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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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?
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.
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.
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