Perhaps this summer, more than any other, is the one where Manchester City comes good. After pipping Arsenal for automatic Champions League qualification last season, City are not in need of a major overhaul; some steady summer planning would do just fine.
For fans expecting to see the Citizens splash large amounts of money on star quality from around the continent, Roberto Mancini’s actions thus far might have come as a little of a disappointment. Instead of bidding tens of millions on luxury players, City’s transfer activity so far this summer has been circumspect and carefully planned.
Already, the club has signed two players of the type needed to succeed; a young Montenegrin defender, and a left back with Champions League experience to his name. While Stefan Savic and Gael Clichy are not footballers who provide many column inches to the transfer obsessed reporter, they are two players who are likely to add solidity to what already is a very strong squad.
It would have been very easy for City to not follow up on interest in low cost players like Clichy and Savic, and instead register thirty million pound bids for the likes of Maicon, Dani Alves and Fabio Coentrao. Such activity would not have been atypical of the City that fans have come to know over the last few seasons. In the past the club have been more interested in making headlines than building a successful team.
City are strengthening in areas that need to be strengthened. Last year full backs like Aleksander Kolarov and Jerome Boateng were unimpressive, so moves for a youngster and a Premier League veteran to occupy those positions is logical business. In years gone by, City would not have been interested in a player like Savic, a defender who commands no real reputation, and who is unknown to all but the most attentive followers of the game in Europe. However, the City of 2011 is a different, a more mature proposition, a team ready to build for the future as opposed to milking the present.
After sealing the signings of Savic and Clichy this week, the next order of business will be to settle the Carlos Tevez situation; first by finding a suitable club to sell to, and second by arranging for a replacement. So far, all the signs have been good, City have made it clear that they are in no rush to sell the striker and are ready to wait for the right bid to come in.
On the evidence of their intelligent work so far this summer, City will not be tricked into selling to one of their English rivals. If Tevez were to move to Chelsea then the transfer would represent the footballing equivalent of suicide.
However, assuming that Tevez’s desire really is to leave England, then that is a problem that City will not have to face, a whole can of worms that will not have to be opened. City’s major occupation for the rest of the summer is likely to be the search for Tevez’s replacement, a quest that must be completed promptly, but with all due consideration as well.
It will be interesting to see in which direction Roberto Mancini takes his search. As we all know, City have the funds to finance a move for one of Europe’s hottest properties, but their activity thus far indicates that they may be willing to move for a younger, less high profile target. While players like Sergio Aguero, Edinson Cavani and Gonzalo Higuain will all be linked, it could be someone starring at one of Europe’s peripheral teams who gets the nod. After all, City already have star power up top in Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.
There is no doubt that between now and the end of the summer City will add to the two players that they signed this week, but their future splurges are more likely to be about quality rather than quantity, signing that one promising youngster as opposed to a whole starting XI of overrated, high earning stars.