Txiki Begiristain is a name you don’t forget in a hurry even if it can take a while to pronounce correctly.
As Manchester City’s Director of Football he plays a critical role in shaping the club’s transfer purchases and sales, along with vital inputs from Pep Guardiola, CEO Ferran Soriano and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Steered by Pep’s judgement calls, the powerful quartet decide on new targets and the price the club is willing to pay to acquire new players.
Similarly, Pep and Txiki work closely in deciding who to sell or release – for whatever reasons – as they strive for continuous improvement and maintaining City’s challenge for titles and trophies.
With the summer transfer window well and truly open and the likes of Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez, Kalvin Phillips and, one suspects Marc Cucurella being added to Pep’s squad, there’s an obvious turnover of players with some big names heading out the door.
Club captain and a City favourite for the past nine years, Fernandinho has returned to Atletico Paranaense – his first professional club in his native Brazil – on a free transfer, with the blessings and thanks of every City fan.
Gabriel Jesus – eager for regular starts and game time – has been reunited with Mikel Arteta in a £45m switch to Arsenal, whereas Raheem Sterling’s seven year stint at the Etihad appears to have run its course, with a £50m+ transfer to Chelsea pending.
It’s all part and parcel of the modern day game as familiar faces move on and new icons move in.
You only have to look at the illustrious list of players who have left in recent times to see how well City’s transfer gurus have handled the departures of those who seemed irreplaceable. Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Dino have all gone, but City’s class and quality has not diminished.
Txiki, Pep & Co have presided over a transfer policy of timely evolution rather than revolution during the past six years, but there seems to be a subtle change this summer when it comes to the CFA’s up and coming talents.
If recent days and weeks are anything to go by City are conducting excellent short term and medium term business like never before, with a new emphasis on the ‘BBC’ – the buy-back clause.
Having buy back and/or sell-on clauses are nothing new – City made a tidy killing of £11m when Jadon Sancho switched from Borussia Dortmund to the Trafford Thursday Nighters – courtesy of a 15% sell on clause, negotiated when the former CFA youngster switched to Germany for £8m in August 2017.
A combination of pragmatism, business acumen and opportunism has suddenly seen a glut of outgoings of CFA ‘undergraduates’ delivering a healthy return of circa £50m to the club. There may yet be more – substantially more – to come.
Highly rated keeper Gavin Bazunu (20) has gone to Southampton for an initial £12m, potentially rising to £15m. Defensive midfielder Romeo Lavia (18) is set to follow him to St. Mary’s in a £10m deal, whereas box-to-box midfielder Darko Gyabi (18) seems destined for Leeds United in a £5m transaction. The perceived wisdom is that all three deals contain buy-back clauses.
Winger Samuel Edozie (19) looks set for a £10m move to Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, but whether or not City are insisting on buy back or sell on clauses remains to be seen.
There’s another potential deal in the pipeline concerning Issa Kaboré, a right back voted the Best Young Player at the African Cup of Nations earlier in the year.
Having spent last season on loan playing for ESTAC Troyes – the City Football Group’s French club – in Ligue 1, he’s a player who might not be familiar to many City fans. The 21-year old defender made a total of 31 appearances and registered two assists in the process. In addition he already has 27 caps for Burkina Faso and was an outstanding performer at the AFCON.
Kaboré is now the focus of an expected bid from Nottingham Forest, with the Premier League newcomers seeking to strengthen their defence. The size of any fee has still to be determined – if indeed City are prepared to deal.
If they do, it would further reflect the new emphasis on seeing if the CFA kids have what it takes to make the grade, via third parties.
It’s a clever strategy which should deliver a ‘win-win’ scenario for City. The club rakes in tens of millions of pounds in the short term, yet retains the option to capitalise on the benefits if the youngsters flourish and graduate in top flight football.
Whether the policy will extend to the likes of other EDS stars including James McAtee, Liam Delap, Kayky, Joshua Wilson-Esbrand, Finley Burns, Oscar Bobb and the like, remains to be seen.
Luke Mbete has just signed a new three year contract extension to stay at the Etihad, whereas Cole Palmer is already nailed on as an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s first team squad in 2022/23.
There is one deal that has caused some surprise among City fans, that of C J Egan-Riley, who has signed for Burnley on a permanent basis. City should receive a ‘Training Compensation’ fee for developing him through the ranks of the CFA, but his contract has expired after 10 years at the Etihad. It’s a deal that could be worth up to £1m if a number of targets are reached, with a 30% sell on clause.
Just to show there’s still life in loan deals, Taylor Harwood-Bellis will also be heading to Turf Moor for a reunion with new boss Vincent Kompany, having previously worked with him at Anderlecht.
The overall ‘BBC’ business model should be a winner for all parties; City gain substantial income, whereas the buying clubs and the players are displaying greater levels of commitment to each other, well above and beyond mere loans.
If, as and when, City are suitably impressed with their former graduates and are prepared to pay the buy back clauses, it will be a further endorsement of time and money well spent.
Dedicated to a premium City supporter and top, top man – Pat Higgins, Chairman of the Gloucester & Cheltenham Branch of City’s Official Supporters Club – affectionately known as ‘Blue Leader’, as he fights his own pre-season health challenges before Pep and the team return to action.
By David Walker
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu