For the past ten years, Manchester City has not made an offer to a domestic rival; this summer, that is about to change.
When it comes to being the dominant force in English football, Manchester City has adhered to some hard-to-miss principles: avoid fortifying an opponent whenever possible, and weaken an opponent whenever an opportunity to do so arises.
The last player the club offered to a rival was Emmanuel Adebayor to Tottenham back in 2012. Since then, they have negotiated deals with Arsenal for Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, and Samir Nasri, Chelsea for Frank Lampard, Liverpool for Raheem Sterling, and Tottenham for Kyle Walker.
Limiting the damage when you sell a player is smart business, which is why City was more relaxed about offering Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich than an English team and surprisingly felt better when Dortmund came in for wanted player Jadon Sancho in 2017. The Blues realized they needed to sell but were finding it difficult to stomach tolerating a bid from the interested English sides given the more pronounced potential for it to show them up on a more cynical level.
Why, therefore, is Txiki Begiristain happy to accept Chelsea’s Sterling offer and Gabriel Jesus’ invitation to join Arsenal this summer? What has changed to indicate that City is prepared to support their opponents
The financial situation can help make sense of some of that. English teams were at that point producing and earning more money than those on the mainland before the pandemic, to the point where a survey in 2018 found that 17 of the top 20 recipients of broadcasting incomes in Europe were English clubs.
There are fewer clubs that can afford the transfer fees and wages that are typical of the top teams in the Premier League since everyone is experiencing the effects of the recent global health crises. The most logical route for them to take in order to depart the Etihad is to locate another team in the same division.
However, there is something else that is having an affect on everything, especially the increased confidence within the City Football Academy’s walls that they will be able to hold off competitors due to the remaining transfer business they have done and are doing. There is no aversion to cooperating with and assisting Arsenal or Chelsea this summer, despite the fact that offers from Liverpool now don’t seem to be able to be put to that test.
When City agreed to a £750,000 price for teenage striker Charlie McNeill to join United instead of challenging the decision in court, such a change in attitude should have been obvious at the ground level a long time ago.
The Blues believed that the rest of the team had enough talent that having one of them let his contract expire would not be the end of the world, especially because they could receive a six-figure fee that could reach £1.35 million.
McNeill has excelled at United and was one of their FA Youth Cup winners this year, but City’s success in the league at the Under-18 and Under-23 levels in each of the many years after the transfer would support their suspicion at that stage. City’s suffering has not been to the benefit of Joined.
With Jesus and Sterling, it’s similar today. Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez, who are making their professional debuts, will both limit the two players’ playing time, and Haaland in particular is predicted to start many games, especially the crucial ones.
If they join rival teams, Jesus and Sterling could both hinder City’s chances of winning the league the following season, and every victory they had over their previous team would increase scrutiny of whether the Blues were ultimately wise to accept the deal. However, Begiristain and Pep Guardiola are both certain that the team they have put together will be strong enough to avoid being ruined by players they were happy to sell.