Unsurprisingly, Manchester City are not a selling club.
Once upon a time, City were pretty far down the food chain when it came to transfers, with little they could do if one of the traditional European big boys entered the race for a player or came calling for one of the Blues’ own talents.
Times have changed and now the best players in the world want to play for Pep Guardiola’s side. However, from time to time, some decide that they want to leave.
As shown by the becalming of a situation that threatened to turn into a series of destabilizing departures last summer, Guardiola and director of football Txiki Begiristain have mastered the perfect selling policy.
Last summer, a small but significant number of City players wanted to leave the club. Guardiola confirmed that Bernardo Silva sought a transfer for the second consecutive summer, while Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling were also believed to be among those open to a move, as per The Athletic.
Their requests were met by a blunt response from Guardiola.
“When they bring some offer and they want to leave we are open to discuss but it depends on them,” I explained bluntly at the start of this season.
In other words, find a suitor who is willing to make a reasonable offer and we’ll do business, if not then you stay and honor your contract. Obviously, none of them did leave, and all those mentioned have played pivotal roles in City’s impressive campaign thus far.
Of the quartet, Sterling’s form took the longest to turn around. In the autumn, Barcelona were rumored to be circulating but nothing happened. Before long, the England forward found a rich vein of form and there are fresh hopes he will sign a renewed deal beyond 2023.
Some don’t like this hard-ball approach, as they see City as missing out on fees for players who don’t want to be there that could be added to the transfer kitty.
Yet with all four of those players, it looks like City made the right call. All are just as committed to the cause as they have ever been and each has put in some exceptional performances in the months since they were presumed to be looking elsewhere.
The same strategy has been seen in the sales of Leroy Sane and Ferran Torres, proof that City’s stance is not damaging to the club, especially if it brings healthy profits.
City earned £54million from the sale of Sane to Bayern Munich in 2020, a move he had set his heart on the summer before. Had it not been for a cruciate ligament rupture keeping him on the sidelines for the best part of a year, the German would have likely commanded a fee double that, but City still made a tidy profit on the man they bought from Schalke 04 for £ 37m.
A few weeks later Begiristain signed off £20m – rising to £30m with bonuses – of the Sane money on Ferran Torres. Ferran developed well in Manchester, but when Barcelona showed the interest most of us presumed was being directed towards Sterling, he could not refuse.
Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester City! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive City coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to City fans – City Is Ours.
Writers and presenters who share your passion for the blue side of Manchester will be producing written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.
City understood his desire to return to his country of birth, but told him to bring a good offer. Barcelona gave City an initial fee of £46.7m for Torres – which could rise to £55m with add-ons – representing another healthy profit on a player City had signed only 16 months before.
Now City are on the verge of completing the singing of young Argentinian striker Julian Alvarez for a comparatively modest fee of £17.9m, again finding a replacement at a good price.
Of course, in an ideal world City would not have sold either Sane or Torres. But if their stance on players leaving is firm, at least it is fair.
Based on the performances of those who ended up staying and those brought in as replacements, the club likely won’t change their strategy any time soon.
What do you make of City’s policy on players leaving? Follow our City Is Ours writer Alex Brotherton on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.