Manchester United’s defeat at the hands of Leicester City on Tuesday meant that they can no more mathematically challenge Manchester City’s points tally at the top of the Premier League. The blue side of Manchester thus became the champions of England, for the third time in four seasons — their fifth PL title overall.
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 11, 2021
Manchester City also find themselves in the finals of the UEFA Champions League, to be played later this month, and have also won a domestic tournament in the form of the Carabao Cup. No wonder they are widely regarded as the best team in all of Europe right now, with an unmatched squad depth.
But there’s a sense of cynicism in certain other quarters of the game.
Strong financial muscle
Despite joining the breakaway European Super League last month, Manchester City have never really been in a financial crisis following the club’s 2008 takeover of the club by the wealthy Sheikh Mansour. They have thus outspent most of their rivals when it comes to transfers, as this financial muscle has drawn criticism from purists of the game.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 20, 2021
The current squad, under the management of the high-flying Pep Guardiola and a team of competent backroom officials, has also been assembled in exchange of mind-boggling sums of money.
First billion dollar squad
Manchester City, in 2019, became the first club in the history of football to invest more than one billion euros ($1.1 billion) on the transfers of players that make up its current squad, according to research by the CIES Football Observatory.
Man City’s net transfer spend over the last 10 years has now surpassed £1 billion 🤑 pic.twitter.com/aw7oXvQld9
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 30, 2020
Guardiola, after succeeding Manuel Pellegrini in 2016 as the club’s manager, had spent in excess of £750m ($1bn) on new players by the end of 2019. He then went on to spend considerable money in the 2020 transfer windows as well.
City also had the largest net spend deficit between 2010-2019 (-€1,091billion /-$1.2 billion), ahead of PSG, Manchester United and Barcelona.
Spree of signings
Guardiola’s transfers started with Ilkay Gundogan in 2016, who arrived for around £20m ($28 million). In his first transfer window in charge, Guardiola’s other big money signings included the Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and John Stones, for initial fees totalling around £111m ($152m).
The likes of Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and Ederson all arrived in 2017 for big fees, as well.
ＨＥＲＥ ＨＥ ＩＳ！ 😍
Welcome Ruben Dias to City!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 29, 2020
Guardiola then brought in Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Club for a then club-record £57m ($78m), before being topped by Riyad Mahrez’s signing from Leicester City for £60m ($83m).
Further reinforcements Joao Cancelo and Rodri joined from Juventus and Atletico Madrid respectively. The latter was also a club record signing at the time.
City broke their transfer record last year when it signed defender Ruben Dias for a reported £64.3 million transfer from Benfica. Squad signing Nathan Ake from Bournemouth also cost north of 40 million pounds.
What that money means?
For a billion dollars, you can buy the most expensive house in America, twice, and still have some money left.
Called ‘The One’, this house is priced in the region of $450-500 million. This 1,00,000-square-foot mansion in Bel-Air, LA was developed by movie producer turned developer Nile Niami.
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Replete with a nightclub, four swimming pools, bowling alley and 360-degree vistas of sun-dappled Southern California, the symbol of America’s latest gilded age has generated a flood of media coverage since the price was announced in 2015, according to Bloomberg.
The owners of Manchester City clearly prefer football glory over buying fancy houses in The US, much to the annoyance of football traditionalists.
But it doesn’t look like we’re gonna go back on this neo-capitalistic aspect of modern football anytime soon. Money can’t buy dreams they say, but it can certainly lay the foundation for a blockbuster European football squad.
Image source: Twitter/Manchester City, Twitter/Premier League