It’s finally over. Four months of feverish speculation and twenty-four hours of frenzied action later, and the transfer window has slammed shut for Manchester City. For the fans it was an underwhelming period – hopes of marquee signings dashed, the manager frustrated by the lack of activity, main targets missed- but with a late flurry, the squad was finally strengthened. Only time will tell by how much. With their main competitors all strengthening over the summer, City will be pushed hard this season to continue their period of success.
The best deals were for existing staff
Forget the hopes of signing De Rossi, Hazard or Martinez, City’s best business was sealed by those who stayed rather than those who arrived. Early summer saw a host of rumours about the futures of Yaya Toure, David Silva and the manager Roberto Mancini, linked with jobs for the Italian and Russian national teams. Worries over the two players were soon quelled, whilst Mancini signed a lucrative new contract. The only concern that remains is the failure of Silva to sign a new contract, something the club will want to resolve as soon as possible.
Getting rid of the “deadwood”
As for those that did leave, it was a successful window for City, getting rid of many of the players long deemed surplus to requirements. Roque Santa Cruz left on a season-long loan to Malaga, and Emmanuel Adebayor eventually sorted a deal for a permanent move to Tottenham Hotspur. Adam Johnson, a player that most City fans never really warmed to (great as a substitute, less so as a starter), moved for good money to Sunderland. The only disappointment came with Nigel De Jong’s late move to AC Milan. Hugely popular with City fans, it was sad, and rather baffling, to see him to go. Presumably he had rejected a new contract or asked for too much money, and City felt it better to get some money now rather than pay his wages for a season and see him leave for free next summer. It is also possible that Mancini felt his style slowed down play for City. Either way, he will be missed.
Missing Out On Marquee signings
City’s failure to capture their main targets can be traced back to the moment Chelsea won the Champions League. It all went downhill after that. Eden Hazard plumped for Chelsea instead of City, whilst Robin Van Persie, a player City didn’t really need once Tevez returned slimmer and raring to go, went to neighbours Manchester United. Another prime target Javi Martinez went to Bayern Munich whilst Daniele De Rossi opted to stay at Roma, and Mancini’s frustration grew by the day, sniping at City’s Football Administration Officer, Brian Marwood. Eventually though breakthroughs were mad and a whole host of players arrived late in August.
The new signings
Jack Rodwell – A surprise signing and City’s only significant arrival going into the closing days of the window, the 21-year-old signed from Everton for £12m. Previously courted by Manchester United but hampered by injuries throughout his career, he will operate in much the same area as De Jong did, though hopefully with some forays further up the field occasionally. Mancini threw him straight into the team but rumours of an injury already may be a sign of things to come.
Scott Sinclair - Another signing that came as something as a surprise, Sinclair was signed from Swansea after protracted negotiations, for a fee believed to be £6.2m. Not an obvious first-team signing, he is presumably a replacement for the departed Adam Johnson. Adding to City’s home-grown quota (along with Rodwell), he will give City much-needed pace out wide and Mancini will hope he will develop further to challenge for a first-team spot.
Maicon – Another surprise signing that few saw coming. In a cut-price deal thought to only be a few million pounds, the 31-year-old Brazilian moved from Inter Milan in the last days of the transfer window. Once one of the best full-backs in the world and having worked under Mancini at Inter, he is generally thought to be past his best, many citing his double-grilling at the hands of Gareth Bale two seasons ago. The signing got a muted response from many City fans. However, he still has much to offer and comes with a wealth of experience. He may be utilised as a wing-back when Mancini chooses to favour the 3-5-2 formation.
Matija Nastasic – Another player comfortable in a 3-5-2 formation having played in a back three for Fiorentina, from whom City signed him, with Stefan Savic going in the opposite direction (City offloading another player who hadn’t succeeded at the club). The 19-year-old flourished at Fiorentina last season and is thought to be a composed, intelligent defender. City are buying potential and he won’t be walking into the first team just yet. Mancini will be happy if he does turn out to be the “new Vidic”, as has been mentioned in many a report.
Javi Garcia – Signed with minutes to go, Garcia was City’s biggest signing of the window, viewed as a replacement for De Jong. With a more-rounded game, he was signed for £16m from Benfica on deadline day, the deal announced half an hour after the deadline. At 25, he comes with a wealth of experience having also broken into the Spanish national team recently. He wasn’t Mancini’s primary target but is a player that should strengthen City as they look to retain the title.
Richard Wright – Another signing that raised a few eyebrows but the signing of 34-year-old Wright is little more than cover for City’s two senior goalkeepers. Bad injuries apart, he shouldn’t trouble the first team too much.
The end of the transfer window probably saw a frustrated manager and some frustrated fans but with a palpable sense of relief after a late flurry of activity. Buying late in the window is never preferable but it is fair to say that Manchester City strengthened during the summer though not as much as they had hoped. The signings of Hazard and De Rossi for example would have strengthened the first team to make it a force to be reckoned with at home and abroad.
But with targets choosing elsewhere and City’s management keeping a watchful eye on financial fair play rules, compromises had to be made and Mancini will hope that the secondary targets he eventually captured will develop to give him the squad strength he desires. With other team highly active in the transfer market, it will be a demanding season for City. But Maicon aside, the club have once more invested in young players, meaning the squad has a safe base for future years. With three British players arriving and excess baggage removed, Manchester City’s dealings have been carried out very much with various rules and regulations in mind.