Eric Garcia was expected to leave Manchester City in the just concluded transfer window having turned down a chance to renew his contract with the club. The 19-year-old had his sights set on a return to home club Barcelona where he came through La Masia before moving to England in 2017.
The Spanish giants have been struggling in recent times and are in the middle of a rebuild. Garcia saw this as the perfect opportunity to return home and slot into Ronald Koeman’s new side. But with a year still left on his contract, he had two options. Convince Barcelona to meet Man City’s valuation and secure his services straight away, or run down the remaining year and leave next summer on a free.
City’s valuation was £20million. But the Spanish outfit offered less. It’s likely that the Catalan side felt City had no other option than to sell as the player would leave for free in less than a year’s time. Unfortunately for them (and for Garcia as well who had his mind set on leaving), the Blues’ hierarchy held firm to the valuation turning down a final offer of £18million on deadline day.
City’s Chief Operating Officer Omar Berrada has explained the club’s stance in an interview.
“Eric has developed into an important player for us and played some important games, especially in the last few months – semi-finals of the FA Cup, quarter-finals of the Champions League,” the City chief said.
“He’s become a top young centre back who Pep trusts, and we feel that keeping him this season was worth more than what we were offered for him.
“We believe that he can add depth to the squad, and can be important in important games.
“This is a season that is going to be very difficult for the players, physically and mentally. It’s very congested, there will be a lot of pressure to play many games both in terms of club competitions but also the international games that they have to play, so it is all very concentrated and congested.”
Barreda’s explanation makes sense given the prevailing circumstances brought about by Covid-19. There’s a need for adequate cover especially in the defence for City as the team has struggled to cope with the weight of playing in different competitions in the last two campaigns.
What is also clear here is Pep Guardiola’s liking for the player. That has played a key role in his stay. The City boss rates his young countryman highly and sees him as the ideal backup for both of Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte.
With the club competing on different fronts and having to cope with a tight fixture schedule, there will be a need for rotation. Garcia could prove very valuable in this regard especially if injuries occur as has been the case in the last two years.
Benjamin Mendy, John Stones and Laporte have become prone to injuries and so having sufficient backup is important. That could make the difference between competing for titles and losing out spectacularly as was the case last term.
In the end, it does seem the pain inflicted on City and Guardiola for failing to replace Vincent Kompany last term has led directly to this decision. That is why keeping the centre-back until season’s end was worth more to the club than Barcelona’s £18million.