Despite lifting the Premier League trophy last season, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini had clear intentions to strengthen his squad in key areas in the summer transfer window. More than anything the Chilean looked to add depth to his squad in order to compete in Europe as well as domestically as City look to establish themselves as one of the top clubs in world football.
Bacary Sagna – Free
City wasted no time in convincing Sagna to swap the red of Arsenal for sky blue, making him their first transfer of the summer and giving the Frenchman a 3-year deal. The right-back needs no introducing to Premier League followers and has established himself as one of the most consistent full backs in the league during his 7 years with the Gunners. The logic behind this move is simple, City now possess two of the league’s top right backs which allows Pelligrini the flexibility to switch between Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta which will keep both fresh. It will be interesting to see if Pellegrini can keep the 31-year old happy as he is likely to play second fiddle to Zabaleta but there is no doubt this is a quality addition to the City team and provides real strength in depth.
Willy Caballero – £6 million
City’s second transfer of the summer saw goalkeeper Willy Cabellero reunite Pellegrini who had managed him previously at Malaga. In many ways Caballero is a similar signing to that of Sagna; he is a proven performer at the highest level who Pellegrini knows he can rely upon. Cabellero will provide current City number one Joe Hart with stern competition for a place in the starting XI. Pellegrini has again provided himself with two top quality players in one position, which will give him a very pleasant selection dilemma. This signing should push both goalkeepers to perform at their absolute best and is another indication City are ready to compete in the Champions League.
Fernando – £12 million
After failing to bring the 27-year old Brazilian to the club in January, Pellegrini made sure the defensive midfielder would be lining up for City come the start of the season. Fernando, who joins from FC Porto is undoubtedly an important piece in Manchester City’s star-studded jigsaw. In this transfer Pellegrini has got himself an unselfish player who is willing to do the dirty work, much like his compatriot Fernandinho. This transfer also highlights the flexibility that Pellegrini is clearly aiming for this season. Fernando could be used as a straight replacement for Fernandinho and play alongside Toure in a midfield two, or he could be deployed alongside both midfielders in a central three. For tough European games Pellegrini may well look to start the trio together which will certainly provide serious power in the midfield, it will also allow Toure to play further forward, something many City fans would like to see.
Eliaquim Mangala – £32 million
Perhaps the most obvious position Manchester City needed to improve in the summer transfer window was central defence, so it comes as no surprise that centre back Mangala was considerably their most expensive signing of the summer. The 23-year old has been promising for sometime and had been linked with big clubs all across Europe. Mangala may have to bide his time to overtake Martin Demichelis but there is no doubt Pellegrini will have plans to ease the Frenchman in alongside Vincent Kompany eventually. Despite his youth, Mangala has great experience across Europe with 135 appearances in spells with Porto and Standard Liege. Mangala possesses great power and speed, and has all the attributes to develop into a top defender if City can maintain his rapid progression. However, £32 million is on the expensive side for a defender who has rarely played against Europe’s best strikers, so the transfer is certainly not without risk.
Frank Lampard – loan
A strange one for Manchester City who may have looked at the former Chelsea man as an opportunity to add some experience to the side as well as filling the home-grown players quota. Lampard can still hold his own at the top level but will surely be used sparingly by the Blues until his loan runs out in January. The problem with this loan is that City will have to sign a replacement player in January, which will leave the new man with much less time to settle in during an important part of the season. Pellegrini does however, seem to have had the dressing room in mind when making this deal, Lamps could prove an invaluable member behind the scenes.
This summer Manuel Pellegrini has quietly gone about his business and has brought in 4 players who will undoubtedly strengthen the squad. Each player signed is better than the equivalent outgoing player in their position, which represents clear progress for a Manchester City side looking to take the next step to become a superpower in 2014/15. City did not need a superstar but supporters may be disappointed a few more quality additions weren’t made, particularly following the deadline day loss of Alvaro Negredo. It will remain to be seen if a rather more cautious approach pays off for the Citizens but my initial impressions are that they are one or two men short, particularly up front, of where they need to be.
Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line
The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.
The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.
Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”
The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.
Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.
Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.
From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.
Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.
Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.
Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.
This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.
But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.
In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.
Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
Despite improvement, Everton should not rekindle Thomas Vermaelen interest
The Belgian defender has been in better form for Barcelona this season.
Rumours have emerged today suggesting Everton could be back in for Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen.
Catalan newspaper Sport has reported that the 32-year-old could be offered a new deal by Barcelona, with a team from the Premier League interested in signing him.
Sport Witness has openly hypothesised that Everton could be that team. Whilst there is no confirmation or substantiated report that is the case, the boot certainly fits.
Last summer Everton tried to sign Vermaelen.
As reported by the Liverpool Echo, at the time Barcelona vetoed a loan move to Everton as they felt the defender could be a useful asset.
The Belgian certainly has. After struggling with injuries and form throughout most of his Barcelona tenure the former Arsenal man has enjoyed a good season.
The 32-year-old has been a genuine asset to the Catalans, despite still being used sparingly, and such form has even seen him win back a place in Roberto Martinez’s national selection for Belgium.
If it is Everton interested in Vermaelen it is easy to see why. Centre-back has been a major problem for the club this season.
However, Vermaelen, or a player of his ilk, is not the answer to the Toffees’ woes.
The Belgian is obviously a talented player with plenty of experience, but Everton need to freshen up their back-line.
Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka’s age has shown in recent months.
The pair have been, at the best, inconsistent for the past 18 months and Everton need fresh young talent in the heart of defence if they are to succeed.
Vermaelen is not only 32 but also immensely injury prone. Everton need reliable figures to plug their leaky defences and the Belgian can simply not be relied upon.
Whilst on paper it seems a good deal, and one Everton could certainly turn to their benefit.
The truth is supporters of the Goodison Park outfit will hope they are not the club reportedly keen on bringing Vermaelen back to the Premier League.
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