Man City’s season has lost a lot of momentum with another exit in the Champions League compounding what looks like an unsuccessful defence of their Premier League title. City have not really strengthened their starting line up in recent transfer windows, instead bulking up the squad with good but not great players. Signings like Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and David Silva arrived in the early years of the current ownership but similar star power hasn’t been brought in recently. City have some fabulous players and are capable of decimating teams on their day, but they do need a shake up and most importantly, an infusion of star power. This is complicated by Financial Fair Play restrictions but here are three players they could look to sign to take them back to the top.
Morgan Schneiderlin – Southampton
Scout Report Schneiderlin is the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League and one of the top five in Europe. His ability to intercept, tackle and maintain positional discipline has been key to Southampton boasting one of the best defences in England. He is a good passer and capable of popping up with a few goals, but it’s his defensive work which makes him so valuable. An athletic and disciplined presence in midfield.
Where does he fit? City don’t have a proper defensive midfielder. Yaya is at his best further forward or with license to roam forwards, Fernandinho is capable defensively but came to City’s attention at Shaktar Donetsk primarily as an attacking central midfielder and Fernando looks cumbersome. Without a proper defensive midfield presence the City midfield can be wide open. Schneiderlin would be a huge upgrade defensively, allowing the attacking talent City possess to flourish further forwards. He would also allow for any combination with the current midfielders to thrive off, knowing that Schneiderlin will be handling the defensive duties.
How much? Southampton got big money for their stars last season and considered Schneiderlin to be unsellable as they couldn’t easily replace him. However, despite his performances indicating otherwise, he was unhappy at not be allowed to sample Champions League football. Bidding would have to start at £25m, maybe even up to £30m. It’s a lot, but it’s worth it and upgrading the defensive side of the midfield play is critical if City are to keep their place in the domestic pecking order and progress in Europe.
Pedro Rodriguez -Barcelona
Scout Report Pedro is a goal scoring wide forward/attacking midfielder who is known for his consistency and hard work. In 305 Barcelona games he has scored 95 goals and made 60 assists. He is shifty rather than downright past but is a good dribbler and very good decision maker. Rather like Thomas Muller, he’s not overly glamorous but he has been very effective throughout his career.
Where does he fit? City have a lot of players in attacking midfield, but aside from a career best goal scoring season from David Silva, they don’t score often enough. The goal scoring burden, especially against elite opposition, too often falls on Sergio Aguero. Adding a player like Pedro would give City two goal scorers without having to sacrifice tactical solidity by playing with two out and out strikers as they have done this season. He would also bring defensive work rate beyond what is offered by Nasri and Navas.
How much? Pedro doesn’t fit in at Barcelona with the Messi, Neymar and Suarez triumvirate and has been stuck on the bench. The complicating factor is Barcelona’s transfer ban, which might mean they don’t want to part with any players. However, a bunch of young attacking midfielders looking for game time, it’s probable that they can let Pedro leave given that he’s pushing 28 now. £20-25m would be fair in the circumstances.
Ricardo Rodriguez – Wolfsburg
Scout Report Quietly making a big name for himself at Wolfsburg, Rodriguez is emerging as one of the best left backs in the world. He’s got everything required of the modern left back; pace, power, good in attack and very good in defence. It’s his defensive ability which sets apart from a lot of other modern full backs. His pace and agility allows him to keep up with wingers and his effort and endeavour makes him hard to get past. He is also a fabulous ball striker, taking set pieces and supplying quality crosses when getting forwards in attack.
Where does he fit? Simply, City aren’t good enough at left back. Kolarov and Clichy are both good, but neither of them are elite. They are both prone to error and haven’t shown an ability to shut down the left hand side. Rodriguez would be a huge upgrade. He would be an amalgam of both current options. Defensively solid like Clichy and dangerous in attack like Kolarov.
How much? Wolfsburg have heavy financial backing which would them hard to buy from. However, with whispers that they want to sign a top end striker and are about to start getting a lot of bids for Kevin de Bruyne which they’ll want to reject, they might feel selling Rodriguez would be the more acceptable option. £25m would seem likely, but as Rodriguez is only 22 years old it would be a big upgrade for a long time.