Man City can grant Pep Guardiola his wish by dealing Manchester United Frenkie de Jong blow
Manchester City will welcome Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez to the Etihad this summer, but their arrivals by no means signal the end of the club’s transfer business.
The likes of Kalvin Phillips, Marc Cucurella and Frenkie de Jong have all been strongly linked with the Blues, but the futures of a number of City stars are currently under the spotlight too.
It seems likely that Gabriel Jesus will seek pastures new after five-and-a-half years at the club, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is a target for Arsenal. Meanwhile, Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez are all entering the final years of their contracts, as is Pep Guardiola.
One man who appears set to stay in Manchester is Bernardo Silva. Despite asking to leave the club in both 2020 and 2021, the Portuguese midfielder enjoyed arguably his best season in sky blue as City were crowned Premier League champions for the fourth time in five years.
Bernardo now appears to be much more settled in Manchester, while from a footballing perspective, it’s hard to imagine there being a better place to play at the moment than City. But that doesn’t mean that potential suitors aren’t going to try their luck.
Barcelona could be one of those clubs. Bernardo wanted to move to Camp Nou last year, and could potentially still harbour those same ambitions.
It’s well known that Barca are not exactly in the healthiest of financial situations right now, which partly explains why they are open to selling Dutch midfielder De Jong should a suitable offer come in. Manchester United are desperate to sign the 25-year-old, with Erik ten Hag viewing him as an important piece in his rebuild project.
A deal hinges on a number of things, primarily United meeting Barcelona’s €85m (£72.5m) asking price and being able to persuade De Jong that he can go without at least one season of Champions League football.
However, Barca are believed to be reluctant to sell De Jong unless they can bring in Bernardo from City. There’s little doubt that De Jong would greatly help United and Ten Hag, so in a way, City could deal their neighbours and not-insignificant blow by keeping hold of Bernardo.
That’s exactly what will happen if Guardiola gets his way. When asked recently about the chances of his boyhood club Barca signing Bernardo, he said: “They will have a difficult time.”
Of course, United’s transfer plans will be of little interest to City when discussing Bernardo’s future. But there would be a sense of satisfaction if by tying the 26-year-old down to a new contract City also manage to weaken United.
On the flip side, if Bernardo decides that he wants to leave, you wouldn’t bet against City hijacking United’s pursuit of De Jong and trying to sign him themselves. Guardiola is a big fan of the Dutchman who is a graduate of the Johan Cruyff school, having come up through Ajax’s academy before joining Barca in 2019.