Grading Manchester City's Transfer Activity
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.
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