Champions, Manchester City, have not made their usually massive outlay in the transfer market this season for two major reasons; Manuel Pellegrini’s squad is vast and soaked in quality, and Uefa’s financial fair play regulations have finally come into effect, ruling that the Arab petro-dollar funded club are required to make a net spend this summer of just £49m
Hence the sale of the once promising young (but permanently injured) midfielder, Jack Rodwell, to Sunderland for £10m. The knock-on effect of this transaction then made City move to bring in 36 year old Frank Lampard on a free transfer until he begins his U.S Major League Soccer career next March. Lampard went straight into Pellegrini’s 21 man squad for the Champions League in order to fulfil the Uefa quota of a minimum 5 home-grown English players.
The complexities of running such an emerging force in European football do not seem to faze the coolly disposed Pellegrini. The Chilean will be under more pressure this season to progress further in Europe, and the sensible additions of Fernando, Sagna, Caballero, and the only real splurge in £32m Porto defender Mangala, should quietly strengthen the City squad without ruffling too many feathers or giant egos.
Bacary Sagna was brought in from Arsenal on a free transfer to give back-up to the ever reliable Pablo Zabaleta. Fernando provides a more energetic covering option in midfield than the plodding Javi Garcia, and Willy Caballero is a goalkeeper who can give Joe Hart serious competition between the sticks. The 23 year old Frenchman, Eliaquim Mangala, could be the key signing of the summer for Pellegrini; the young centre-back is seen as the long-term partner for Vincent Kompany and the only real hole left to fill in this galactic squad. Martin Demichelis may have improved over the course of last season but, at 33, his lack of pace and occasional lapse in concentration have cost City dearly, especially against higher quality centre-forwards in the Champions League.
In forward area’s there has been no real need to add players, as Stefan Jovetic should take part in his first full English season after an injury plagued 18 months. The Montenegrin striker will give Pellegrini four great options up front, alongside Sergio Aguero (23 goals & 8 assists from 29 games in the PL & CL), Edin Dzeko (18 & 2 from 38) and Alvaro Negredo (14 & 4 from 40). Of course, City’s top performer and scorer last term was not a forward but a midfielder, their talismanic power-house Yaya Toure. If the great Ivorian can repeat his colossal League campaign of 20 goals & 9 assists from 35 matches played, then City will be in with a great chance of being only the third club (behind Manchester United & Chelsea) to retain the Premier League title.