Five key issues Man City must address as summer transfer window officially opens – Alex Brotherton
Manchester City might have already signed attackers Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez, but fans of the Premier League champions can expect a busy summer of comings and goings when the transfer window officially opens on Friday 10 June.
Pep Guardiola knows that in football, to stand still and admire your handiwork is to go backwards and let others overtake you. Club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said last week that City will make at least one additional signing this window, but it also seems likely that at least one key member of the 2021/22 squad will depart.
With a number of players entering the final years of their contracts, there’s plenty to sort out this summer. Here’s what City need to do before the new season begins on 6 August.
1. Sign a full-back
In the latter stages of this season it became clear that City lack depth in the full-back position, so a new left-back or right-back should be a priority.
City are reportedly interested in Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella, a signing that would allow Joao Cancelo to both play on the left and cover Kyle Walker on the right. This would make sense especially if Oleksandr Zinchenko decides to leave amid interest from Arsenal.
However, if Zinchenko stays then City could target a right-back to provide cover for Walker. The right side of defence is Cancelo’s natural position, although this season he always looked much more comfortable on the other side of the pitch.
2. Bring in a versatile midfielder
The departure of Fernandinho means that Rodri is the only out-and-out holding midfielder in Guardiola’s squad. City could be one serious injury away from trouble.
Convincing someone to come to City and sit on the bench behind the Spaniard is a tough sell, so City might instead target a midfielder that can play in multiple positions. In truth they already have that in Ilkay Gundogan, but with the German international turning 32 in October and into the final year of his contract, another body in there wouldn’t hurt.
Someone like Frenkie de Jong would be ideal, but Manchester United appear to be the frontrunners for the Barcelona man’s signature.
3. Sell Gabriel Jesus
In an ideal world there is no way that City would sell Gabriel Jesus. Versatile 25-year-old attackers with exemplary attitudes and work ethics like his are hard to come by, but it’s clear that Jesus needs a move for the good of his career.
With the World Cup on the horizon and another 10 years of elite football ahead of him, the Brazilian wants a shot at becoming a starting No.9 at a top level club. Following the arrival of Haaland, that just isn’t an opportunity he’s going to get at City. Jesus has given everything for City, so the Blues should repay his service by affording him the move he clearly wants.
Selling Jesus should bring in at least £40m, a tidy sum that can be put towards the acquisition of a full-back or midfielder.
4. Sell Oleksandr Zinchenko
Again, City are (likely) desperate to keep Zinchenko, largely because of his positional versatility and incredible technical ability. But as he showed in Ukraine’s recent fixtures, his future lies in midfield, not at left-back.
The 25-year-old has done an exemplary job filling in at an unnatural position, but his talent is clearly wasted on the left side of defence. Should he express a desire to leave then City should not stand in his way — seeing Zinchenko carve up opponents in midfield is a joy, regardless of what colour shirt he’s wearing.
5. Address contract situations
Should Jesus leave, then City will still have three key players entering the final year of their contract. Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez all still have plenty to offer the Blues, so persuading them to agree to new terms should be a priority.
Gundogan’s future is arguably the most pressing. Even if City do sign a new midfielder, it can take a couple of seasons for new recruits to fully adapt to Guardiola’s system. If that’s the case, then Gundogan can help with the transition.
Sterling is an elite attacking player, and at 27 is in his peak years. While Mahrez was City’s top scorer this season, by the end of next campaign he will be 32 and will have Alvarez and Cole Palmer fighting for his right-wing spot. If any of the trio should be allowed to run their deals down, then it should probably be him.