe Hart, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri and Ellaquim Mangala also look set to leave. There’s also questions over the futures of Jason Denayer, Nolito, and Kelechi Iheanacho, as City are willing to allow these players to leave, providing the right offer comes in.

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Soriano, Pep, Khaldoon and Txiki have been working on City’s transfer strategy for a long time.

All of this movement is part of a the obvious and necessary overhaul, as Pep Guardiola looks to shape the squad into his own and enable the team to mount a genuine challenge on all fronts next season. You only need to look at the recent interview with chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak to realise that City are aiming even higher going forward. However, whilst obviously it’s important for City to get the team right in terms of personnel, the considerable level of movement that’s taking place this summer is also part of the club’s restructure and re-organisation of the wage book. Whilst UEFA’s Financial “Fair Play” policy may be virtually dead and buried, City are a profitable club and are financially strong enough to be able to sanction transfers without Sheikh Mansour opening his personal wallet, so to speak. The transformation of the club, from where it was nine years ago to where it is today, is a commendable achievement which will continue to be overlooked. In order to further this success, Txiki Begiristain has been working on a new performance-related player contract scheme in recent months which will keep City’s financial trajectory heading in the right direction.

Why is all this important? Well, if City want to be able to attract all of their primary targets, they need to both be able to afford the transfer fees, but also offer the player (and in most cases, their agent) lucrative deals. It’s not just a case of being able to throw money at the modern footballer, it’s about be able to ensure that the player arrives and settles in quickly. This means that the club need to be able to offer non-financial bonuses in the contracts that they put out. For example, if the player has kids, the club need to be able to dangle the opportunity of a good local school being available for the player to put his kids in – St Bede’s College and it’s partners have coincidentally started making a mint. In some cases, if the player’s wife or girlfriend is looking for a job, the club arranges for a career advisers and assistance. It’s fair to say that the landscape of football recruitment has changed.

Speculation Is Rife

City’s interest in their summer transfer targets has been known in the main for several months, or at least the media claim to have known. The signing of Bernardo Silva took many people, including most City fans by surprise, because there were no leaks, there was no expected bid. The first most heard of the deal being possible was on the day that the transfer was confirmed by City. In fact hours before the deal was confirmed, there were still a number of media outlets reporting that the player was going to Manchester United. However, in the main, when a club has an interest in a player, it’s often that the information gets out.

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City’s second signing, Ederson, had been wanted by the club since the turn of the year and it wasn’t really much of a secret. Aside from reports of City monitoring the player, Ederson also started following and liking the club’s Instagram posts in March. Dead giveaway.

Whilst speculation, and the idea that there’s no smoke without fire, can sometimes lead to something, in recent months it’s been nonsensical. The talk of James Rodriguez going to United (and the fact that SkyBet, BetFred and Coral stopped taking bets on him joining United) all comes from the fact that Jorge Mendes was spotted flying into Manchester Airport. However, he was visiting City, there’s no evidence that he met with united at all, the papers and Sky just went into meltdown because they assumed he was meeting to arrange for James Rodriguez to go to united.

City’s interest in AS Monaco players has caused the press to concoct plenty of stories too, as the sight of City representatives at Monaco games sprung stories of interest in at least seven different players; clearly playing guessing games. There’s been talk of Fabinho being a player City (several journalists on both sides of the Channel, including French outlet TeléFoot, even tweeted that the deal was complete) have long sought to sign. Yet in the last couple of weeks the tune changed and the stories are that he’s going to United.

Manchester City FC v AS Monaco - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Kylian M’bappé was an outstanding talent during this season’s Champions League campaign and this has meant that City, and virtually every club in Europe, have been linked to him. One article even said that City had bid £131m for the player, but he turned City down because he “only wants Real”. However, it’s worth noting that this article was published in Marca, which is “sympathetic” to Real Madrid to say the least. Regardless of this ridiculous fabrication, at the time of writing this, it’s important to note that whether or not City are interested in the player, they have not made any offer for M’bappé.

One Man Can Make A Summer – Agents Are Still Key

If you look at the players that have been linked to City this summer, Fabinho, William Carvalho, as well as Ederson and Bernardo Silva, there’s a theme…

One man? Well there’s one man who is key to all of this, he’s the reason there’s so many rumours and the reason why all of these deals are possible… The guy I’m talking about is Jorge Mendes, he’s and the association he works for (GestiFute) are the agent for all of these players (with the exception of Carvalho, but I’ll get to that in a second), as well as being the agent for Mangala, Otamendi, Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Di Maria.

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How many phones has he got there?

Jorge Mendes was reportedly at the final game of City’s season (against West Bromich Albion), and it’s understood that City had been working with him to try and secure a move for Mangala seemingly to Valencia, because City want to try and make nearly £100m this summer in transfer fees in order to help fund their purchases.

Players the club are open to selling: Nasri, Mangala, Nolito, Denayer, Fernando, Hart, Bony, Barker, Aaron Mooy, Angeliño, Enes Unal (sold to Villarreal €14m), Ruben Sobrino, David Faupala and Iheanacho will leave if the right offer comes in.

Jord Mendes had also been with club officials discussing City’s efforts to sign Fabinho and Ederson. From what we can make from reliable sources, the speculation that City were after Pepe and William Cavalho is just what the papers have thrown together when grasping at straws. It’s true that Jorge Mendes used to be William Carvalho’s agent, but that changed not so long ago, and his new agent is actually Perre Guardiola, Pep’s brother. So why the media seem to think Mendes meeting with City means William Carvalho is on his way to the Etihad is just uneducated speculation.

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Fabinho is also of interest to Manchester United and the bookies seem to think that’s his likeliest destination. That’s not to say City have given up. He has been a target for City for a long time. That said, the interest is

Anyway, apparently Ederson deal was scheduled to be announced at the very start of June, but City hadn’t been able to conclude the deal as quickly as they’d hoped because of third party ownership issues. The deal took longer than expected and required ratification from the Premier League, due to the diligence surrounding third party ownership deals. Given the recent transfer controversies reported in the papers, of which the Premier League and the FA have been implicated, and the fact the transfer window doesn’t officially open yet, there’s been no rush for the Premier League to ratify the deal. So City fans had to wait a while longer for confirmation on City’s part.

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Benjamin Mendy is on international duty, hence his social media teaser posts of a supposed Manchester-bound private jet being followed with a video of him in Paris. It seemed to wind a few City fans up. There’s a good chance that the deal for him to move to City is close. From everything we’ve heard & what’s been reported, it’s believed that the club and player have agreed personal terms, but the transfer between the two clubs isn’t resolved. Put it this way, Mendy wouldn’t have mentioned Manchester on social media, if he wasn’t interested in coming here. If something wasn’t close, he would have been advised by the clubs and his personal advisers to delete that post, but he didn’t delete it, so I’d take that as a good sign that he’s interested in coming here. There have been recent reports in the English newspapers that City have baulked at the €40m price tag that Monaco have slapped on the player. However, the message from the top has been clear, City will spend what it takes to get their primary targets this summer, so if they really want him, they won’t be put off by the price.

The fact that GestiFute and Mendes are so closely tied to City’s main transfer targets, means that City have had to do a fair bit of schmooshing in recent months! For instance, it was agreed that GestiFute would (and now have) pocket 8% of the transfer for Ederson to Manchester City.

In other City related transfer news…

It’s understood that Kyle Walker‘s move to City is pretty much a done deal and that’s the main reason he’d not really featured for Spurs the last few weeks of the season and the reason behind his “Thank You” post on social media.

Goalkeeper Angus Gunn will go on a season-long loan to Norwich next season.

‪Galatasaray have opened talks about in signing Oleksandr Zinchencko on loan‬. The Ukrainian International spent last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven, but didn’t get much of a look in. A move to the Turkish league might give him more game time. City want to retain the right to recall him from the loan spell during the course of the season, if required, but Galatasaray are apparently put off by the idea.

Bersant Celina is expected to complete a loan move to Ipswich Town in the coming days. He spent last season on loan at FC Twente in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Aaron Mooy spent last season on loan at Huddersfield; he was their player of the season and helped secure promotion to the Premier League. It’s understood that a fee of £9m (which could rise to £12.5m, subject to due to Sell-ons and appearance fees) has been agreed between City and Huddersfield Town. City have also been keen to include a buy-back option as part of the deal. The deal is expected to be completed before the end of June.

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The future of Tosin Adarabioyo is now clear, he has now signed a new deal at City, keeping him at the club until 2021.

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The big talk in the January transfer window was that Virgil van Dijk was a primary target for City and whilst that’s believable, the £60m price tag makes you question how good he is. Liverpool are apparently not bothered by that figure though and he latest news is that Southampton were unhappy with the Anfield club’s approach to the player. Liverpool have since stated that they’ve “cooled” their interest.

From a City perspective, you have to look at it this way; he’s not a home grown player, he has suffered a significant injury as of late and is relatively inexperienced at the highest level, is he worth the £60m? Is it worth trying into a bidding war wth Liverpool? In my opinion he’s not, but if Pep wants him and the right opportunity presents itself then he could work well as a partner for John Stones in the coming years.

Another Southampton player City are reportedly after is Ryan Bertrand. This one’s been around the rumour mill since last summer too. He’s a young, homegrown, England international, but I can’t see him being first choice if the interest is genuine. However, City need to sign new fullbacks and cover for both the left and right flanks, so could he be a backup?

Speaking of the right flank, in the last week the story broke about Dani Alves having agreed terms with City on a two year deal. He’s negotiating his release from Juventus (he had one year left on his contract there), so that City can sign him on a free. Alves is a player that Pep knows well and he’s a proven winner, but after seeing Maicon’s short spell with the Blues there’s reason to be wary. Alves is getting on a bit in years, but he’s been impressive for Juve in both Serie A and the Champions League this year. He could be useful.

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If you’ve read the whole of this article (thank you, you’re one of the more intelligent ones), you’ll know that City have been working hard to move players off the wage bill and Ellaqium Mangala is one of the main names mentioned. Mangala has been pictured in Lyon this week and the Lyon President has confirmed talks have taken place, but no deal has been reached yet. Mangala will undergo a medical at Lyon on Wednesday 21st June and the deal is expected to be completed. There talk of it being just another loan spell, mainly because Lyon aren’t confident that they can pay both the transfer fee and the players wages in one hit. However, I wouldn’t rule out the deal being a permanent one, and if it is a permanent one, I’d consider it a good move for all parties regardless of what the transfer fee might be.

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Another player City are keen to shift is Samir Nasri, but he’s proving difficult to find a suitor. Sevilla looked like a promising opportunity, but his form faded as the season went on, as did Sevilla’s interest in signing him permanently. Of course his ridiculous actions in the Champions League against Leicester, for which he was sent off, did him no favours either. The trouble with Nasri is that he carries an imperfect image, not just in terms of his lack of workrate on the field, but also his off the field behaviour. These issues are putting teams off signing him.

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The talk of Alexis Sanchez doesn’t seem to want to go away either. There’s been heavy talk of him heading to Bayern Munich, so some might say it’s not worth pondering. However, Pep’s admiration for the player has been fairly obvious during the course of this season and by all accounts Sanchez would relish working with Pep again. Recent reports, which we at OTB haven’t been able to authenticate, are that City are prepared to pay Sanchez £275k a week, and they’re prepared to offer Arsenal £50m for the player. Though, so far, it’s been paper talk only. However, there have been a few good signs that it might actually happen, from what we’ve heard from our own sources. We’ll try to get these confirmed, so keep an eye on our Twitter feed to stay up to date!

City are interested in top quality talent only, that much is clear from the Chairman’s end of season interviews.

Rumour has it, there will be two more City signings confirmed by the end of June. However, two would seem a stretch, one is more likely, given that most players are on holiday at the moment.

There’ll be plenty of movement in the coming months, but until anything’ made official, let’s just all keep calm.

Have we covered everything here? Are there any other rumours you’ve heard? Leave us a comment on here or on our Facebook page, or Tweet us at @overthebarfootballblog and tell us more.

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