So far this summer, Manchester City have claimed their main targets. Erling Haaland, Kalvin Phillips and Stefan Ortega Moreno have all signed for the blues, but one vital component is missing – the left-back slot.
Brighton’s Marc Cucurella was identified early on by Pep Guardiola, and despite City’s interest being football’s worst-kept secret, the blues have so far not been able to agree a fee with the Seagulls and push a deal over the line.
It’s not for the want of trying; Cucurella is keen on a move north and wants to work with Guardiola, but the sticking point is the fee.
City valued the Spanish defender at £30m and made an appropriate offer. However, Brighton are holding out for £50m. Sportbible.com claim an agreement has been met, but there is nothing substantial, and the chances are that the two clubs are still wrangling over the price.
Should City Walk Away?
The blues are no longer a club that will be held to ransom over fees. That happened in the initial years of ADUG ownership, when prices for players City were interested in were suddenly elevated, knowing the blues had the money. But, with meeting FFP requirements, whatever they are these days, and a defiant stance to not pay over the odds for a player, City are now a club more inclined to play hardball.
Some may argue that that didn’t work when signing Jack Grealish, but by all accounts, the buy0out clause was £100m and City paid just that. When Spurs wanted a rumoured £150m+ for Harry Kane last summer, City tried to negotiate but walked away without hesitation.
The same will happen with Cucurella. And unless Brighton lower their valuation of the player and come to an agreement with the blues, it is possible they may be left with an unhappy player who wants to leave.
City’s opening bid was a little cheeky, an attempt to test the waters to see what Brighton’s initial response would be, but the Seagulls seem to have dug their heels in and will only accept what they want. That won’t work for the player. It may have been okay for Kane, playing for one of the league’s top clubs, but the situation will be very different for Cucurella.
If an agreement is not reached soon, it is highly likely that City will just cope without a recognised left-back. They did for almost all of last season when a certain full-back was suspended in September. Then, City had Oleksandr Zinchenko who could fill in, but Guardiola utilised Joao Cancelo, Nathan Ake and even Aymeric Laporte at left-back to fill the void, so if City do walk away, they won’t be short on options.
Are There Alternatives?
Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney was touted as a possible alternative, but with Mikel Arteta rebuilding the Gunners, it’s unlikely the Scottish defender will move north. City have also been linked to Stuttgart defender Borna Sosa, who may be available at a lower fee to Cucurella.
Closer to home, City have the talent of Josh Wilson-Esbrand, who starred in the left-back position against Bayern Munich. Guardiola heaped praise on the 19-year-old after an impressive performance against the German champions, and he may be the next to come through the ranks and take a first-team place.
It might be a good move to introduce the youngster to the Premier League this season. A rotation of Cancelo and Wilson-Esbrand at left-back may ease the defender into the first-team fold.
What do you think? Should City pursue Cucurella or walk away?