Manchester City fans were buzzing at the start of the 2016-17 season, for they had hired the world’s most-sought after manager and utilised their deep pockets to sign some of the brightest talents to their already well-stocked squad. Fast forward 10 months and things do not look pretty.
City huffed and puffed to a third-place finish in the Premier League, far behind second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, let alone champions Chelsea. Their run in the FA Cup ended in disappointment as well, well-beaten by a resurgent Arsenal side in the penultimate stage, but it was their continental exit at the hands of Monaco that put the heat on Pep Guardiola.
Leading 5-3 from the first leg in their round of 16 clash, City somehow contrived to lose 3-1 in the return leg, with the Catalan failing to win a title for the first time in his glittering managerial career.
To analyse what went wrong, The Statesman starts with their summer acquisitions and runs the rule over them, finding out if they can be considered hits or misses, below:
Considered the marquee signing of Pep Guardiola’s reign at Manchester City, it is fair to assume Stones has fallen short of the considerable expectations laid on his young shoulders. £50 million is a massive fee for any footballer, but when you are a defender and an English one at that, things get really interesting.
Stones struggled to justify his mammoth price tag, suddenly looking like a shadow of the player he was at Everton. Despite being 6’2, Stones’ apparent lack of physicality was targeted by the lesser and big teams alike.
At 22, he can only improve that fit-again Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi were Guardiola’s preferred centre-back pairing towards the end of the season does not bode well for the man touted to be the next ‘Rio Ferdinand’.
Fee: £50 Million
While pictures of Sane’s cringeworthy tattoo may be going viral on social media, there can be no denying that the German winger has been an unequivocal hit. He took a while to get going, but once he scored against Arsenal in December, there was no looking back. He shrugged off his considerable price-tag with ease, terrorising defences with his searing pace and intelligent play.
Nine goals and four assists (in all competitions) came in the final months of the campaign, with the 21-year-old firmly established in Guardiola’s line-up. Standing at just over six feet tall, the jet-heeled winger’s contribution in the final third coupled with an excellent work-rate won him many admirers in his debut Premier League season.
Bigger and better things await in 2017-18.
Fee: £46.5 Million
City received plenty of criticism for splashing out close to £30 million on a largely-untested Brazilian teenager when they made news of the move public in July. And, despite having made just 10 appearances since moving from Palmeiras in January, Jesus’s presence on the pitch has given City fans a renewed sense of optimism for next season.
Why? Well, for starters, the electric Brazilian has seven goals and four assists to his name already and seems to have finally answered the question many City faithful were dreading.
What next after Sergio Aguero?
Some Samba magic and a bagful of goals it seems. Whether City employ an Argentine-Brazilian strike force in the future or not, Jesus is the real deal. Despite his slight frame, the 20-year-old Brazilian has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and there will be terrace chants at the Etihad in his name sooner than later.
Fee: £27 Million
Fresh off the back of a successful season with Celta Vigo and a productive European Championships with Spain, Nolito’s move to Manchester City seemed to have come at the right time in his career. And, despite making an excellent start in the Premier League, five goals and two assists in his first two months, Nolito’s form rapidly tailed off as the season progressed.
With Leroy Sane picking up serious momentum and Raheem Sterling enjoying a productive second season with City, the experienced Spaniard found himself on the fringes of Guardiola’s side.
In fact, he has not started a single Premier League game in 2017 and looks set for a return to his homeland.
Fee: £13.8 Million
Once coveted by all of Europe, Ilkay Gundogan’s stock had begun to waver in his final two seasons with Borussia Dortmund. Not because of poor performances, but the fact that the German was so injury-prone.
City took a chance on the central midfielder and while the 26-year-old made a solid impression initially, with a two-goal blitz against European giants Barcelona a standout performance, his knee injury in December cruelly cut-short his season.
While he will be fit in time before August, the fact that he made just 10 appearances in the 2016-17 season makes him a flop, at least for now.
Fee: £20 Million
As the saying goes, save the best for the last. Eyebrows were raised when Joe Hart was packed off to Torino by Guardiola and Bravo was signed to replace him.
After 22 appearances in the Premier League, having made just 33 saves and kept five clean sheets, it’s safe to say Bravo was a major flop and perhaps a major reason in why City didn't do as well as they could have. It is a red flag when in a team sport, a single player is highlighted for his team’s failures, but such has been the case with Bravo.
Pep Guardiola best bring out his chequebook and try to find a keeper who can actually make a save this summer, for City desperately need a No.1 who inspires confidence.
Fee: £17 Million
PS: While Manchester City made several more transfers, we have focused only on those players that were meant to be first-team regulars.