When it comes to a team like Manchester City – one of the richest sides in the world, thanks to Qatari money – while results in the Premier League and Champions League aren’t guaranteed, the one certainty is that they’re always going to splash the cash when the transfer windows roll around.
Since the club’s takeover in 2008 City have spent some insane money; over a billion Euros in fact, on new players to strengthen the squad. During that time they’ve also gone through four managers – Mark Hughes, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and now Pep Guardiola – and have won the Premier League twice and have also claimed a handful of cup victories.
Which transfer window was the most successful for City, then? It’s tricky to say given the amount of hits and misses that the club have had in the market over the past decade, but here are my top five.
#5: Summer 2016/January 2017
Okay, so this one might be slightly cheating as I’ve lumped two transfer windows in together, but that’s because Man City only bought one player in the January 2017 window and that was Brazilian prospect Gabriel Jesus, who cost the club a cool £27m. He’s only made 18 appearances for his new club thus far but in those 18 appearances he’s looked like potentially one of the most dangerous strikers in the world and has already scored 12 goals.
2016/17 though was Pep Guardiola’s first season with the club and thus the players he signed were ones that fit his image of how football should be played – meaning tiki-taka with attacking moves starting by playing the ball out from the back. It didn’t all pan out well, admittedly.
Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who cost just over £15m, was a disastrous signing who cost City a lot of valuable points near the beginning of the season and ended up being dropped in favour of reserve keeper Willy Caballero at various points. And Spanish forward Nolito also struggled, only scoring 6 goals in 30 appearances and has already been sold.
On the plus side, though? Speedy winger Leroy Sane immediately fit into Pep’s side and played 26 games in the Premier League, earning a nomination for the PFA Young Player of the Year award in the process. Defender John Stones perhaps didn’t live up to his £47.5m price tag, but he remains one of the best prospects in the game and once his defensive prowess catches up with his Pep-loved ability to bring the ball out from the back, he may well prove to be a bargain.
Finally, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan started the season on fire – even scoring twice in a 3-1 Champions League victory over Barcelona – before injuring his knee, sidelining him for the rest of the season. If he can return to that kind of form though, the £20m paid for him wouldn’t sound like a lot of money at all.
Pep may not have won a trophy in his first season but his early signings may well pay dividends in the near future.