Pep Guardiola has been credited for doing a lot of good things at Manchester City. From winning their first Premier League title under Roberto Mancini to becoming the favourites every season under Pep Guardiola, City have truly taken the next step under the former Barcelona manager.
However, there is an argument that Guardiola inherited most of the pieces of his chess design at City. That in hindsight, Guardiola has only made the squad worse with his choice of signings over due course.
There is proof in the pudding, with the 2020/21 squad still being ‘carried’ a lot by performances from players inherited by Guardiola and that the arrivals have, as of yet, failed to replace the players that have since moved on.
Let us take a look at five of Guardiola’s worst Manchester City signings from the club’s perspective. The point is to be noted is that we have only considered signings ideally meant for the first-team and not for the future.
Brought in by Pep Guardiola to facilitate a smooth transition to his style of play at Manchester City, with Joe Hart unable to be the ball-playing sweeper-keeper as desired by the former Barcelona manager, Claudio Bravo failed to live up to the standards.
His debut season was his best one, in terms of game time, with the Chilean starting 22 Premier League games. However, Bravo managed to keep only 6 clean sheets, conceding 26 goals in the process as Manchester City finished a lowly third in the Premier League.
Guardiola dove into the market again in the summer of 2017 to sign Brazilian keeper Ederson, who since became the undisputed first-choice at Etihad. Bravo made a total of 61 appearances, 30 of which came in his first season, in four years at Manchester City, having never managed to leave a lasting impression.
Bravo wasn’t the worst signing by any means at €18 million, considering Chelsea’s acquisition of Kepa soon after. But, the Chilean failed to do what he was brought in for, which is why he is on this list.
Hailed as the successor to Vincent Kompany as he arrived at Manchester City, who staved off competition from just about every other Premier League bigwig, John Stones started out strong, quickly becoming a regular at the back for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Stones enjoyed quite a healthy run as a regular at City and rose in stature within the English national team as well. However, the 2019/20 season proved to be a disaster for the former Everton defender. Stones seemed to have regressed and failed to show authority at the back.
The 26-year-old cut far from an assured figure in defence and was part of a City side that ended the season in second place, 18 points behind champions Liverpool.
Quite a fall from grace for Stones, who was part of the defensive setup that won Manchester City back-to-back league titles before the 2019/20 season. The English international is now on the fringes as City look to offload the defender. For a player who was brought in for over €50 million, this is far from what Pep Guardiola would have expected in return.
Another La Liga import from Pep Guardiola’s first season at Manchester City, Nolito came from Celta Vigo on the back of two impressive campaigns, with a total of 25 goals and 20 assists over the course of the said two seasons.
However, the former Barcelona B player never really managed to get going at City, managing a lowly return of 4 goals and 2 assists in 19 Premier League appearances. Playing second fiddle to fellow summer arrival Leroy Sane, Nolito was quickly offloaded in the subsequent summer window, with Manchester City incurring a hefty loss on the overall deal as Sevilla welcomed the Spaniard back in La Liga.
The transfer not only proved to be financially detrimental to City but also saw Nolito’s career take a nosedive. The Spaniard is yet to be able to touch double figures once again after his Manchester City transfer. A horrible transfer for all parties involved.
Since Guardiola’s arrival, the former Barcelona manager has incurred the most cost while trying to find the right players to fill the full-back slots at Manchester City. Danilo was liable for a portion of it. The Brazilian found his way to Etihad from Real Madrid, with Guardiola sanctioning a €30 million transfer.
Benjamin Mendy’s injury meant he was a regular at left-back for City in his maiden Premier League campaign. Danilo was decent in the title-winning campaign and held his own to an extent. However, his attacking contribution was a letdown, considering the amount of time he spent in the final third of the opposition half and Guardiola’s tactical setup.
The 2018-19 campaign though, proved to be excruciating for Danilo, who not only lost his place at left-back but saw his manager prefer starting Aymeric Laporte over him in the said position. By the end of the season, the Brazilian was an afterthought for the position and was rightly shipped off to Juventus in a player plus cash deal that saw Joao Cancelo come to City.
Danilo was, once again, far from a horrible transfer. But, this deal and how it turned out once again showed Guardiola’s inability to find the right players to replace the existing ones and improve the squad.
While Angelino was a contender to be on this list, the sheer cost of the transfer that saw Benjamin Mendy come to City from AS Monaco aided the cause. The Frenchman came over in the summer of 2017 on the back of a wondrous campaign with AS Monaco, with the Ligue 1 club’s squad metaphorically decimated by the European bigwigs after a revelation of a 2016/17 season.
However, in his fourth season now, Mendy has struggled to remain fit and has failed to touch the 20 appearances mark for a season in the Premier League. So much so, that the French international has made only 61 appearances for his club since arriving from AS Monaco.
The 26-year-old has made 5 appearances in the 2020/21 Premier League but has already had an injury problem in the new season. Even though he is back in the side now, the Frenchman may find his place under serious threat with Guardiola recruiting Nathan Ake in the summer.
Going by the Danilo trajectory, we could ideally see Mendy leave in the upcoming transfer window(s) and City are likely to incur a heavy loss once again, unlikely to recoup much of the above €50 million fee they paid to Monaco for the Frenchman.
Once again, City have had to pay financially for Guardiola’s failure to find the right solution for his squad issues.