Manchester City: A crucial summer for Txiki
Manchester City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain is under pressure this summer to deliver world-class signings, something that he has so far largely failed to achieve during his time with the club.
The former Barcelona director was brought to the club to help secure the very best world football had to offer. Of course, Financial Fair Play has played its part in slowing down City’s rate of spending, although the club has still spent plenty of money since Begiristain took the position in October 2012.
Garry Cook who, in conjunction with Brian Marwood, was responsible for signings in the pre-Txiki era. At that time City may have paid over the odds to secure players, something they are no longer willing to do with such frequency, but Cook was never afraid to shoot for the moon. He frequently showed supporters the ambition the club had and the direction it was being driven.
Cook did however make several embarrassing faux pas, at a City awards dinner he inducted Uwe Rosler into the Manchester United hall of fame, he accused Milan of ’’bottling it’’ over the failed pursuit of Kaka, and worst of all, he exchanged thoughtless emails with Marwood regarding the illness Nedum Onuoha’s mum was battling, for which he quite rightly paid with his job.
He was however responsible for bringing in players that largely still form City’s first team squad. A squad that has not really progressed since the summer of 2011 when Sergio Aguero, the club’s last truly world class acquisition, was signed from Atletico Madrid just a few months before Cook left the club. Since then, several transfer windows have been decidedly underwhelming. Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair came and went without impact, Nastasic has now left the club, much to the annoyance of many supporters, and players such as Stevan Jovetic, Fernando,Willy Caballero and Bacary Sagna have all failed to make much of an impression.
Although the club finished last season second in the Premier League, they were quite some way behind Chelsea and even though the gap ended up being just eight points Jose Mourinho’s men won the title at a canter. The fact that both sides were level on New Years day before a run of eight defeats in 15 games ensured that City fell away quite spectacularly. For that reason Manuel Pellegrini is perhaps fortunate to still be in the job. Some will say that the club recognised the poor support in the transfer market he has been given, the squad has not been rejuvenated properly and therefore he should be given another season. Others will point to Pep Guardiola’s 2016 contract expiry as the real reason for the Chilean retaining his position as Etihad chief, for another year at least.
Pellegrini spoke of the need for the club to buy world-class ’’crack’’ players, ’’that give you a kind of ascendancy, status’’ he explained during an interview given with the Manchester Evening News in March.
Blues Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak echoed this sentiment during his end of season address. Put simply and eloquently he explained the need for the club to invest wisely, ’’you will see us in the market bringing in high-quality individuals that fit within what we are aspiring to,’’ he said.
He also spoke of the Blues being an, ’’attractive proposition for players’’, for more reasons than just the money being offered. There will be inevitably be departures and although Al Mubarak stated the need to keep the nucleus of the squad together, he did concede that, ’’there are some players who have served us well. Maybe it’s time for them to move to their next challenge.’’ There have been plenty linked with the Etihad exit door. The futures of first team players such as Jovetic, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri are still yet unresolved.
City’s top three transfer targets are Raheem Sterling, Paul Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne, according to general consensus. Two bids have been lodged for Sterling, both have been rejected by Liverpool and it remains to be seen of the Blues will lodge a third.
Rumours continue to circle concerning Real Madrid’s Isco, although after the arrival of Rafa Benitez at the Bernabeu, and after supposed assurances of a first team spot, his future is less clear.
Boss Pellegrini and Txiki were spotted at the Copa America, most likely to check on potential transfer options, but knowing who is on their radar is difficult to predict. This is a new City, less brash and public with its pursuits, one that keeps its cards close to the chest.
The home-grown quota will have to be addressed after the departures of Frank Lampard, James Milner, Dedryck Boyata and Scott Sinclair, which in part might be contributing to City’s pursuit of Raheem Sterling as well as a possible move for Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, should the audacious move for Paul Pogba not materialise.
A possible move for Barcelona’s Alex Song, who would count as a home-grown player, has also been mooted although City face competition from Chelsea and West Ham United for the midfielders signature. The club also appears to be closing in on the signing of highly rated Fulham starlet Patrick Roberts, although it is likely the winger would spend a year out on loan at a championship side or with the EDS under the guidance of Patrick Viera.
There is hope however that the answer could come from within the current set-up. According to the Manchester Evening News three players are about to make the jump to the first team. Jason Denayer and Marcos Lopes, who impressed last season whilst on-loan at Celtic and Lille respectively, and Kelechi Iheanacho could also play a role in the first team squad after making a superb impact for the EDS last season.
This is a crucial window for the club and with other teams looking to strengthen City cannot fall behind. If Txiki fails to pull off the ’’crack’’ signings required, it could be his last in Manchester.
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