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.
Tottenham’s Anthony Martial decision looked justified against Brighton
The Frenchman was poor against Brighton after summer in which Tottenham tried to sign him.
There were plenty of poor performances from the Manchester United players. The likes of Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and even David De Gea did not cover themselves in glory. But Anthony Martial might have been the pick of the bunch.
With Alexis Sanchez missing the Frenchman got a surprise start but failed to take his opportunity. He looked disinterested at times and was anonymous throughout, before being hauled off by Mourinho.
“After thinking about all the factors and possibilities, Anthony wants to leave Manchester United. There are lots of factors, and right now it’s too early to talk about them…”
It comes at the end of a summer in which it seemed he would leave. The player wanted to go, as confirmed by his agent.
Tottenham Hotspur were heavily linked with his signature. However, as reported by the Evening Standard, Spurs were never going to pay the asking price for the French international – set at a cool £80 million by the Old Trafford hierarchy.
At one point toward the end of the transfer window, it appeared that things have softened and a deal might go through. But Tottenham did not get their man.
Based on the evidence on display this afternoon, Tottenham fans might be pleased. But his display today shows exactly why he should have been allowed to join Tottenham this summer.
Clearly, he is not happy. Because on his day the 21-year-old is a devastating forward with the ability to leave even the best defences in tatters.
A move to Tottenham could have reinvigorated his spirit and career. As it is, he is stuck at United where he looks set to cut a destitute figure until January at least. If he carries on this form, then Tottenham are unlikely to come knocking on the door again.
Three selection headaches Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino faces ahead of Manchester United trip
The Argentinian made two changes against Fulham having beaten Newcastle and despite the impressive win at Wembley, could make more before heading to the north-west with several doubts over key men in the team.
Here are some of the biggest decisions he will have to make over the week ahead…
Ben Davies or Danny Rose?
Ben Davies has had a poor pre-season and a disappointing start to the Premier League season, potentially opening the door for a return for Danny Rose. Linked with an exit in the summer, Rose was on the bench against Fulham and could be applying the pressure on the Welshman who took his place last season.
It seems unlikely that Pochettino would make such a change for such an important fixture, but equally he may not want to gamble on Davies costing his team with an error.
Lucas Moura in attack?
One of the best performers throughout pre-season and, in particular, against Fulham, has been Lucas Moura. The Brazilian has played as a second striker and been impressive, creating and finishing chances and posing an alternative threat to Harry Kane.
Yet, selecting Moura means that Pochettino must sacrifice a midfielder such as Moussa Dembele, which he may be reluctant to do going to Old Trafford. This decision will be a clear reflection of how confident Pochettino feels about his team’s chances of a win.
Is it right to play Toby Alderweireld?
Goal were among many sources to claim that the Belgian was close to joining Jose Mourinho’s side this summer as speculation continued throughout the transfer window. Alderweireld returned to the line-up for only his sixth appearance for the club in 2018 against Fulham, but Pochettino may have doubts.
The coach could question whether Alderweireld’s mentality would be correct to face a club he reportedly wanted to sign for in only his second appearance of the season, and with the likes of Eric Dier ready to step in, he may opt to be cautious.
One winner, one loser from Newcastle’s draw to Cardiff
Newcastle United had an eventful afternoon in Cardiff and there will be mixed feelings about the final result. The game finished as a goalless draw after the visitors had a player sent off. Based on that, it would look to be a good result, but the Magpies missed a penalty in the last minute to take all three points.
It was an underwhelming display from Newcastle, as they were second best for long periods and didn’t offer as much of a goal threat as they did against Tottenham. Rafa Benitez will be disappointed by the performance and will have got that point across to his players at full-time. Below we discuss a winner and loser from the match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Winner – Jamaal Lascelles
There was a lot of interest from other clubs during the summer, but Jamaal Lascelles stayed at St James’ Park and he should be set for another season of development under Benitez. He was clearly the stand out player for Newcastle, as he put his body on the line to earn an important clean sheet.
The captain won six aerial duels as he stood up to the physical assault deployed by Cardiff. In addition to his aerial dominance, he completed four ball recoveries and six clearances in an excellent defensive performance.
His pass success rate of 82% underlines his improvement on the ball over the last 12 months. Lascelles is quickly becoming one of the best English centre-backs and he will be crucial to Newcastle’s ambitions this season.
Loser – Kenedy
The Chelsea loanee is regarded as one of Newcastle’s most talented players, but there is a reason why he is in their squad rather than playing for his parent club. The Brazilian is capable of magical performances, but he is also capable of some very poor displays. Against Cardiff, his showing fell into the latter.
Kenedy finished the match with a pass success rate of 57%, which was very poor. His decision making throughout was disappointing and he was trying to do too much to make up for his lack of contribution.
During the final minutes, he shanked a free-kick into the wall, before tamely hitting the penalty into an easy area for the goalkeeper to save. Kenedy shouldn’t have been given the opportunity to take the spot-kick, as it was clear that he was having a poor afternoon. There will be better days for the Brazilian, but this was one to forget.
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