PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS SPEND RECORD £800m; CITY EXITS FOR ALVARO NEGREDO, EMYR HUWS, MICAH RICHARDS AND POSSIBLY JOHN GUIDETTI
With one eye on Financial Fair play and UEFA Champions League squad limits, it’s perhaps possible to see why Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini offloaded a series of players who were unlikely to get much playing time at the Etihad after a summer mainly spent signing players such as Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala and getting existing players to sign extended deals.
Having lost out on a rumoured move for Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, perhaps due to huge wage demands, City still concluded a deal to sell injured striker Alvaro Negredo, 29, to Valencia after a period on loan this season. Negredo, nicknamed “The Beast” by City fans, had scored 23 goals in a partnership mainly with Sergio Aguero before sustaining a shoulder injury in January in a Capital One Cup game victory at West Ham.
Although he returned later in the season he never rediscovered his scoring form and was subsequently left out of the Spain squad for the World Cup in Brazil. Negredo finished with still impressive stats of 23 goals in 49 matches for City, including two hat tricks.
Negredo’s pre-season was hit by an injury to his metatarsal in a friendly against Hearts which would rule him out until October. With Aguero being nursed back to full fitness and the lower foreign player limit imposed this season in the Champions League stories began circulating about a possible exit for the fans favourite.
Valencia have subsequently stepped in with the loan deal with a commitment to buy the £25m rated striker at the end of the season.
If losing one striker wasn’t puzzling enough, City look set to sell John Guidetti to Celtic. The 22 year old had a great season in 2011/2012 with Feyenoord but was struck down with a mystery illness that prevented him from playing in Euro 2012.
He has subsequently failed to break through for City and a loan spell at Stoke last season proved to be a relative failure too.
City could go into September with just three senior strikers, with doubts over the ability of Aguero to stay fit during a gruelling season, although the obvious alternative option is to deploy Yaya Toure as a deep lying second striker to provide the physical presence that Negredo so obviously gave City up front.
Midfielder Emyr Huws went on loan to Wigan Athletic earlier in the summer but, following the arrival of Porto defensive midfielder Fernando, the Welsh youngster has signed for Uwe Rosler’s side on a permanent basis for an undisclosed fee.
Defender Micah Richards saw his opportunities similarly limited by the arrival of Bacary Sagna in the summer and will spend the the last year of his contract with City at Serie A club Fiorentina on loan. His City career had already been hampered by a succession of injuries in latter years and the loan move seems to have brought the curtain down on his City career.
Richards, 26, was City’s longest serving player and was once rated in the £20m bracket, with 10 goals from 245 appearances and the news means that his former club Oldham Athletic may well not see a penny from their 20% sell-on clause arranged when City signed him as a youngster.
Richards tweeted his appreciation for City fans thanking the club for his 12 years spent, and the fans for the good luck messages.
He added: “City will always be in my heart.”
Although fans may be disappointed at the lack of incoming players, the only major departure from City’s squad was Negredo and that was to allow Manuel Pellegrini to balance City’s Champions League squad without leaving any senior players out.
The other departures were all home qualified players but were unlikely to get playing time at the Etihad.