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Man City’s Summer Strategy: Unravelling the Olise Puzzle

A Summer of Delicate Dance: Crystal Palace’s Olise, Man City’s Pivotal Puzzle Piece

As reports filter in from The Athletic, Manchester City’s illustrious summer transfer window seems caught in a complex ballet. The most riveting act? The potential acquisition of Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise. At the heart of a colourful tableau of shifting positions, financial negotiations, and unexpected departures, the young French winger could be a pivotal piece of the grand puzzle.

The Guardiola Strategy: The Chessboard in Flux

“Numbers matter. We’ll see whether we require wingers or inside players. The fate of the loan players is another variable. A lot will transpire,” voiced Pep Guardiola on a bright Saturday. Such comments followed Riyad Mahrez’s surprising move to Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli, a manoeuvre City hadn’t anticipated just months ago.

Two main targets emerged for City this summer. The first, the adept midfielder Mateo Kovacic, has been successfully reeled in from Chelsea. Negotiations are ongoing with the second target, RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol. City eyed West Ham captain Declan Rice as Ilkay Gundogan’s successor, but he opted for Arsenal, leaving City content to explore existing options.

Bernardo Silva’s role in this chess game remains nebulous. It’s unclear whether he’ll serve as an exterior wing or central player, a decision heavily dependent on the team’s overall composition.

The Olise Conundrum: A Key Player in the Making

Guardiola’s comments on needing “wingers or players inside” resonate strongly with Silva’s position. Silva’s future in the club is uncertain, but the departure of Gundogan to Barcelona and Rice opting for Arsenal means Silva might be used as an attacking midfielder. Mahrez’s absence triggers a hunt for a new winger, leading to Palace’s Michael Olise emerging as a key player in the discussion.

Olise, just 21, possesses the exact profile of a winger that City covets. The Frenchman is young and qualifies as homegrown, despite his international decision. The conundrum lies in City’s reluctance to exceed £50 million ($64.3m) for him, a sum unlikely to sway Palace, especially with the loss of Wilfried Zaha in this window. The complications are further compounded by Olise’s hamstring tear in the European Under-21 Championships in late June, which might sideline him at the season’s outset.

City is keen on exploring the Olise option but offers no guarantees. Should this plan fall through, they might resort to relocating Silva to the wing, or possibly Phil Foden, while on the hunt for another midfielder. Rico Lewis, 18, has also been mentioned as a potential attacking midfielder.

In the Absence of Guarantees: Contingencies in Play

Interestingly, Cole Palmer could remain within City’s fold, possibly explaining Guardiola’s reference to loan players. The young 21-year-old was anticipated to find a temporary home this summer, with German clubs and Brighton among interested parties.

In parallel, City’s right-back predicament continues to puzzle. If Kyle Walker exits, his replacement isn’t guaranteed. Guardiola has vowed to fight to retain Walker, who has resisted City’s contract renewal proposals, eyeing a move to Bayern Munich. The situation remains unresolved, even after recent discussions between the two clubs in Japan.

Given the presence of John Stones, Manuel Akanji, and Lewis, City seems content with their right-back options. They might prefer stability over rushing into replacing Walker, a cornerstone of their success since his move from Tottenham Hotspur six years ago. The successful acquisition of Gvardiol will be vital to this plan.

Facing the Challenge: Man City’s Ongoing Battle

The summer scenario appears less than ideal. City stands to lose Mahrez, Gundogan, Walker, Aymeric Laporte, and Joao Cancelo, potentially gaining only two new players in return.

However, the club is acutely aware of their predicament. As such, they have increased efforts to retain Bernardo and offered Walker a substantial financial incentive. Continual exploration of new signings attests to their flexibility, especially when Guardiola makes a special request. Despite the challenges, City has a steadfast approach to player quality and costs, as exemplified by their interest in Olise.

So, as they return from their pre-season tour of Asia, it’s clear – the grand ballet of the transfer window is far from over, and the summer of 2023 remains a dance of delicate decisions for Manchester City.

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