When Kevin De Bruyne went down with an injury against Burnley, having been rushed back from an injury he picked up in the Champions League final just two months prior, despite being projected to miss the start of the season, it’s safe to say that the club’s already rather large need for another midfielder stepped up a notch.
West Ham, a club in the middle of negotiations with City over the sale of Lucas Paqueta, were no doubt rubbing their hands together at the sight of the Belgian going down, knowing full well that Etihad officials would only become more desperate and inevitably end up getting closer to their initial asking price.
Negotiations were going well through the week.
Despite initial resistance from West Ham, it felt inevitable that an agreement between the two clubs would be reached, with a transfer value of around £80-85 million being generally accepted as the sweet spot which would need to be reached.
Then, on Friday, it suddenly emerged that the deal had broken down.
Within a few hours, it became clear that, in a truly comical twist, Lucas Paqueta was actually being investigated for alleged betting breaches.
For all intents and purposes, the deal is dead.
Reports keep coming up about a potential for the move to still go ahead, however the only way that would happen is if the charges were somehow resolved in the next week or so which, given the recent example of Ivan Toney basically playing for six to seven months while his charges were investigated, I highly doubt will be the case.
Now, I was never truly convinced that Lucas Paqueta was worth the amount of money being spent on him. All of this comes with the usual caveat that if Pep Guardiola is interested in a player, that’s good enough for me and I have faith that he’d be a great addition to the squad. However, despite having seen a fair number of West Ham games last season, he felt like a player who didn’t really come into his own until after the World Cup. Even then, he never looked anywhere close to being an £80-85 million player in my eyes.
Of course, as we currently live in a world where Moises Caicedo is going for £115 million and Romeo Lavia is moving for nearly £60 million, the market is completely destroyed beyond belief. We’d be living in some kind of weird simulation where West Ham – a team that finished six points above the relegation zone last season – apparently had a midfield duo in Rice and Paqueta worth more than all of Manchester City’s current central midfielders combined.
Chelsea have basically blown up the market in a way which is hilariously unhealthy. If Todd Boehly tax didn’t already exist, it definitely does now, because everybody knows that he’s putting it all on Klarna anyway over the next decade. This means that your Brightons and West Hams are suddenly able to command ridiculous fees for players who, even just five years ago, would have cost £60-70 million at an absolute maximum.
Whoever Manchester City’s next midfield target is – now that the Paqueta deal is “on ice” in the same way that Neanderthal remains are “on ice” somewhere from about 40,000 years ago – the selling club is going to be licking their lips, knowing they can charge a £20 million surplus on top of their value because City are getting further and further down their list. At some point the club will either be forced to massively overspend or compromise on quality, neither of which are appealing prospects to me.
However this market destruction caused by Chelsea seems to only work one way. Whilst clubs at the top level are being forced to spend silly amounts of money to complement their squads, Saudi Arabia, a country with almost an infinite pit of money, seemingly able to offer the likes of Kylian Mbappé generational wealth just for a one year stay in their league, are able to fleece said clubs for minimal fees.
Aymeric Laporte is on his way to Al Nassr for a fee which works out at about £23.5 million, a criminally low valuation for a player of his quality.
Whilst Saudi Arabia have been happy to buy the likes of Ruben Neves, Fabinho and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic for big fees, somehow Laporte is not deserving of that outlay. Nor is anybody in Europe happy to stump up the cash. There were reports of a potential late push from Real Madrid, but it evidently never materialised.
Aymeric Laporte is such an odd case, as he’s one of the top defenders in the world when he’s playing regularly. Unfortunately, due to an injury sustained in being an absolute hero against Aston Villa at the end of the 2021/22 season, he never really got going again last season and, by the end, he had Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias and John Stones all ahead of him due to form. He didn’t do anything wrong and, when you look at how it’s panned out, you can understand the player’s desire to move on to pastures new. His sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Elsewhere on the incomings from, Jeremy Doku is about to join from Stade Rennais. Formerly of Vincent Kompany’s Anderlecht, he brings something the squad doesn’t currently have which is blistering pace on the wings. He’s very direct, with an insane dribbling record, and has a good eye for goal. I’m just… I don’t know. I’m just not wowed by it.
A young, raw, pacey winger should be my absolute dream, I just don’t feel like it’s the profile of player that the club really uses much anymore so I don’t expect him to jump straight into the team any time soon.
Of course, this is Pep Guardiola, and if he wants a pacey, direct winger then that’s obviously what we’re going to be using going forward, so it’s a silly complaint to have. However, when there have been reports of Manchester City being concerned over his injury record and ability to pick up Pep’s system, it’s hard not to have reservations.
Still, his transfer fee is pretty reasonable for a player of his age and talent ceiling. If he becomes anywhere near the player he’s capable of being according to Football Manager, we’re in for a treat.
Match Report and Player Ratings: Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City (Premier League)
Pep Guardiola reveals what Manchester City could to force an early retirement
Confirmed Line-Ups: Aston Villa vs Manchester City (Premier League)
The BIG World-Cup Preview!
Manchester City undergo scouting mission on Juventus midfielder
Exclusive: Manchester City Plan Major Etihad Stadium Stand Redevelopment
News3 days ago
Decision made on referee Simon Hooper following Manchester City blunder ahead of Liverpool appointment
News3 days ago
Manchester City star to undergo tests on fresh injury in ‘coming hours and days’
Transfers3 days ago
Manchester City prepare €60 million investment in midfield and defensive signings for January
News3 days ago
FIFA Club World Cup UK broadcaster revealed ahead of Manchester City’s trip to Saudi Arabia