Barcelona transfer plans could affect Man City summer strategy again – Simon Bajkowski
There was a smile on the face of the Manchester City chairman when he was asked how quickly subsequent transfers would be done. Khaldoon Al Mubarak had said that there will be more than one new arrival on top of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez, but any moves for players must be thrashed out with other clubs.
Not only do City have to deal with the selling club, but often that party is relying on others for their own plans. A bit like buying a house, chains are common and can go through smoothly or collapse at any moment.
As Txiki Begiristain and the recruitment team plot to improve what is already an excellent window, they will find some familiar faces as they come to do their business. Barcelona, where Begiristain enjoyed a successful career on and off the pitch, are likely to be prominent again.
Perhaps it was inevitable given the links between the two clubs but Barcelona and City have been closely connected for many a transfer window now. It remains a remarkable quirk that City would have stepped up efforts to sell John Stones – one of their best centre-backs over the last two years – had Eric Garcia not decided he wanted to return to the Nou Camp in 2020, and after finally getting him and Sergio Aguero on free transfers the following summer Ferran Torres became the first key signing of the Xavi era in January 2022.
Once again, Barcelona and City’s paths look to have crossed – albeit with an unusual third party in Leeds United. Unless Frenkie de Jong becomes the midfielder Guardiola is after, the two European heavyweights will attempt to pilfer Elland Road for two of Jesse March’s best players.
Barcelona want Raphinha, and have made significant headway to signing the player, but the fact Leeds did not get relegated has raised the price for a club that are again so empty-handed that they do not have the money yet to register free transfers Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen. Kalvin Phillips, meanwhile, is on City’s radar to be the Fernandinho replacement and bulk up the midfield options for next season.
Leeds hold several important cards at the moment. Losing one of your best players can be inevitable when you are at the lower end of the Premier League table, although the money from the sale can be invested in multiple signings that ultimately make the squad better; selling two of your stars doubles the risk, but could pay off handsomely in the reward.
Whether or not Barcelona are able to stump up the money for Raphinha could have a direct say on how willing Leeds are to sell Phillips, however much City try and cut the La Liga side out of their negotiations. The longer talks drag on with the multiple parties, the lower the chance of everything being wrapped up for July 1 to give Guardiola and Al Mubarak exactly what they want.