The window finally slammed shut last night as Premier League teams finalised their squads for the coming season. It’s been an odd one for City. On the one hand, we left a lot of deals to last-minute (unusual considering the way we have done business in recent windows) and our main targets weren’t secured.
Javi Martinez, the Spanish midfielder, signed for Bayern Munich from Athletic Bilbao. Bayern have got themselves a world-beater in a position City were crying out to fill. Deep-lying midfielders who love to pass and link up play are few and far between. Alonso does it brilliantly for Spain and Real Madrid, and Andrea Pirlo is probably the finest exponent of the role I’ve seen. Martinez, to me, looks like he could occupy that sort of role for years to come – he looks absolute class.
Mancini clearly wanted him but City baulked at the fee and allowed Munich to steal a march. That may be something we regret for years to come if Martinez fulfills the promise I think he has. There was no huge signing this time around. No Falcaos or Thiago Silvas. It’s been a more prudent window for City, proof that the transfer strategy of recent times is being shelved in light of FFP.
However, we did manage to ship out a lot of dead wood and replace them new, hopefully better, signings. Here we have a look at all the deals done just before yesterday’s deadline.
Nastasic arrived from Fiorentina for £13 plus Stefan Savic. According to reports from journalists based in Italy, this is a man with real potential. He’s 21 and was a revelation in his breakthrough Serie A season last season. Fiorentina finished 13th in the league, a disappointing campaign for them, but the emergence of Nastasic gave them some cheer. Former Viola coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, a close friend of Mancini, was a huge fan of Nastasic, once proclaiming “If I manage to stay, I will make him play.” Mihajlovic didn’t stay, he was sacked the following day, but his faith in Nastasic’s talent was continued by new coach Delio Rossi who had to play Nastasic in his first match in charge against AC Milan because of injuries to key defenders. What a daunting debut, playing against the famous Milan side complete with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the finest forward in Serie A. Nastasic was excellent and Fiorentina secured a 0-0 draw. Nastasic’s career had begun.
Gazetta dello Sport ran the headline ‘a little star is born’ the following day and Nastasic’s season went from strength to strength. He played 21 times and was widely regarded as one of the best Viola players. City have signed a player with great potential who has a year under his belt in a league famous for its defenders. If he fulfills the potential most people in the game feel he has, City could have themselves a steal.
The Spanish midfielder arrived from Benfica for £16m and will be the replacement for the outgoing Nigel de Jong. This signing confirms that Mancini felt De Jong had limitations to his game. De Jong may have been a brilliant ball winner, but in possession he was two-dimensional, often passing in a David Batty-like fashion – sideways and backwards. Mancini sees Garcia has just as adept defensively but with more ability when in possession. This is Mancini looking to evolve the side and i hope for his sake this works because De Jong was a firm fans favourite and one of the best in Europe at snuffing out the opposition and making tackles. Garcia has to prove he can fill those shoes and offer a more cultured dimension when on the ball.
He has 1 cap for Spain and the £16m price tag is considerably lower than the £24m release clause it seemed City would have to trigger to secure his services.
Signed from Inter Milan for £3m. Mancini is a long-time admirer of Maicon, having signed him from Monaco when Inter manager. Maicon carved out a reputation at Inter as one of the best right-backs in world football, having huge influence on the attacking side of Inter’s play. In 2008/2009 season Jose Mourinho said “Inter are a great side, but without phenomenons like Ibra and Maicon they would really, really struggle.” At 31, Maicon’s very best days are probably behind him but he is one of the finest examples of an attacking full-back the world has seen.
The most interesting aspect of this deal is the confirmation it brings that Mancini is dead set on switching to three at the back. With Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards, City already had the two best right-sided full-backs in the league. If we were going to play a flat back four again this season, there’s no way we would have signed another right-back. Mancini is determined to design a new City approach; one which floods the midfield and attacks from all angles. Maicon allows him to do this.
Direct replacement for the outgoing Adam Johnson. The fee for Sinclair could reach £8m which means we have replaced Johnson and made a profit. It’s hardly a signing to set the pulse racing, and he has his work cut out to establish himself in the city side, but at the very least we have got ourselves a young winger with a better attitude than the one we let go. Swansea will be happy anyway having used the money we gave them to sign the excellent Pablo Hernandez from Valencia at a bargain £5.5 fee.
Odd doesn’t come close to describing this one. Richard Wright was famous for being shit years ago and most people though he’d retired. Obviously not. The ex-Arsenal and Ipswich man arrives as third choice goalkeeper and we all have to pray he isn’t needed.
Nigel de Jong
The only player we have let go in this window who will be missed is Nigel de Jong. AC Milan have got themselves a great player, one who never shirks a challenge and is the ultimate pro.
Savic left as part of deal to bring in Matija Nastasic and you won’t find a single City fan complaining. Savic was woeful, rarely, if ever, looking comfortable in a defensive situation. Every time the ball came near him he looked scared, a very worrying trait for a centre back. Hopefully for him, a move will re-energise and re-focus him because he damn well needs it.
Roque Santa Cruz
The lasting legacy of the Mark Hughes-era will be the high-earning shite he left us, and no player typifies that better than Santa Cruz. He leaves for Malaga on a season-long loan deal and by the time that runs out his city contract will be up. Thank fuck. He made 6 league starts after joining in 2009.
Boyata has gone to FC Twente on loan for 6 months.
McGivern has joined Hibs on loan until January.
Much of yesterday’s happenings are captured in this video. In it, you see deals being finalised, the team train, and the team photograph being taken. It’s a must watch.