To those who have spent a summer in England, the season’s weather is not really much of a surprise. There are days, when a whole suitcase of clothes is needed due to constantly changing conditions, and then there are days that are hot enough for the odd T-shirt. In the context of Premier League football and the surprises that the transfer window springs, the current campaign has been a mixed bag of sorts. At the forefront of some arguably questionable transfer business is Manchester City. The Citizens have somewhat angered the English football community by paying a record fee of £49 million for 20-year old Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling. The youngster joins the Sky Blues with a decent Premier League record and will certainly add quality to the squad, but to suggest that he is worth such an extortionate amount can be deemed ludicrous.
The essence of Manchester City’s activities is the lack of homegrown players that the squad currently boasts. The FA dictates that eight out of a squad of 25 players need to be homegrown, which ultimately means that the concerned players will have to have been registered with an English or Welsh club for at least three consecutive seasons before their 21st birthday. Just a few weeks ago, City’s squad only boasted three homegrown players, namely Joe Hart, Richard Wright and Gael Clichy. However, since the start of their transfer activities, the club must have thought that any English player with two legs could be worth bidding for.
In this regard, the Citizens added the above mentioned Sterling from Liverpool, Fabian Delph from Aston Villa and most recently, Patrick Roberts from Fulham for a combined fee of £68 million. The latter was the club’s most recent signing and the question as to what justifies a fee of £11 million for an 18-year with virtually no experience will have to be addressed. As for Sterling and Delph, they certainly provide a certain degree of quality, although their roles at Manchester City are yet to be defined. Raheem Sterling in particular, will have to live up to the expectations that come with a record-fee, especially considering some of the other squad members such as Sergio Aguero, who cost significantly less, and who have already contributed to the club’s most recent success.
Fabian Delph will have to compete with the likes of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and David Silva for a starting spot in midfield. Despite Delph’s arguably most impressive year just behind him, it will take far more to impress at a club like Manchester City. With the disappointment of last season’s second-place finish behind them and the rather impressive transfer activities of competitors such as Manchester United and Liverpool, the pressure will be on at the Etihad; this might ultimately hinder Fabian Delph from developing at an appropriate pace.
Whatever the case might be for these individuals, it is certainly a shame that the club’s recruitment decisions seem dominated by nationality, as City have obviously failed to invest in its own youth department, despite money being available in abundance. In this respect, Manchester United for example, were able to invest in a winger, namely Memphis Depay, at less than half of Sterling’s fee. At this stage, Depay is arguably the superior player, with more international experience and a decent enough collection of medals. United were able to purchase the Dutchman, as the club do not have to worry about the homegrown player rule. Similarly, the decision to go for Fabian Delph would have been influenced by the England international’s nationality. Arguably, a club of Manchester City’s ambitions would aim higher than recruiting Delph, without being disrespectful towards the midfielder. Had City been able to choose any central midfielder in the world, other names would have certainly been ahead of Fabian Delph. Unfortunately, those names would have not suited the requirements.
It seems as though, Manchester City might spring a few more surprises, just like the English summer, but to suggest that the current transfer window has been a success so far, would be more than just bold. In other words, the Citizens are currently in the process of complying with rules, rather than assembling a title-winning squad. It will be interesting to monitor the rest of the summer, although nothing suggests that Chelsea should be worried about Manchester City at the moment.