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Manchester City Summer Transfer Talk - 2020-21

By Manjit Tiwari

Manchester City not only competes in four competitions every season but also takes each one of them seriously for Pep wouldn’t have it any other way. When you’re competing on four fronts, you need a big squad, both in terms of quality and quantity. On paper, City squad looks massive with superstars everywhere but as the season progressed, it became evident that some gaps, which were big enough to hurt title challenges, were never filled. When the transfer window opens this time, Pep would be looking to avoid repeating those mistakes and making sure that he’s not only covering the existing gaps but also adequately replacing the ones that would appear when some of the big names leave, namely David Silva and now Leroy Sané.


While talking transfers there has to be several aspects of it that need attention.


BUDGET


When it comes to budget, the social media would have you believe that Manchester City have a bottomless pit of money. As wonderful as that sounds and may as well be true for the owners, the club doesn’t and can’t operate that way. City earns upwards of £500m in revenues and are perfectly capable of spending big but just throwing money isn’t the club’s style. City did adopt that approach when the takeover was fresh and the club needed to make a statement, but over the years the executives have matured in their transfer dealings and since Pep’s arrival, have preferred substance over style. So while City needs multiple signings and have money to buy them, expect them to still practice caution and avoid indulging in any big-name signing. And don’t we all prefer a guy like Bernardo over someone like Pogba!

PLAYERS NEEDED TO BE REPLACED


Defence


As hard as it is to believe, City are yet to replace Vincent Kompany. He stood tall in City’s backline for more than a decade and even when he was injured, his presence in the dressing room ensured there weren’t any let ups. The club cannot go another season without finding someone of his capabilities. Finding another Kompany is tough; they say perfection doesn’t exist but we have to look for it anyway.


Possible replacements:

Ruben Dias

The 22-year-old Benfica and Portugal centre-back is one of the hottest young prospects right now. He’s young, strong in the air and is capable of playing out from the back. Those are things Pep likes in his centre-backs and the reason why City scouted him last summer. The interest never developed into serious negotiations with City finding his 50m price tag a bit too much. City once lost Virgil Van Dijk the same way but made up for it by signing Aymeric Laporte. Hopefully, they have similar backup plans in mind when they go into the market this time.

Milan Skriniar


The 24-year-old Slovakian and Internazionale defender is wanted by some of the biggest clubs in Europe and those who follow Serie A will know why that is. He’s on the verge of entering his prime and is playing for one of the top clubs in a league known for producing tough defenders. He’s known for his ability to come on the top when it comes to duels, be it in the air or on the ground. He reads the game well and is perfectly capable of playing through balls and breaking opposition lines, which can come handy against deep-lying defenses that City often faces.


Kalidou Koulibaly

He’s a centre-back, is 29-years-old and valued 72mn. Now that price tag and maybe the age is almost a big ‘No’ for City but the prospect of seeing the pairing of Laporte and Koulibaly at the back for the next 5 years is too big a temptation to not even talk about. He is a perfect combination of upper body strength and pace. He doesn’t dive into tackles rather uses his shoulder strength to unsettle the opponent and is almost always successful. He’s good in the air and is comfortable playing out from the back or playing long balls. City are heavily linked with him, and it will be a curious wait to find if he is the chosen one to partner Laporte next season.


While the need to find Kompany’s replacement is important, there’s also a need to focus on the underwhelming performances by John Stones and Otamendi. Fernandinho has taken the responsibility of a CB and has been doing very well but he’s not getting any younger. These names have been linked previously and Dias has emerged as one of the best young CBs while Skriniar has been proving himself at the highest level of Italian football. Koulibaly might be the oldest of the lot but the most experienced one too with world-class abilities. City may look up to one of them or maybe someone else but expect a new centre back to arrive at the Etihad before the next season.

Midfield

Our midfield is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best in the world. In Foden, Bernardo, De Bruyne, and Rodri, City have an extremely talented bunch of players who are here to stay for years to come. Many underrate Gundogan but time and again he’s proven to be a vital component of City’s midfield. He’s the reason City went unfazed in the previous title challenges when Fernandinho got injured. With these 5 the midfield already looks stacked and David Silva’s imminent departure doesn’t quite sound the alarm bells for a new signing but if Kompany’s replacement, or the lack of it, has told us anything, it’s that legends like these might be hard to replace qualitatively, but not even bringing a replacement might prove to be too big an error.


Some of the option City can look out for include :


Kai Havertz


The 21-year-old Bayer Leverkusen versatile midfielder can play as an attacking midfielder, winger as well as a False Nine. As a teenager, he broke Bundesliga record of highest goals in a single campaign by a teenager (17). Apart from his productivity in front of goal, he’s known for his positional awareness and ability to create space for his teammates by constantly engaging the opponent defensive line. City haven’t shown any serious interest in him yet but if City look to go into the market for a midfielder, his name should appear high up on the list.


Fabian Ruiz

The 24-year-old Napoli midfielder doesn’t feature much high on the list of goalscorers or even assist providers (2 goals and 2 assists for Napoli in the current Seria A season) but he’s got much more to his game than those stats would show. He prefers to play on the left but can play anywhere in the midfield, doesn’t have much pace but more than makes up for it with his technical ability. There are a lot of similarities; you could even say he’s a ready made David Silva replacement.


Houssem Aouar

Another midfield sensation who has been scouted by City previously and by other European elites too. The 21-year-old Lyon midfielder is one of the best when it comes to keeping possession and the reason why Pep admires him. His style of keeping possession isn’t to just keep the ball and slow down the game but to make incisive passes and move forward. His ball retention skills also allow him to contribute defensively while his team is out of possession.


There are other midfielders like James Maddison and Jack Grealish who have been scouted by City and praised by Pep but English talent comes at a premium. Unless City are looking to fork out 70-80m to add to their decently stacked midfield, neither of these are likely to end up at the Etihad.

Attack

For all the attacking prowess this team possesses, Manchester City are likely to reinforce their attack this summer. With Pep confirming Leroy Sané’s imminent departure, a replacement would have to be found. Pep stated City wouldn’t need a replacement for Sané if he leaves but he also said the same last summer for Kompany. If City wishes to compete at the highest level and win all trophies, they have to replace a world-class player who also happens to be the only natural left-winger in the squad.


Mikel Oyarzabal


He may not be a popular choice but there’s a reason he was linked with Manchester City last summer. The 23-year-old left-footed winger doesn’t have the pace of Sané but he’s agile. He also has a better work rate and defensive contribution. Unlike modern wingers, he doesn’t use width to run up on the pitch with the ball but rather relies on short and incisive passes to find his teammates and build up attacks. With 11 goals and 7 assists to his name already this season in all competitions playing for Real Sociedad, he has given a great account of himself, and this consistency can prove to of great asset from a Manchester City perspective.

Jadon Sancho


The one that got away. There are divided opinions among City fans whether he should be brought back from Borussia Dortmund or not, given the way he left. But no one can question that leaving City has greatly benefitted him. He has become an integral part of a top Bundesliga club, scoring an astonishing 17 goals along with 17 assists in Bundesliga only. His spectacular form and consistency has turned him into a 100m worth player now from his 8m valuation three years ago. He has pace, dribbling skills, and loads of goals and assists to become a worthy Sané replacement but there also issues with his attitude that might be an issue again for Pep. In addition to that, his 100m+ price will also be a big roadblock in any deal City might be looking at.


Leon Bailey


Another player who was heavily linked with City previously. The 22-years-old Jamaican born Bayer Leverkusen winger prefers to play on the left and wide on the pitch, which leaves him untracked for most parts of the game. To add to it, he’s one of the fastest players in Bundesliga and good at dribbling which almost makes it impossible to catch him once he’s through with the ball. Since he likes to play wide, he also uses a lot of crossing and finding his teammates in the box with accurate deliveries. Apart from his offensive prowess, he also contributes defensively, relying on his pace to catch up with the opponents at the other end of the pitch. He’s expected to cost under 40m that makes him one of the best options to replace Sané. Youth and Academy


City’s academy doesn’t get a lot of attention but it has produced some of the finest youngsters in the recent past. Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho are its biggest successes. Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis seem to be the next big things. There are also some players who haven’t stepped on to the biggest stage yet but are promising and possess the talent to become first team members of this City squad.


One of them is Jayden Braaf, the poster boy of City’s youth team. The winger is known to make surging runs with the ball at his feet, dribbling past defenders with relative ease. He’s only 17 and mature for his age under Pep’s guidance could become a world-beater. With no international break scheduled for this summer, it would be interesting to see how Pep tests his abilities and works on his transitions to the senior squad, especially with other clubs in Europe showing keen interest in acquiring his services. CAS Verdict


Manchester City have been hit with a major penalty resulting in a 2-year ban from UEFA competitions that is set to hit the club hard should CAS uphold the verdict. Champions League is the pinnacle of European football and every professional player dreams of not only playing in it but also winning the tournament. A 2-year ban would not only make it harder for the club to sign some top talents but could also trigger a mass exodus of the players already at the club. De Bruyne has already indicated that a 2-year ban could force him out of the club and he wouldn’t be alone. The verdict is set to come out in July and if the ban gets upheld, all the transfer strategies formed by the executives and discussed by us would not mean much. In addition, it might also mean the end of Pep’s stint at the club, who at present is a massive attraction for any top player looking for a new club.

The season is heading towards the end, and the Club must be analyzing all these factors by now. The plans for recruitments, promotions, and exits would be laid, and for us fans, it is now an anxious wait to see what the future and the destiny holds for us!

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