Hey Jude, Rafael, Bernardo, Ilkay…

Having already bagged the Net Spend Trophy 2022 with transfer profits ranging from £91m-£125m (depending on which figures you believe), City are set for some major signings in 2023 to boost and replenish Pep Guardiola’s squad.

Don’t be at all surprised if Txiki and Co land the signatures of Jude Bellingham – who’ll be a veritable veteran by next June when he turns 20 – and Portuguese forward, Rafael Leao, who will celebrate his 24th birthday, also in June.

Jude Bellingham is already familiar with playing at the Etihad.

Putting aside the hype and overhype of the eternally young England midfielder, he’s obviously a big talent and Pep is a known admirer. City are now big favourites to bring Bellingham back to these shores from Borussia Dortmund.

Cast your mind back to mid-October and Jurgen Klopp’s press conference prior to City’s trip to Anfield. He once again perpetuated the propaganda and lies about City’s finances, peddling the myth that City could spend what they like with impunity, whereas Liverpool could not compete.

Rumour has it – albeit it cannot be corroborated – that Klopp’s hissy fit came hot on the heels of  ‘news’ of Bellingham’s intentions to snub the Scousers and move to the Etihad next summer. Only time will tell if this turns out to be true, but in the meantime, it’s a nice little nugget upon which to chew.

Could the ‘forever young’ Jude Bellingham be joining England team mates Kyle Walker, John Stones, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden at City?

The truth is that under Sheikh Mansour’s ownership, the leadership of Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, CEO Ferran Soriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain, City run an extraordinarily successful operation, at the heart of the global City Football Group (CFG). It’s a business model which City’s rivals can only seek to emulate. It’s the reason City have the ability to spend big and spend wisely.

Another youthful addition could well be AC Milan’s Leao, who will be entering the final year of his deal in Italy next summer. In the same way City sold Gabriel Jesus (£45m) and Raheem Sterling (£47.5m), when they had just 12 months left on their respective contracts, it means any buying club can achieve a much more pragmatic price. Interest in Leao will be high, but he could be sold for something in the region of £50m.

I’m no expert – not by a long way – but City could potentially land the pair for a combined fee of circa £150m, maybe even less, if the club offered a one off, lump sum, payment for Bellingham.

Rafael Leao is reported to being on City’s radar as a transfer target next summer. The Portuguese attacker would be in good company with his compatriots Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva.

Notwithstanding such acquisitions, City are as keen as ever to keep Bernardo Silva and have offered him an extended deal and bumper pay rise, beyond his current contract, which expires in summer 2025.

City are seeking to clarify Bernardo’s intentions as to whether he still hankers for the Iberian lifestyle and a move to the crooks of Catalonia. If he does, and Barcelona President Joan Laporta can pull yet another infamous ‘lever’, to pay City something in the region of £70m for a 29-year old Silva, it would be with an extremely heavy heart that  City would bid him adeus, adios and goodbye.

Arguably City’s most important signing – as it is every time he extends his stay at the Etihad – Pep Guardiola once again commits his future to the club.

Following the best signing ever outside of any summer or winter transfer window – that of  Guardiola extending his time at City to nine years – there’s hope that Ilkay Gundogan will stay for at least another season. The ever popular German midfielder (32), is a free agent in the summer and there’s plenty of Europe’s elite prepared to grab him on a Bosman.

Gundo has always stated that whoever is managing him is a key consideration as to where he plays. That bodes well for a prolonged stay in Manchester.

Pep’s decision to stay at the Etihad until 2025 can only enhance the prospect of Ilkay Gundogan extending his current City contract.

With such a hefty and healthy transfer balance derived from player sales of £200m+, City could still net tens of millions more, if they opt to sell some of the plethora of Academy players presently out on loan.

Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Burnley), Liam Delap (Stoke), Tommy Doyle and James McAtee (Sheffield United), Callum Doyle (Coventry) and Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough) are all featuring in The Championship. Others such as Yan Couto, Yangel Herrera, Issa Kabore and Kayky are playing in top flight leagues across Europe.

City are hoping Bernardo Silva will sign a new deal and finally put to bed any talk of a move to Barcelona.

City’s burgeoning profitability is reflected in the club’s Annual Report for the 2021/22 season, with record revenues of £613m and record profits of £41.7m – the latter being more than double the previous club record. It’s now 14 years since Sheikh Mansour – that’s Sheikh Mansour the man, the individual, NOT the State – acquired City from Thaksin Shinawatra, and the upward trajectory for both the club and wider CFG is the envy of the football world.

It’s the blueprint for both on-field success and off the pitch business growth, and yet City’s detractors still lie and collude against the club, spreading malicious falsehoods and disinformation.

They said it wouldn’t last. They say City are ‘State owned. They, whoever ‘they’ are, haven’t got a clue. City are doing just fine under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour.

The anti-City narrative espoused by the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United, will now be put to the test as both the Fenway Sports Group and the Glazers seek buyers for the not so mighty reds. How hugely hilarious and hypocritical would it be if both sets of Yanks sell to Arabic enterprises?

Would the fan bases at Anfield and Old Trafford suddenly morph into a superior class of ‘Oil Cnuts’? Would their clubs be slagged off as being state owned? What would gurning Jurgen be spouting at his press conferences and post match interviews – would he still be pleading poverty?

The immediate impact and striking success of Erling Haaland is said to have been a positive contributory factor in Pep’s decision to stay at City.

An American retreat from the Premier League might even be a good thing for City.

The fatuous and self protectionist Financial Fair Play rules – so favoured by US owners at United, Liverpool and Arsenal and manipulated to stop City challenging the previously established elite – should, in theory, be there to ensure any new owners cannot spend with impunity when trying to resurrect the flagging fortunes of any reds.

The irony of any Middle Eastern takeovers wouldn’t be wasted on City, nor would it hold any fears for a club which is now the model of self sustainability, stability and success. City can now match the pulling power of those who sit, or once sat, at the top table of European football.

Get your jacket Andrea! Some of the so called ‘elite’ of European football are now drowning in a sea of debt and mired in allegations of financial mismanagement and corruption. City, on the other hand are profitable and self sustaining – oh how it must hurt the likes of Juventus, Barcelona, United et al.

Barcelona’s financial mismanagement and huge debts are well documented. Only this week the whole Juventus board, including the extremely ‘dodgy’ president, Andrea Agnelli, resigned amidst police investigations into the club’s transfers and an annual loss of £220m – a record in Italy.

Closer to home we have Liverpool and United effectively up for sale, because FSG and the Glazers can no longer continue to make a few bucks for themselves in turbulent economic times.

Pep’s ongoing passion for City is plain to see.

And then we have our very own, beloved Blues with an owner who invests in the club, the local community in Manchester and supports the best manager in the world. City have the infrastructure and resources required to buy and develop superb footballers who deliver wonderful, easy on the eye play – not forgetting the odd trophy now and again. Has there ever been a better time to be a City fan?

By David Walker


Twitter: @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. November 30, 2022  3:16 pm by Geoffrey Blake Reply

    Hi David, good to hear from you today, and its good to read your essay on how good owners work! We're all very grateful for all that Sheik Mansour has done for our club in the last 14 years but there's just one more thing from from him - some of his time! I'd love to see him in person at The Etihad a little more! I am sure that he is taking an interest in all that's going on and he's got a great team in place, but I'd just love to see him put in a few more appearances at home! If I'm right I can only remember a couple of visits since 2008, and that disappoints me. I think it would really lift the club, the players and supporters if he appeared from time to time - not suggesting he buys a season ticket, but...

    Another topic... any whispers about the long-awaited Premier League FFP investigation?

    Also, great to see almost half the England team on display last night from MCFC, great to see PF finally let off the leash and in the second half he looked really good.

    Anyhow, keep up the good work,
    Best Regards

    • November 30, 2022  3:49 pm by David Walker Reply

      Yes it would be nice to see the Sheikh at games every now and again. As far as I can remember it was just the one appearance at the Etihad and I think we beat Liverpool 3-0. I've no idea what or where the PL 'investigation' is at nowadays - it seems to have been running almost as long as Coronation Street. It must be very frustrating for the so called 'powers that be' to be seeking wrongdoings where they don't exist. Thanks for your generous feedback.

  2. November 30, 2022  3:28 pm by Pete lynch Reply

    Quality David. In short, no!

    • November 30, 2022  3:40 pm by David Walker Reply

      Nice and succinct - thanks fella.

  3. November 30, 2022  4:53 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Nice piece once again David 👍. I would love the arrival of the two players mentioned both would be great additions to a squad already full of talent. More interesting is whether we can keep Bernardo I love the guy to bits he's a magnificent player. But we can't have this will he stay will he go every season. I so hope we keep him but he needs to be fair with the club and state his intentions . Interesting Barc & Juve situation something smells about both clubs. Wouldn't it be Karma on a big scale if bin dippers and rags get taken over by oil money. What a field day we could have with there fan base.

    • November 30, 2022  6:05 pm by David Walker Reply

      The corruption and shenanigans at the likes of Juventus and Barcelona come as no surprise. Sadly the same can be said of UEFA's total disinterest in the crooked dealings of these so called 'giants' of European football. They'd rather keep scrutinizing City and trying to find something with which to beat us over the head. As for Arabic owners at The Swamp and Klanfield - we'd have to sit back and enjoy the discomfort of those wishing to redirect the 'oil cnut' narrative to justify the red investment, whilst seeking to differentiate it from City and keep us as the bad guys. Thanks for your comments.

  4. November 30, 2022  5:07 pm by Pete Reply

    Could the Americans be leaving as they failed to monopolise the Premier League. They were then unable to bleed Europe dry as well.
    Good riddance... hopefully this will discourage the other chancers
    Wishing to make a fast buck.
    I welcome real investors to our game raising the standards of the Premier League further.

    • November 30, 2022  6:00 pm by David Walker Reply

      It appears their business model isn't best suited to the thrills and spills and 'jeopardy' of English football - where clubs can and do get relegated - rather than having the protection and comfort blanket of so many US based sports. If the Yanks are leaving the respective reds it certainly dilutes American influence this side of the pond. Thanks for your comments.

  5. November 30, 2022  9:13 pm by Malcolm Gruber Reply

    You mention in passing Barcelona's financial mismanagement. Jordi Cruyff has publicly stated that Barcelona cannot sign anyone in the January window, and it makes my blood boil that this doesn't get the coverage it would if City were similarly handicapped.

    • December 2, 2022  9:32 am by David Walker Reply

      It was ever thus but, putting your understandable annoyance aside, isn't it great to see the Catalan crooks pleading poverty and yet still pretending to be major players in European football? I bet they love a good Thursday night at the Nou Camp. Such hypocrisy and double standards are now the norm and they'll still be seeking to unsettle Bernardo next summer. Sadly, we are well accustomed to the media turning a blind eye to the indiscretions and cheating of so-called European 'aristocracy', whilst continuing their pursuit of denigrating City, albeit with a complete lack of evidence. Thanks for your comment.

  6. December 1, 2022  5:55 pm by Superfun Happy Slide Reply

    My God, David . . . Leao in Manchester Blue would be so interesting. The man is a force of nature on Italian pitches; a smoothness that's so graceful that it disguises just how easily his strides eat up turf and the distance between backlines in full retreat. How would that vision of footballer-in-motion translate to Pep's world? With a left foot on the chalk, the bad guys would be put into so many unhappy choices with Haaland pushing towards the penalty area; a four man backline just isn't enough humanity to compensate for that kind of pace and atheticism. Or . . . or maybe Leao in Pep's system would be like putting a beautiful winged predator in a confined space. Leao in full flight, in Italy, where the opposition doesn't feel as athletic or dogged as what happen in the Premiership, may be an Italy-only pleasure. In that sense, just in terms of a neutral enjoying a foot-forward talent, perhaps there's too many team-first obligations to playing at the Etihad. I'm torn! Help!

    • December 2, 2022  9:26 am by David Walker Reply

      Two words - Trust Pep! If - if - City sign Leao, Guardiola will know exactly how he wants him to play and how he will fit into City's tactical pattern. Thanks for your insight on the player and for reading RBNR.

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