To look at any recent incoming Manchester City player, there is often the case of trying not to be extravagant with individual fees paid. The idea of financial doping and maintaining financial fair play regulations is always dismissed, and little judgement was brought upon them upon their recent sanctions. It would appear with the mild fine and easing of FFP through COVID-19, clubs of certain wealth will now proceed with heavy spending. Last summer saw Chelsea splurge around £250 million, and this summer sees them poised to repeat this. Manchester City always seemed less willing to pay record fees, or even get close to the lofty £100 million mark, until maybe now. With City’s win over UEFA through the CAS, the issues surrounding the Spanish clubs and their own financial troubles, sees City in a position take advantage of the lack of competition in the market.
The financial fair play model was doomed for failure from the outset. When UEFA came for the Etihad club, they had a rock solid case, and punishment was immediately imposed. The financial doping was apparent to all, and the vast money spent was clear for everyone to see. City’s owners were adamant (perhaps embarrassingly so), and were able to find loopholes and emerge with only a small fine. This win over UEFA has now created a real issue in imposing and overseeing true financial fair play in the future. The state owned clubs, the clubs built upon the riches of oil, could be about to kick in with the news that Harry Kane is City bound for £160 million. The rumblings and figures are out their, and it appears a deal is imminent, Kane is on his way to Pep’s all star squad.
When Pep Guardiola arrived to take over coaching duties at the Etihad, he brought with him an untainted reputation. The Barcelona legend was able to transform a successful group of highly paid players into a dominant footballing side. The team consisted of established players such as Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Fernandinho & Sergio Arguero. Sergio Aguero left in the recent close season, with his minutes lessening through the year. It seemed Guardiola was toying with his raft of forwards, with thoughts on maybe deploying a false 9 to replace Aguero long term. Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne & Ferran Torres were all trialed there, with Gabriel Jesus remaining more peripheral. There was clarity in Pep’s approach, and the League was wrapped up with Liverpool experiencing a raft of injuries.
The Champions League has continued to be the Holy Grail for both PSG & Manchester City, something that continues to elude both sides. With the two clubs having spent well over a £2.5 billion between them (in their quests for this coveted prize), Pep seems primed to alter his spending philosophy. Where many players have been recruited across his reign for between £40-£70 million, the signing of Kane represents the need for the best suited player, right now, at whatever cost.
Pep Guardiola is an all time great manager, and will go down as a revolutionary coach that transcended the sport with his tactics. He has won League’s in every country he has managed, yet unlike with Barca, he has failed to deliver the Champions League to either Bayern Munich or City. The ego can only take so much, especially when he has ability to pay whatever price is required. With this, Pep has possibly pulled the trigger on a huge deal that could shake the transfer market to its core.
As Chelsea prepared for the Champions League final, they came in as underdogs. Despite a summer of huge spending (on top of an already established squad), City were the favourites and Chelsea were merely there to be beaten. This final represented Pep finally delivering what he was appointed for, the Champions League. The season of COVID-19 had seen isolations, injuries and no fans, which saw City run away from the pack, and win the English League. The dynamic of the team had been pretty consistent, however Thomas Tuchel (the newish Chelsea manager) had seemed to cause a stir in Pep’s head. An FA Cup semi final & League loss to Tuchel saw Pep overthink and change team strategy. He has done this before when faced with Liverpool & Jurgen Klopp, and his overthinking at key points is becoming a real thing. With no trusted striker (Aguero & Jesus started as subs) he adopted an untested strategy, with his midfield shredded and overwhelmed. The ethos seemed to be that four varying and Interchanging forwards would make up for no central striker. The ploy failed, and Aguero was inevitably summoned to help rescue the tie, along with Fernandinho to help control the midfield.
This game represented what what missing, in that tactically elite coaches could overcome Pep in these types of battles. Both Klopp and Tuchel have had success in knockout situations, where total football was not always the ideal for Pep. With a patient volley of arrows, a League can be won, but when a final or knockout tie is afoot, the sword may now be needed. Enter the England captain (Harry Kane), the man Pep sees at the point of his new attack.
There has clearly been a desire to achieve more in football (for Harry Kane), that has been matched by a reluctance to disrespect the club he captain’s. Quiet propaganda and negotiations seem to have resulted in an eye watering deal that could see Harry Kane leave White Hart, and £160 million arrive. The deal for the near 28 year old shows how much Pep wanted his man, and Kane’s breathtaking season appears to have combined Pep of the move. Despite Spurs stuttering, José Mourinho appeared to bring the very best from Harry Kane during their time together. With numbers in both assists and goals matching his overall play, he was perhaps the true player of the year. Sometimes a teams failure can see a player overlooked, as there was surely no better individual player in the league last year.
With a new variation to his game, Kane brought back long forgotten memories of when he played that bit deeper. His goal getting was never in doubt, but José clearly pushed him to become more creative, in the absence of outcast Deli Alli & the departed Christian Eriksen. The added creativity to his play, link up and progression from deeper areas is a hallmark what Pep likes. When Pep arrived at City, Aguero was often omitted, with his pure goal getting ability not enough for Pep’s needs. Sergio Aguero was able to adjust and evolve into the leagues premier marksman, and domestic dominance followed. A Mauricio Pochettino version of Kane was more about movement in the box, with creation & pace surrounding him. The team was built to service Kane, and goals were never in short supply. Under the guidance of Mourinho, Kane was able to create more, drag defenders out of position, and cater more for those around him. Though Kane & Didier Drogba are somewhat dissimilar, there were certainly parallels with their individual growth under José Mourinho.
If the deal happens, Spurs have an opportunity to regenerate their squad, much in the way Liverpool did with the Philippe Coutinho money. Smart additions, and the installment of the brilliant Son Heung-min as the main man, may well suit Spurs going forward. For Manchester City, they would have a proven Premier League scorer in the prime of his career. The next 5 years could see Kane fill his trophy cabinet, and finally help deliver what Pep & his employers crave most, Manchester City’s first European Cup.