The frontman had already demonstrated he could find the net in the Premier League, and after scoring at a regular pace in the Netherlands, he appeared to have the credentials to step up to life at the Etihad Stadium.
He struggled in his first season and was clearly not involved in Pep Guardiola’s plans last season and speedily dispatched on loan.
Surely, with no future at the Etihad Stadium, he’s destined to move on this window.
The story of last season
Stoke City might have thought they’d snared a bargain when they added Bony on loan at the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign, with the Cote d’Ivoire international deemed surplus to requirements at the Etihad Stadium.
Perhaps it was a decision that left Guardiola short of attacking options—at least until the arrival of Gabriel Jesus—but that also demonstrates just what the Spaniard thought of Bony’s capacity to fit into his plans.
In principle, a move to Stoke could have been ideal.
A club at that level might have intended to build around Bony—as Swansea did—in order to get the most out of his qualities.
Similarly, the forward’s combination of physicality and technical prowess could have been just right for the Potters as Hughes looks to continue to transition them away from being a brutish outfit and more of a progressive, attractive unit.
Despite the support of the likes of Mark Arnautovic, Ibrahim Afellay, Joe Allen and Xherdan Shaqiri, Bony flopped, ending the campaign with just two goals in 10 outings.
Both of those goals came in a 3-1 home win against his former club Swansea, and Bony didn’t play in the Premier League in 2017.
At international level, he lost his starting place in Michel Dussuyer’s side as the Frenchman initially preferred Jonathan Kodjia at the Nations Cup.
Bony started and scored against Togo in the second group game, but was ineffectual as the Elephants’ miserable title defence ended against Morocco.
What could happen this window?
If he stays at City, Bony is surely doomed to spend a campaign in the reserves, barring disastrous injury fortunes for the Sky Blues.
Despite his abject campaign last term, he’s still only 28 and should have a good few years in the tank yet.
Plus, various Premier League sides may smell out the possibility of buying a talented forward on the cheap, while the prospect of revitalising the former Vitesse Arnhem man may appeal to various coaches up and down the division.
There’s reported interest from France, where ambitious Marseille and LOSC Lille have both been linked to his signature.
Certainly, the more sedate Ligue 1 could be a happy hunting ground for the Francophone frontman, although it remains to be seen how he would fit in under Marcelo Bielsa should he opt for the latter.
Expectedly, Chinese clubs are also eyeing his signature according to the Independent, with City looking to recoup approximately £14 million from one of several unnamed CSL outfits.
However, perhaps the most likely destination is another Premier League club, with various sources suggesting that Everton, West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion are all considering a move for Bony.
Earlier in the summer, the hitman vowed to “show that Wilfried Bony is still the same player” and suggested that the difficult times were behind him. However, the expectation is that Guardiola has already decided that no redemption will be forthcoming at City.
What to expect next season
With the chances of a return to any kind of prominence at City so slim, it’s surely time for Bony to move on from the Etihad Stadium.
He cannot afford to waste another one of his prime years as he did last season—making just 10 league appearances—and must prioritise game time above all else.
It would be a shame if Bony followed in the footsteps of Jiangsu Suning new boy Benjamin Moukandjo and moved to China while still in his 20s, and he’d be served well to prioritise France or another EPL side.
Ambitious West Ham could certainly be an ideal platform for the forward to reinvent himself, although perhaps a switch to Ligue 1 and Marseille, where he’d be supplied by Dimitri Payet, might be the safest bet for Bony to get back to his best.
Following the sale of Romelu Lukaku, Everton are also going to be in the market for another hitman to lead the line. If they do turn to the Ivorian, he’ll certainly have the kind of support players to give him every chance of rediscovering his goalscoring touch.