Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea ran away with the league last season leaving Manchester City in second place; eight points behind the eventual winners. City knew that reinforcements were needed in order to challenge again next season.
Following Chelsea’s dominance, City responded by spending £126m on new arrivals to the Etihad Stadium at an average age of 21.6. The squad was revamped and bit part players such as Matija Nastasic, Karim Rekik and Alvaro Negredo were allowed to leave the club. Both Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic left the club on loan as City looked to bolster their forward line.
How have their recruits fared so far?
Kevin De Bruyne – £52m from Wolfsburg
City made headlines in the summer when announcing the signing of Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne for a mammoth £52m from Wolfsburg which made him the second most expensive player in British transfer history. It was not De Bruyne’s first stint in England following a largely unsuccessful stint at Stamford Bridge.
De Bruyne has hit the ground running and has already established himself as a firm favourite at the Etihad. He has slotted in to the attack effortlessly and has started to create a link up with City’s other creative talent such as David Silva.
The 24 year old ended 2015 as the player with the most assists of any player in the calendar year. Thanks to his form with Wolfsburg and his performances in Manchester, he finished the year on 28 league assists. His best years are ahead of him and if he can pick up his away form, it will make Chelsea’s judgement to sell him look even sillier.
Raheem Sterling – £50m from Liverpool
Raheem Sterling made no secret of his desire to leave Anfield in search of Champions League football and City were the first club to pounce; splashing £50m to secure the winger’s services. Sterling is one the most promising young English players and following the significant £5.1bn television deal, the transfer fee did not raise many eyebrows.
Despite being booed at almost every away ground this season, with a trip to Anfield still to come, the 21 year old has endured a mixed season so far at City. Ineffective displays have been followed by moments of brilliance.
With Sterling still adapting to life at City, Aguero returning to full fitness, it is natural for Sterling to face struggles. There is plenty of time for the England international to make his mark at the Etihad and return to his best form.
Nicolas Otamendi – £31m from Valencia
City’s move for Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi was another attempt to solve their centre back conundrum. Other than skipper Vincent Kompany, City have lacked a real leader in defence. The £40m fee paid for Eliaquim Mangala has proved a colossal waste of money and the Frenchman was offered as a makeweight in any deal for the Argentine.
Otamendi did not have the easiest start to life in Manchester as injuries forced Manuel Pellegrini into rotating his backline. The 27 year old has took his place alongside Martin Demichelis and Mangala this season and has endured a mixed performance thus far. Some excellent displays have been overshadowed by some kamikaze defending which has put his side in danger.
In order for his move to be successful, Otamendi needs a stable partner in the shape of Kompany or another well performing centre back. If allowed the time to settle next to a consistent partner, Otamendi can be the answer to City’s problems.
VERDICT: The jury’s out
Fabian Delph – £8m from Aston Villa
Fabian Delph received heavy criticism following his move to Manchester City from relegation threatened Aston Villa. People thought that Delph simply wasn’t good enough and would not receive first team football due to the strength of City’s squad.
However, Delph has become one of City’s most important players by adding stamina, work-rate and hard work in the Citizen’s midfield. The £8m price tag has proven to be a steal especially for an English midfielder with a vast amount of Premier League experience.
The key for Delph is consistency and if Pellegrini rewards his impressive form with a permanent spot in the starting eleven, the 25 year old should set his sights on landing a ticket to France for Euro 2016.
Patrick Robert – £5m from Fulham
Patrick Roberts was regarded as a signing for the future after impressing with Championship side Fulham and at youth level with England. Roberts was signed for a £5m initial fee which could potential rise to £11m.
However, opportunities have been limited in a blue shirt and the youngster has just three substitute appearances since his summer move. Rumours have surfaced regarding interest from Bournemouth and a loan move is probably the best move.
He has simply not played enough to judge.
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