Gabriel Jesus to Chelsea transfer reports have proven Man City’s £100m argument – Joe Bray
It’s barely been two weeks since the end of the domestic season, and international games are still being played, but the transfer rumour mill is firmly up and running.
Manchester City have spared themselves of being subject of the summer’s biggest transfer saga by signing Erling Haaland quickly and quietly, and can now work on bolstering other areas of the squad. Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said last week that City wanted to do all their business early if possible, while promising more incomings.
There could too be outgoings, with Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva among the names linked with exits. The most likely departure could be Jesus, given two strikers have just arrived, and there has been plenty of noise regarding where he could end up.
This week, Chelsea have joined Arsenal, Real Madrid and others in being mentioned as possible destinations for Jesus, at the same time as Romelu Lukaku has been linked with a loan return to Inter Milan. Whatever happens to Jesus, City may look at Lukaku’s season and give a wry smile, given some of the criticism they have got for their own transfer dealings in the last 12 months.
Last summer, City signed Jack Grealish for his release clause amount of £100m. It was a British record transfer fee, breaking the club’s own record by around £35-40m. But City had gained a considerable amount of incoming fees in the previous months so argued the net expenditure was more in line with previous high profile signings. It was a case that City could afford the clause, so paid it and moved on.
Grealish’s difficult adaptation has been well documented, and his comments this week about playing safe at City compared to the freedom he enjoys with England are telling of a player still with learning to do. But City have always been clear that Grealish is a long-term player, with Pep Guardiola saying early on that he was signed for a five to six year period.
There is faith from the club that the former Villa captain will come good. His England performances, plus his improving form towards the end of the season for City, show a player ready to kick on next season.
Compare that to another £100m signing last summer (or £97m to be pedantic). When Lukaku returned to Chelsea, he spoke of it being a lifelong dream to come back, and he’d been prolific for Inter before that.
He started relatively well, but his form dramatically tailed off and there has been friction with Thomas Tuchel and the Chelsea fans. If Grealish has shown steady improvement, Lukaku has shown steady decline. It seems he and Chelsea only had the short term in mind with that signing, and the £100m fee might only have got them 15 goals from 44 outings.
The long-term ambitions of Chelsea may be a warning to Jesus if those links have any merit, although the new ownership may take a different approach to Roman Abramovich’s high turnover of players and staff in search of instant success.
City are more in the market of long-term improvement, which tallies with Grealish’s comments about kicking on, and taking a season to learn a new style of play. If Lukaku leaves Chelsea, it should only strengthen how history remembers the Premier League’s first £100m signing.