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Man City's summer transfer window: No Kane but Guardiola still has a powerful squad

11:00 BST 01/09/2021
Pep Guardiola Jack Grealish Manchester City GFX
The Premier League champions broke the British record to bring in Jack Grealish and kept the players that delivered last season's success

Manchester City have one of the strongest squads in Europe - with the exception of one position.

Signing a striker was a priority this summer but, after missing out on top target Harry Kane and opting out of a move for Cristiano Ronaldo, Pep Guardiola will have to last until January at least without a frontman.

The Catalan coach says he is happy with his squad and was able to win the Premier League last season as well as reach the final of the Champions League without a No.9 for much of the campaign with Sergio Aguero unavailable.

But it will be an even bigger test to hold off an expected tough challenge from a stronger Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United this season.

Here Goal looks at the transfer window and how it worked out for City...

Incomings

Guardiola believes his squad is stronger than it was last season which is remarkable considering he has made just one major signing.

That new arrival was Jack Grealish, from Aston Villa, in a £100 million ($139m) deal that set a new British record.

And there is a huge excitement at what he will bring to the squad; his attacking flair and dribbling threat made him Villa's standout player and, at 25, the best is yet to come.

Grealish and Kane were always City's two main targets so missing out on the Tottenham striker does leave a major sense of frustration.

The England captain virtually guarantees a surfeit of goals and could have taken City to an even higher level. But his contract situation, with three years remaining on his current deal, meant that Spurs were always in a strong position over negotiations.

Despite wanting to leave, Kane admitted defeat over any move and City were short of alternatives that they deemed good enough.

Initially rejected, Ronaldo was considered when he was offered back to the club, before he finally moved to the other side of town with Manchester United.

Fellow superstar Lionel Messi also moved from Barcelona, and despite wanting him for several years, they showed no interest as he moved to Paris Saint-Germain.

Guardiola has plenty of attacking options to play as false nine but it's a big ask to be successful without an out-and-out striker once again.

Outgoings

The only exits from last season's first-team squad were Aguero and Eric Garcia, and while both were free transfers, City did recoup money elsewhere by offloading fringe players.

Aguero's departure was always going to be tough for fans as they lost the greatest striker in the club's history but the impact on the squad is less severe than it could have been. Illness and injury wrecked most of his final season and City, by and large, thrived without him.

Guardiola would have liked to keep Garcia, but the Spanish defender made clear last summer that he wouldn't be signing a new contract as he wanted to return home to Barcelona.

More important for City is the players they have managed to keep after Guardiola confirmed that "two or three players" wanted to leave.

While John Stones and Ruben Dias were the rocks at the heart of last season's defence, the quality of Aymeric Laporte has not been called into question and he will fight for his place back in the starting line-up after no club could make a move for the Spain international.

Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were also players linked with moves away, but all will stay and have already shown their commitment in the opening weeks of the season.

Renewals

In what was a relatively quiet window, City's best bit of business may well have been to tie down senior players to longer term contracts.

Dias helped transformed City's back four with his organisation and quality following his move from Benfica last season and has been rewarded with a deal that keeps him at the club until 2027.

His central defensive partner John Stones also completed a sensational turnaround in form by signing a five-year deal running until 2026.

With Kevin De Bruyne also signing an extension at the end of last season and proposals for Ederson and Phil Foden on the table, many of City's best players now have their futures settled.

A leader in the dressing room, Fernandinho was also out of contract at the end of last season but has signed for another season despite interest from his native Brazil.

Securing stars to long deals seems more important than ever with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on football finances and other stars such as Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba prepared to run down their contract after seeing Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Memphis Depay move for free.

City also have hopes that some of their academy players could follow in the footsteps of Foden, with highly-rated Cole Palmer and Liam Delap signing contract extensions as they spend the season with the first team.

Appraisal - B

It would be difficult to ignore the disappointment of missing out on a striker, but Guardiola still has an incredible squad to work with. This group of players was good enough to win the Premier League at a canter last season with the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez enjoying stellar campaigns.

Added to that mix is Grealish, England's Euro 2020 darling and a superb player who will only get better under Guardiola's guidance.

City thrived without a No.9 for large parts of last season, given Aguero's injury problems, and will be looking to repeat the trick this time around.