Manchester City’s poor transfer dealings the last several windows have allowed the club to lose its English core, to be passed by Chelsea and caught by Arsenal and Manchester United. Again this summer, City’s buying and selling appear to be belated and perhaps based more on hopefulness and naivety than reality.
The Blues have already let reasonable targets like Danny Ings sign with Liverpool while failing to resign James Milner whose performances have had a great bearing on all of the club’s recent successes. Micah Richards, who came through City’s Academy and became an England International, also left the campaign on a free transfer. Richards started the majority of matches during the Blues’ 2011-12 Premier League title run.
In the past week, there have been reports that Chelsea has entered the fray in chasing Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling. The failure to land Sterling, widely acknowledged as the best young English player, would represent a colossal failure for the club.
Sterling ticks all the boxes for the Blues: Young, English, pacey, filling a real need and someone who can stay with the club for years. Manchester City is having a very difficult time filling home grown player slot requirement under Premier League rules and badly need some youth and pace in the side. The club’s wide players have largely underwhelmed in recent seasons, running through the likes of Adam Johnson, Scott Sinclair and Jesus Navas. Each of those three out-and-out wingers had severe limitations on their game and, in general, lacked an end product.
At 20 years of age, Sterling would give the Blues something entirely different. A player who has already demonstrated he can be deployed in multiple roles and has an end product would provide a tremendous upgrade to the club. Sterling, as perhaps the next great English player, would also be highly marketable despite his somewhat checkered off-the-pitch reputation. Sterling’s ability to finish chances, make the right runs and help lead quick counter attacks would add a dimension to Manchester City that has been not quite clicking on all cylinders last season – pace and positioning in the 18 yard box were two of the major frustrations in Manchester City’s underwhelming title defense last year.
But oddly, Manchester City have been lowballing Liverpool in the attempts to acquire the Reds winger, coming well short of the required asking price. Given the numerous transfer failures of the club in the last several windows, and the feeling that the Blues are falling down the Premier League pecking order, the club now needs a quick and decisive strategy to change the narrative and make a signature transfer. However, if reports are to be believed, Chelsea, who have a recent history of late swoops for players sought by rival Premier League clubs, could very well to land Sterling. Chelsea were able to hijack Willian’s potential move to Spurs in 2013 and Mohammed Salah’s likely move to Liverpool in 2014. Will 2015 see Sterling ripped from Manchester City and end up at Chelsea, who face a similar problem as the Citizens with regards to homegrown players?
Should Manchester City miss out on Sterling, they will need to aggressively shop the continent for a winger that can contribute to the side now. But having failed to land an England international, the club will need to identify another target or two that fits the homegrown requirement. Given the recent failures in the transfer market of the club, it is entirely possible the Blues brass have not yet identified such targets or won’t be able to close the deals even if they have.
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