Despite having a successful season so far, Manchester City will need to make some signings in the summer to strengthen the squad. The obvious position to reinforce is upfront to fill the void left by Sergio Aguero. But that is not the only area of need.
The midfield and left-back positions are also areas to consider. Kevin De Bruyne will be 30 in June, Ilkay Gundogan is already 30 while Fernandinho is 36. The latter could follow Aguero out of the Etihad Stadium at the end of the campaign as he has not renewed his contract that also expires at season’s end.
So freshening up the bodies in the middle will definitely benefit the team. One or two signings may be required to stay ahead of the competition.
Pep Guardiola’s assertion that Manchester City may not sign a new striker in the summer to replace Aguero began to make more sense as the club announced significant losses last week. As is the case with other clubs across Europe, City have been financially affected by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The club has posted losses of £126million ($173m) for the 2019-20 season.
Although things will likely start returning to normal from next season, the club may need to make sacrifices. Therefore, important signings may not be made.
Unless the club is ready to offload some players to make room for new ones, Guardiola’s expectations may come true. One player the club can cash in on is Benjamin Mendy. The Frenchman seems to weaken the team every time he is on the pitch these days.
That has been happening for a long time, actually. At this point, something has to give. Either he improves or the club can find a replacement for a position that Guardiola has tried to fill by using centre-backs and midfielders in the last three years.
But even if the former Monaco man is sold, the money will be better reinvested into signing another left-back like Sporting Lisbon’s Nuno Mendes.
A Cost-effective Solution for the Midfield
For the midfield, City could find a way around the situation by bringing back a good player that has been maturing while on loan. Instead of spending a significant amount to sign a new defensive midfielder this summer, Yangel Herrera can be brought back to act as backup for Rodri.
The 22-year-old has been in outstanding form for Spanish La Liga side Granada this season. He gave a good account of himself when Granada faced Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Europa League recently proving his readiness for the big leagues. Not surprisingly, he is said to be attracting interest from Premier League teams like Southampton and West Ham and a number of Liga clubs.
The Venezuela midfielder has been with the Spanish club on a two-year loan which ends in the summer. Perfect timing you might say. For a player who joined City as a teenager in February 2017 and has been on loan spells at New York City FC and SD Huesca before spending the last two seasons in Granada, it’s about time he got a chance to play for City.
But Will This Work?
If you think he is not good enough even to play a backup role at City, his former coach disagrees.
“He’s a tactically intelligent midfielder who is strong in the tackle and reads the game well,” said Patrick Vieira who managed him at New York City FC.
“Yangel also has good passing range and spatial awareness, which is crucial for a player in his position.”
Yes, Herrera is not a like-for-like replacement for Fernandinho. But all things considered, he will be a good option to solve both on-field and financial problems for City in the meantime. And if after one season he is found wanting, he can then be sold.