City on verge of breaking transfer window record

By Paul Stewart, Wed 26 July 2017 10:46

City on verge of breaking transfer window recordBlues have signed five players so far for a total of £230m

Man City have broken the record for the most money a club has ever shelled out in a single transfer window after tying up deals for Benjamin Mendy and Danilo. The signings have pushed City past the £230 million, breaking a record held by Real Madrid for eight years. Back in 2009 Real’s Galacticos recruitment efforts went into overdrive as they made Cristiano Ronaldo the most expensive footballer in history and also snapped up Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso. It proved money well spent as they have since won the Champions League three times, with Benzema and particularly Ronaldo driving them to such prestigious silverware. How have Man City done by comparison? Will these new signings deliver Champions League trophies aplenty? Or is it just further proof that hyper-inflation has turned the market crazy?

In 2009 Kaka was a Champions League winner with a Balon d’Or to his name. Ditto Ronaldo. Benzema was one of the most in-demand strikers in the world and had been terrorising defences in France and Europe, while Xabi Alonso was another Champions League winner and one of the finest ball-playing midfielders on the planet. Looking back, it seems like money very well spent, particularly in the case of Ronaldo, who continues to dominate World Player of the Year awards ahead of his great rival Lionel Messi.

Fast forward eight years and more than £200 million does not seem to get you anywhere near as much for your money. It is strange that it has taken so long to break Real’s record, but now the way the market is going – a bid if £40 million has been turned down for Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Pickford is a £30 million goalkeeper – it seems like the record will be broken again and again. PSG will break it again this summer if they tie up a deal for Neymar, and that is the sort of player worth breaking the bank for: a megastar, a Champions League winner, a match-winner.

City, for their £230 million, have not signed anybody that has won a Balon d’Or, nor have any of them won a Champions League (unless you count Danilo, who sat on the bench for Real the past two seasons, which is incidentally what he is expected to do at the Etihad). Instead of match-winning attacking talent, Pep Guardiola has been going crazy for full-backs. That’s right, full-backs. Kyle Walker, who has never won anything, not a single trophy, became the world’s most expensive defender when City signed him. The £52 million signing of Mendy makes him now the world’s second most expensive defender. Mendy enjoyed a strong season at Monaco, where he won Ligue 1, as did another new City recruit, the £45 million winger Bernardo Silva. Guardiola has forked out £26 million on Danilo, a back-up player at Real, to make him a back-up player at City. Finally, he has also made Ederson the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, despite the Brazilian just having one full season at Benfica under his belt and never having been capped for the national team.

When Real set that record they signed four key players that would be lynchpins of the side and occupy the most glamorous positions on the pitch: two forwards, an attacking midfielder and a central midfielder. Now Guardiola has bought three full-backs, a goalkeeper and a winger. The goalkeeper will start, and Guardiola will hope he is not a disaster like Claudio Bravo, as will two of the full-backs, but Silva is not a shoo-in for the first team given the competition for places in City’s attack. Guardiola has bolstered his squad, but he has not exactly signed star quality.

Will it be enough to deliver the Premiership? The bookmakers certainly think so. City were third last season but the bookies believe this spending spree will make all the difference and have now made City clear favourites for the league. Ladbrokes has City at 9/5, and if you place a wager it is best to use a reputable site like Ladbrokes to review the odds, which puts them clearly ahead of Chelsea at 3/1, Man Utd at 10/3 and Tottenham at 9/1.

To be fair, City were exposed in wide areas last season and Guardiola was absolutely ruthless in axing Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Aleksandr Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta. He will now benefit from a lot more energy and industry on both flanks. And City did not really need a new striker given the strength of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. All of City’s offence is looking stacked, competition for places is high and there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from, with more pace, guile and flair than any other side in the league. City could well win the Premiership, despite fierce competition, as they can blow teams away and a fantastic attack can make up for a questionable defence.

Goalkeeper was a real problem position and it is good to see Guardiola try to address that. But it is a shame that he has not tackled the real gaping hole in the City defence: centre-back. Until he does that, it is unlikely to see City challenging the likes of Real Madrid for the Champions League.