It’s almost that time again… the January transfer window! It’s traditionally a quiet time for Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola usually warning well in advance that the club won’t be signing any players, and that’s almost always the case.
Still, they signed Julian Álvarez around this time last year and the value of that deal has quickly become apparent, and they also let Ferran Torres go, showing that just as they will sign the right player for the price right in the middle of the season, they will also release the right.
He spends the last three months of January
£14.1m, £0, £0
How much money will be available this month?
If the right player lands in the position they need, in theory the money would be there to make it happen because it would be the type of signing they’d be happy to make the following summer and therefore the budget could be moved. to make a deal sooner.
But this happens very rarely. City bought Aymeric Laporte in January 2018 for £57m as he was set to leave Athletic Bilbao 18 months after rejecting a move to the Etihad. He was clearly a player who was considered good enough not just to come in for six months, but for years to come.
In general, the City Council has considered that they are difficult to find. Last winter, they secured a deal for Alvarez, but were happy enough to let him go on loan to River Plate until the summer.
So he really has to be the right man, not just at the right time, but for a long time.
Alvarez shone at the World Cup for winners Argentina after signing for City in January (Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Who makes the key decisions on signings?
Generally, the city operates like a commission, with everyone on the same page, although it doesn’t always happen that way.
Last summer, for example, Guardiola was very concerned about the depth of the centre-back, so he raised his concerns with sporting director Txiki Begiristain in the last few weeks of the window and then the club went away and identified some targets . In the end, they signed Manuel Akanji because Guardiola pushed for it and because the club wanted to give everything for him to sign a new contract, which he later did.
It was also muttered that Guardiola was more keen to sign Harry Kane in 2021 than the rest of the club’s management, even though in the end Tottenham Hotspur weren’t going to sell anyway. The alternative, Erling Haaland, shows how City normally spend their Januarys: putting themselves at the forefront of big summer deals.
Which position is the priority?
Here it should be lateral, the same as a few years ago. Although, while it’s usually been a left-back they’ve needed, a right-back would also be welcome as City only have one top option on each flank: Kyle Walker on the right, Joao Cancelo on the left.
With Walker missing several weeks before the World Cup, that lack of depth became apparent. Sergio Gómez, who was signed in the summer after City failed to sign Marc Cucurella, is still not fully trusted to start many games, so a right-back has been used to allow Cancelo to continue for the ‘left handed.
It’s not the end of the world, as City have been doing rounds at left-back for years and as a striker last season, but it could have something to do with targeting. Whether they will or not is another story.
What are plausible goals?
Well, they signed Gomez and decided to keep the 22-year-old in Manchester rather than offload him because, after a move for Cucurella fell through, City decided there was no real alternative on the market, especially with the summer window so advanced. by that time.
Is this likely to have changed in January? Well, it is, in terms of players closer to the end of their contracts or potential rows or concerns arising in the intervening months, but it’s likely that the sort of top-flight options City are looking for are still off limits. .
Sergio Gomez has started playing for Manchester City (Photo: Lewis Storey/Getty Images)
They had looked at Raphael Guerreiro at Borussia Dortmund and Rayan Ait-Nouri at Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of the summer, and have been interested in Ben Chilwell and Kieran Tierney in the past, so perhaps they could benefit from Cucurella’s move to Chelsea or of Oleksandr Zinchenko’s change. at Arsenal in unexpected ways.
Who could come out?
It’s unlikely that anyone will go as the squad isn’t as big as it is. Torres did go there last January, but it’s hard to imagine a big name this time around.
Bernardo Silva’s future is still up in the air and City may benefit from a big offer there if he arrives sooner rather than later, but there would be pressure to find a replacement, especially as Ilkay Gundogan’s deal also expires in summer. .
Which World Cup star would be perfect for City…
The Argentine Enzo Fernández. It’s a surprise, in fact, that City didn’t sign him from River Plate when he moved to club and country mate Alvarez. Fernandez seems to possess many of the qualities a City midfielder should have: he can maneuver the ball in tight spaces, he knows how to speed up a game and slow it down, he can win the ball back, challenge in the air, he’s mobile and he has an eye for the target.
Benfica signed him in the summer and big clubs are already eyeing a transfer that could be worth more than £80m. City might have missed a trick with him once, but it’s not too late to make it right.
(Top photo, left to right: Raphael Guerreiro, Bernardo Silva and Rayan Ait-Nouri; Getty Images)