Is Manchester City’s success just a reflection of their bank account?
Manchester City has been reported to be the most valuable club in the English Premier League. Pep
Guardiola’s current squad cost £702 million to assemble; the highest of any other club in Europe. City are current EPL Champions and favorites to compete for the title this season, currently sitting in second place behind Liverpool. In the five years between 2015- 2019, the only clubs that spent more than City are Juventus and Barcelona. Guardiola’s men won the domestic treble last season further cementing their position among Europe’s elite but their financial endowment has worked hand in glove with Guardiola’s visionary leadership.
Josep Guardiola, the manager who lacks nothing
Guardiola’s prolific career spans over three of Europe's best leagues and major successes in each one of those leagues earned him recognition among the most accomplished managers in history. He won the La Liga four times with Barcelona and the treble. In Germany, he had similar success winning Bundesliga for three consecutive years. Barcelona, Bayern, and Man City are all large clubs with big budgets to sign players. Throughout this managerial career, Guardiola has had a huge financial backing to construct the best teams that the leagues have seen. Pep Guardiola’s impact at Manchester City has surpassed previous managers in both achievements and expenditure.
Manchester does not spare the cost to buy players and this led to their Premier League rival, Jurgen Klopp claiming that Manchester City lived in a “fantasy land”. Klopp himself has spent much less than Guardiola since taking over as a manager at Anfield. Arguably, when a manager has access to all the financial resources they need, there is more room for success without having to make it work with less talented players. Guardiola has spent more at Manchester City than at Barcelona and Bayern Munich combined. The reason behind this being the need to rejuvenate the squad after coming to a team of 11 players over the age of 30 according to the Spaniard. Most of their players have each costed the team between €50 and 100 million showing that they do not have to be conservative when they want a player. The Cityzens have not made nearly as much selling players as they spent buying. They spent around £500 million net in the last five years whereas Liverpool made profits of selling the likes of Phillippe Coutinho. Money is just not an issue for Manchester City which justifies their freedom to recruit talented players at a premium. Many of the Man City signings have succeeded at the Etihad and have been part and parcel of the outstanding overall success of the club in the past few years.
Most Expensive Manchester City signings
Let’s just quickly look at some of their high profile signings.
#10 - Eliaquim Mangala, £42 million
The French center-back joined City in 2014 but failed to have an impact in defence. He has spent most of his time at City on loan to Everton and Valencia. The 28-year old was signed by Manuel Pellegrini and did not make it to Pep Guardiola’s first team.
#9 - Bernardo Silva, £43 million
City signed Bernardo Silva in July 2017 from Ligue 1 powerhouse Monaco, after he had helped the French team secure a league title and a semi-finals spot in the Champions League. The Portuguese playmaker won Man City’s player of the season in his second season at the Etihad.
#8 - Raheem Sterling, £44 million
Then 20-year old Sterling made his high profile move from Liverpool in 2015. Since his arrival at Etihad, he’s been progressively becoming better each season for City with his best campaign in 2017/2018 season where he netted 23 goals and created 17 assists in 46 games.
#7 - Kyle Walker, £45 million
Kyle Walker made his move to Manchester City from Spurs in 2017 on a five-year contract. The former Tottenham player has been touted to be on the way out after Pep Guardiola signed João Cancelo from Juventus this year.
#6 - John Stones, £47.5 million
Stones joined City from Everton to Manchester City in 2016. The English defender was signed for a wholesome £47.5 million price tag. The 25-year old is the first choice center-back for the English national team and has turned out to be a good investment for Manchester City.
#5 - Benjamin Mendy, £52 million
Mendy was signed from Monaco on a five-year contract in 2017, breaking the record at the time for the most expensive full-back. One of the most expensive defenders in the League, Mendy has had a series of injuries that have kept him from playing much at Manchester City.
#4 - Kevin De Bruyne £54 million
The Belgian has been at the club since 2015. Since signing a 6-year contract to switch from Wolfsburg to Manchester City, De Bruyne is now a key figure on the pitch as City’s playmaker. The 28-year-old midfielder currently stands at 50 assists for the Blues.
#3 - Aymeric Laporte £57 million
The French defender has been crucial to the Manchester City defence since his arrival in 2018 from Atletico Bilbao. Laporte’s exploits in the EPL has resulted in him being regarded as the second-best center-back in the league behind, 2019 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in Virgil Van Dijk.
#2 - Riyad Mahrez £60 million
Leicester City’s former talisman became a City player for £60 million, a price tag that made him the first player to break the £60 million mark for the club in 2018. He has been one of the best players for Manchester City this season, taking advantage of Leroy Sane’s injury to prove his worth.
#1 - Rodri £62 million
Coming from Atletico Madrid, the midfielder is expected to take the place of 34-year old Fernaninho as a key figure in City’s midfield. The rated player came at a premium because of his reputation and instinct with the ball. Rodri’s contribution to the team is most critical when Fernandinho retires.
Manchester City’s humble beginnings
City have not always had the enormous financial resources they have today and was an outsider to the elite clubs of Europe. The club’s fortunes turned when the current Manchester City owner, billionaire businessman and member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought the club in 2008. City won three league titles and made record profits since its change of ownership into the Abu Dhabi billionaires’ hands.
Before coming into the picture, Manchester City was far from being a championship team constantly finishing mid-table. His investment has largely been responsible for taking City from mid-table regulars to league title winners. The investment has gone into extensions to the Etihad Stadium state of the art facilities. Sheikh Mansour’s investments into the club have exceeded £1.4 billion which has essentially contributed to turn Manchester City into a European powerhouse that spares no cost in buying the top-rated players. In the 11 years since buying the club, City has won 9 trophies and 3 league titles. City’s success gained the English team, fans across the globe and catapulted them to the position of the most valuable club in the Premier League. The money has also been coming in for City with an annual turnover of £581 million earning, £9 million behind top earners and rivals Manchester United who bagged £590 million in the most recent year.
Manchester City and Liverpool Rivalry
Jurgen Klopp and Guardiola have to battle it out this season for the league title. Liverpool has been on a near-perfect run which has cemented their chances of taking the title from rivals City. Manchester’s luck has fallen through, falling behind Liverpool by 8 points. The biggest challenge that the club is facing happens to be a shaky defence that has made critical mistakes, costing the champions six points against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Norwich. Aymeric Laporte’s injury has been a major setback as the first choice center-back who will need more time on the sidelines, recovering from a meniscus injury picked up early on in the season.
Guardiola has had to find a temporary suitable combination, which has meant that his defence needed to adjust, pairing up with players they had not been used to playing with. John Stones and Kyle Walker have taken the baton alongside the ageing duo of Nicholas Otamendi. Joao Cancelo, City’s record signing full-back has not played a major role this season as Guardiola’s first-choice. The current defence lacks depth which could cost City the title, as Liverpool charge on, eight points ahead of the champions. Fernandinho moved into the defensive position this season, making a way in the midfield for new signing Rodri. The switch has been far from stable at times, the Brazilian proving that his natural position is in midfield.
The biggest clubs in the world are usually well endowed with the financial capacity to buy players without sparing the cost. The elite clubs have the cash to continue buying the players that the manager needs and at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has been no different. It’s true that the Spaniard, has been fortunate to have financial access for most of his managerial career and has used this privilege to create some of the best teams, the football world has ever seen including the current Manchester City squad.
To respond to the question, “Is Manchester City’s success just a reflection of their bank account?’’ The short answer is yes. They have been transformed by their access to financial resources via the Arab world. A big part of why the Cityzens have been able to succeed is a reflection of their bank account but Guardiola’s touch has also contributed immensely. Let’s face it, you also need to know which players to buy and how to organize them.