The headlines from Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak’s annual interview are naturally focussing on his assertion that the Blues are ready to spend big on a replacement for Sergio Aguero.
“This is the time to send a strong message, that there’s no contentment, that you’re not satisfied with just winning the league,” he said, in a warning to City’s Premier League rivals.
“We lose a very important legend in Sergio Aguero, very hard shoes to fill, but I’m confident we will find the right player to fill those shoes.”
He didn’t name Harry Kane or Erling Haaland specifically, but that hasn’t stopped fans and pundits making the natural connection that signing a player of that ilk would be the only way to fill Aguero’s shoes.
But it’s the next line from Al Mubarak that should also encourage City fans.
He continued: “There’s other areas within the team that obviously need investment, not too many, it’s not about numbers.”
If City are going to replace Aguero, they’ll need to spend a lot of money. Yet they’re also ready to spend money to improve other positions.
And that’s where City’s scouting network can come in, to try and find a bargain that not only ensures value for money but also frees up funds for the big-name signings.
If City bosses are looking around the squad for areas to reinforce after the centre-forward position, their attentions will soon land at left-back.
With three left full-backs, plus Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte, it’s a well-covered area, but the problem is there’s no stand-out option. Aleks Zinchenko and Joao Cancelo are solid options, albeit with weaknesses that have been exposed at times. And if Benjamin Mendy left this summer, there wouldn’t be too many complaints from the stands.
It feels unlikely that another £50m will be spent in that area after the Mendy signing in 2017 and Cancelo’s big-money arrival two years ago, although there’s still scope for a more budget option to meet the chairman’s prediction.
So City will hope to repeat the success of Ferran Torres’ arrival last year for just £20m. With 13 goals, an added versatility across the front line, and a string of promising performances, Torres has arguably already justified his fee. After being allowed to settle in and develop among a well-stocked group of wingers, he will now surely go on to hammer home how much of a bargain his signing was in the next few years.
Which position aside from striker should City prioritise this summer? Let us know in the comments here.
With the cover available, City don’t need to spend excessively at left-back, and can instead focus on the future or seeking out a bargain. It’s an area that needs addressing, but with a longer-term focus.
That approach isn’t limited to full-back. If a cheap opportunity presents itself in another position, Torres has shown the value of signing the right player even if the time isn’t too pressing.
So as Al Mubarak leads the search for a top-class striker, his hints at investing elsewhere are welcome. And City can continue their impressive record of getting value for money in recent years by seeking out a hidden gem while cover remains high at left-back.