Here’s the deal. You’re Pep Guardiola and you’re looking to buy a brand new car. Your existing motor has too many miles on the clock and isn’t up to the job of taking you where you want to go.
You need to trade up, but even though you’re aiming high, you still have to work within a budget – what do you do?
It’s always nice to have a speedy model with a big engine – be it of English, French or Brazilian extraction – just as long as it’ll run all day and deliver a great performance up and down the outside lanes.
Safe handling, excellent grip – especially on corners – and a faultless stopping capacity, is a priority, especially when your existing vehicle from South America is a bit dodgy.
Of course, you want an eye-catching number, something impressive that’ll move smoothly through the gears and not look out of place, even if was to compete at Monaco.
Your current car was leased over three years ago and is due to go back, but ideally you want to pay slightly less per month, but for a much better car.
So, how’s that going to work?
Try this for size.
By putting money down up front, taking the car over four years, instead of three, and doing a PCP deal rather than a lease, you can reduce the monthly costs by nearly £40.
That monthly reduction should save you nearly £2,000 over the life of the deal, which is more than the £1,000 you’ll have to put down as an initial deposit.
But what the hell has all this car malarkey to do with Manchester City’s summer transfer dealings you might ask?
City are the first Premier League club to have ever spent more than £200m in a single transfer window, and there’s probably at least another £100m to go before the window closes on August 31st.
Such perceptions of profligacy sit at the core of the ridiculous, green-eyed assertion that City are somehow ‘ruining football’.
Time for some ‘out of left field’ thinking and analysis of what appears to be an extravagant policy of spend, spend, spend…and then spend a bit more.
It’s an outrageous hypothesis, but as things stand, what if City have actually spent next to nothing in this summer, when viewed as part of a longer term fiscal strategy?
Having fallen foul of UEFA’s wholly inappropriate and ill- founded, Financial Fair Play rules, (if ever there was a contradiction in terms FFP is it), City will make damn sure they never do so again.
So how can City’s Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak and CEO, Ferran Soriano, reconcile a projected £300m spend on transfer fees, let alone the multi- million pound salaries of the new players?
Of course, there’s a flip side to the glut of big money signings, and that is the selling/offloading of existing players to help balance the books.
For years now, Arsenal fans have loved the concept of ‘net spend’, comparing fees out and fees in.
The smaller the difference the better in their eyes, as they cling to the misguided idea that the Gunners have been wronged by other clubs who are prepared to pay big transfer fees and wages.
But there’s a lot more to it than simply comparing the amount paid out on incoming transfer fees and the sums raised from the sale of outgoing players – hence the car analogy, where you can sometimes get more for less.
The same principle can, to a large degree, be applied to footballers.
To illustrate the point, let’s go back to June when a number of player contracts ran out, specifically, Caballero, Zabaleta, Clichy, Sagna, Navas and Yaya Toure.
Only Yaya was retained – reportedly taking a pay cut – on a new one year deal.
Another four senior players had been loaned out in 2016/17, namely Hart, Mangala, Nasri & Bony, with their days at the Etihad numbered.
Hart has already gone on loan to West Ham for the new season, where City will subsidise his wages but get a loan fee in the region of £4.5m.
The other three will presumably be sold, regrettably for less than City paid, but at least they’ll be off the wage bill and will generate incoming transfer revenue.
Bony is set for a return to Swansea, whereas there are no firm takers for Mangala and Nasri at this point. Kolarov is back in Rome and Nolito has joined Sevilla in sunny Spain.
Fernando looks bound for Galatasaray in Turkey, whereas Kelechi Iheanacho is set to switch to Leicester City. City are reportedly holding out for £14m from Stoke for Fabian Delph.
The sale of a quartet of players who didn’t even make a competitive first team City appearance – Mooy, Unal, Zuculini and Ntcham – brought in a combined fee in the region of £27m. Every little helps.
City could and should get at least £110m in fees for all the outgoing players - and that's being a little on the conservative side.
Wages saved are more difficult to quantify, but the clever money would have City paying something in the region of £45m a year to the players who have left the club, or who City are seeking to sell.
Based on those figures, City will save £225m in wages over the next five years, as well as generating a transfer cash injection of £110m – that’s £325m to the good, up until 2022.
City have so far paid out £210m acquiring Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, Ederson, Danilo, Bernardo Silva and Douglas Luiz.
Their collective annual salaries are likely to be in the region of £20m, meaning a projected outlay of another £100m up until 2022. Add the transfer fees and salaries together and you have a total of £310m.
Based solely on the transfer buys so far in this window, and the premise they sell the players deemed surplus to Guardiola’s requirements, City could conceivably be £15m better off over the next five years.
Even if the salaries of the new half dozen players was £25m per annum, rather than £20m, City will still pretty well balance the books over the five-year period.
It’s a subjective game of numbers, but one that Pep believes will drive City’s Premier League and Champions League ambitions, leaving the club’s detractors as mere specks in the rear view mirror.
By David Walker & Colin Savage
Colin Savage is a lifelong City fan, well respected for his knowledge and insight on financial and political aspects of football in general, and Manchester City in particular. A contributor to the King of the Kippax fanzine, you can follow him on Twitter @PrestwichBlue.