Fullbacks are the new forwards: Manchester City’s splurge
Having already broken the Premier League transfer record for a defender once this summer, Manchester City have gone and done it again with a move for Benjamin Mendy.
After splashing £50m on England international Kyle Walker, plus £26m on Danilo, the Citizens have surpassed that fee once more with a £51m deal agreed for the Monaco left-back.
That takes the current spending spree on fullbacks to around £125m alone – quite an astonishing amount of money for defenders. One could say fullbacks are the new forwards.
Forget the fees, though – these players were needed. Having released or sold veteran squad members Pablo Zalayeta, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Aleksander Kolarov, reinforcements on the flanks were imperative.
Having struggled defensively all season, Pep Guardiola – to play his particular style of football – needed roving fullbacks in the Dani Alves mould, who, in essence, are auxilary wingers.
In Walker, Danilo and now Mendy, they have three of the most jet-heeled, attacking defenders in world football.
Mendy in particular, who impressed massively for Monaco last season, is a perfect fit for Guardiola. The French international spent an educational season under the watchful eye of Marcelo Bielsa at Marseille.
Of course ‘El Loco’ and Guardiola are firm friends and philosophical allies who both coach a highly-offensive, ultra-quick pressing game. Mendy should have no issues stepping into such a system.
Walker too will be familiar with it having spent the last few seasons under Mauricio Pochettino, another ‘Bielsista’. His defending, though, and tactical awareness may have to step up a notch under the former Barcelona coach.
Some have criticised Guardiola for the outlandish outlay on the three players, particularly Walker’s, but his job is not to negotiate fees – it’s to coach and improve players and win games.
The former is left to Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain as chief executive and director of football.
As an elite club, and one of the most affluent in world football, signing some of the best players in their positions is a prerequisite.
Sure, you can question the validity of a £50m deal for Kyle Walker, but transfer fees, particularly this summer, have long strolled past reality.
Forget the money, Man City’s pre-season squad surgery continues with haste.