Following a less-than-successful debut season in English football, the pressure is well and truly on Pep Guardiola this year to prove to Manchester City’s owners that he is the man to establish the club as English football’s dominant force. Despite being one of the league’s most consistent sides last season, a six-week spell at the turn of the year all but killed City’s chances of challenging Chelsea at the top of the table. Four defeats from nine games isn’t always enough to derail a club’s season but the form of the eventual title winners and Tottenham during the second half of the campaign helped keep City at a distance during the final few weeks.
While some expected the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss to be given his marching orders at the end of a season in which the club finished third in the league as well as failing in both domestic cup competitions and the Champions League, Guardiola made it clear he was committed to the project at the Etihad. And, if there was any doubt as to the club’s backing of their manager, the way they have conducted their business this summer shows the owners are very much behind Guardiola.
As well as the departure of a number of fringe players, City have also seen a host of long-serving veterans leave the club this summer, including the likes of Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Jesus Navas, Bacary Sagna, and Aleksandar Kolarov. Guardiola has been allowed to refill his squad with world-class talent, with City proving their ambitions this season with a string of big-money arrivals. As highlighted in Oddschecker’s betting preview of City’s 17/18 campaign, it’s clear the bookies feel Guardiola is going to get it right in his second year at the club. But who are these players that will be tasked with helping the club challenge for honours this season? Let’s take a closer look at the men behind the price tags.
Bernardo Silva: Having come through the system at Benfica, Bernardo Silva’s real breakthrough came at Monaco, where he spent four successful seasons. During his time in Ligue 1, the midfielder established himself as one of European football’s most exciting young midfielders, convincing City to spend £43 million to bring him to Manchester. The Portugal international has all the tools to be a huge hit in the Premier League. Capable of playing across midfield, Silva also brings an attacking threat with him. And, at 22, he is still a few years away from his prime.
Ederson: When it became painfully obvious that Claudio Bravo wasn’t the keeper City needed if they were going to win the league, the hunt was on for a new number-one. While Ederson cost Manchester almost £35 million, you could be forgiven for not knowing a lot about the 23-year old Brazilian tasked with ending the club’s hunt for a world class stopper. Another to have come through the ranks at Benfica, Ederson played a key role in the Portuguese giants winning back-to-back league titles, catching the eye of City in the process. He might still have a lot to learn, but City clearly feel Ederson could be the club’s number one for the next 10 years.
Kyle Walker: Ever since breaking into the first team at Sheffield United as a teenager, Walker had been tipped to become one of the best right backs in England. Having been quickly snapped up by Tottenham at 19, Walker had to spend time learning his craft out on loan before being given the chance to make the right back position his own at Spurs in the 2011/12 season. From there, the defender became a virtual ever-present at Tottenham, establishing himself as an England international over the past couple of years. At 27, Walker is entering the peak of his career and there have been few better in that right back position over the past couple of years.
Benjamin Mendy: The most expensive signing so far this summer has been that of French left back Benjamin Mendy from Monaco. Costing around £50 million, the Ligue 1 club were able to hold out for such a hefty fee due to the number of clubs interested in the 23-year old. After breaking into the Le Havre team as a youngster, Mendy caught the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs during a three-year spell with Marseille before moving to Monaco. There, Mendy’s stock continued to rise, so much so that City have now made him the most expensive defender of all time.