If reports are to believed, then maybe this summer won’t see the big-money transfers it started to promise.
Manchester City are looking for a big-name replacement for Sergio Aguero, with Harry Kane and Erling Haaland linked. Lionel Messi has also been an option, although he looks more and more likely to extend his contract at Barcelona after their change of presidency.
To sign Kane or Haaland would require a club-record transfer fee, and probably even a British record. City are notorious for sticking to their valuation of targets, and while they have spent a lot on players in the transfer market, the most they have spent on a single player is still around £60m.
A player of Kane or Haaland’s quality might require double that. At least.
So maybe the stories that clubs might be willing to discuss swap deals could be an option for City. Either a straight swap or a player-plus-cash deal would bring prices down and also help with the wage bill. The Blues have a number of players limited to fringe roles, and that is bound to have an impact on their morale.
So which players could City look to move on, that would make a selling club interested enough to discuss a swap deal?
Mendy has had another season of failing to hold down the left-back spot, and has only been given the chance there in rotation games or as a wing-back in a back five. It’s clear Guardiola doesn’t trust him defensively in the big games, so that only gives Mendy a limited role in the squad that doesn’t fit with the preferred versatility of Guardiola players.
It feels like the right time for Mendy to move on, for him and for the club. His injury history will go against City in any attempts to find a buyer, but he could be an option if swap deals are discussed and another club needs a new left-back.
Linked with an exit just a year after arriving for £40m, Ake is good enough for a top Premier League side but just hasn’t had the chances this season. It would be worth keeping Ake, but if someone wanted to sign him and it helped drive down a high asking price for a target, he’s not indispensable.
Ake tweeted this week of his frustration at being injured this season, and his intention to fight harder next season. A positive Euro 2020 tournament could also increase his valuation if City were to sell.
Another player who’s struggled with playing time in defence – largely due to John Stones and Ruben Dias’ partnership – Laporte hasn’t hidden his desire to play regularly at the top level. He has switched to Spanish citizenship to experience international football, and has twice left the door open this season for a summer evaluation of his future when playing time has been mentioned.
City wouldn’t want to lose Laporte and Ake, but if a deal was right and Laporte is unhappy, then perhaps he could be an option for a swap.
City like to have two forwards, so it doesn’t quite make sense to get rid of Jesus after Aguero’s departure. However, he is a name mentioned in early reports discussing outgoing players to make way for new arrivals.
Jesus can’t have been too pleased with Guardiola’s tendency to approach big games with no recognised striker, often leaving him on the bench. There is a role to play for Jesus, who is better than anyone at holding the ball up and playing others in, although with a striker the summer priority he would go from competing with Aguero to competing with someone else.
City need a goalscorer, and for all his qualities, Jesus isn’t necessarily the one they’re looking for. So say he expresses a desire to leave, and a selling club would be happy to part-exchange their striker with City’s no.9, then maybe a deal could be reluctantly done.
Whether it’s just sensationalist reporting, or something with more truth, there appears to be a growing chatter that Sterling is unhappy with his role at City. He found himself out of the team towards the end of the season, even though he started the Champions League final.
Which players should City consider in any swap deals this summer? Join the debate in the comments here.
Hopefully, Sterling will have a good Euro 2020, and City would be reluctant to let him go as one under-par season doesn’t make him a bad player. Once again, though, City have cover in his position and need a new striker. Maybe offloading Sterling is the price they have to pay?
Mahrez has just had his best season in a City shirt, turning in memorable performances against Paris Saint-Germain among a number of big game outings. At 30, though, he will still maintain a solid value, and is another who knows there is cover in his position.
It would be a bold move to exchange someone like Mahrez (or most of the names above), however it might be the only way to facilitate a deal for Kane, Haaland, or someone else.
City say they have the funds for a big signing, so they might not need to exchange anyone. They also know if that becomes an option, they have plenty of options that could be used to exchange and get a deal over the line.