The Premier League champions would have to pay record-breaking fees to land the England duo, but the massive cost involved is not a concern
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious financial impact on football clubs across the globe and the knock-on effect has been a relatively quiet transfer window… so far.
Going into August, there had been just three moves costing more than £50 million ($70m) – compared to 17 two years earlier.
However, Premier League champions Manchester City could shake the market to its very core if they complete two mega-deals for Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and Tottenham’s Harry Kane in the coming weeks.
Both would cost more than the current British transfer record of £89.3m ($116.4m), which Manchester United paid Juventus for midfielder Paul Pogba in 2016, and the proposed deals would likely result in a domino effect, as Villa and Spurs, for starters, would suddenly have significant of sums of money to spend.
But how are City in a position to fund record-breaking deals for two much-coveted England internationals in the same summer while some of the biggest clubs across the continent are being forced to remain prudent?
Firstly, Premier League clubs have the benefit of a strong TV rights deal that is helping to hold up incomes. Manchester United, for example, have already invested heavily in Jadon Sancho with Raphael Varane set to follow, while Chelsea are poised to spend big on a star centre-forward.
In City’s case, they also went into the summer on the back of one of their most successful seasons in the club’s history, with large prize money garnered from winning the Premier League, as well as the Carabao Cup, and for reaching the Champions League final – their best ever run in the lucrative continental competition.
It’s also worth pointing out that they didn’t make a single signing during the January transfer window, while Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres arrived last summer for a combined £125m ($173m).
Leroy Sane, meanwhile, left for Bayern Munich in a £45m ($62m) deal, although the figures did not appear in the 2019-20 accounts.
Sane wasn’t the only high-earner to depart last year either. David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi also left last summer and the wage bill has only been further reduced by the recent departure of record goalscorer Sergio Aguero to Barcelona.
Of course, buying both Kane and Grealish would still represent a hugely significant outlay, particularly for a club that, for all its riches, has never spent more than £62 million ($79m) on a single player.
However, this summer’s transfer budget has already been boosted by a number of moves.
City received around £10m ($13.5m) after Sancho’s move to United because of the sell-on clause put in his contract when he left the Etihad Stadium for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.
In addition, two loan deals have, as expected, become permanent transfers, with left-back Angelino completing a move to RB Leipzig and Jack Harrison switching to Leeds United, to bring in a combined £28m ($39m), while academy striker Lukas Nmecha, who spent last season at Anderlecht, has joined Wolfsburg for £7.2m ($10m).
There will be more departures before the window closes, too, with Serbian midfielder Ivan Ilic closing in on a move to Verona for around £7m ($9.7m). Venezuelan midfielder Yangel Herrera, who was on loan at Granada last season, and young wingers Morgan Rogers and Jayden Braaf are also available and could potentially bring in a further £30m ($42m).
Spain international Pedro Porro was expected to make a permanent switch to Sporting for £7.5m ($10m), but with a second year on loan and purchase price already agreed, the Portuguese champions may wait a little longer to seal the deal.
City also could also benefit from loan fees, with a number of players in demand, including exciting young striker Liam Delap, who is being watched by a number of Championship clubs. Of course, any move could depend on new arrivals, particularly that of Kane, with Pep Guardiola presently short of options in attack.
For all the money coming into the club, though, it’s likely that a big name will be sold to balance the books if both Kane and Grealish are acquired.
Bernardo Silva is the most likely to depart, with Spanish clubs following the Portuguese international, but it may be difficult for any of them to find the money to meet City’s valuation of the attacking midfielder.
Aymeric Laporte would also attract plenty of interest if he were put on the market and the centre-half was frustrated at losing his regular starting place to the resurgent John Stones last season, but there is conviction within the club that the Spain international has the quality to fight his way back into Guardiola’s plans after an impressive Euro 2020 campaign for Spain.
Without the exit of a first-team player, there could be an impact on how high City can go in their pursuit of Kane, particularly if Spurs chairman Daniel Levy digs in his heels over a fee.
City have walked away from big deals in the past, including Alexis Sanchez and Fred, when they felt the price became too high.
A £100 million ($139m) bid for Grealish has already been submitted to Villa but Tottenham are expected to want even more for England captain Kane.
While City have the money to spend handsomely in this transfer window, they still want value for money and are believed to have alternatives if a deal for 28-year-old Kane cannot be done.
But there’s no doubt that they have the requisite funds to make two stellar signings that would enable Guardiola to challenge for a fourth Premier League title in five years and claim the club’s first Champions League.