Since Manchester City’s takeover in 2008, they have a spent around £430 million on new players, helping the club to win it’s first league title in 44 years. Along with huge transfer fees, the largest figure being £38 million for Sergio Aguero from Athletico Madrid in 2011, City have tempted some of the finest players in the world with extravagant weekly salaries.
This proved to be financial risk that paid off with last seasons championship, as well as FA cup success the year before. But what now? This season has seen City regress, finishing bottom of their champions league group and trailing Manchester United by 15 points with just nine games left to play.
There has been much talk of a ‘clear-out’ of players this summer, moving on members of the squad who are unhappy, out of form, or simply forgotten about. But how easy will this be?
Samir Nasri has largely disappointed since his move from Arsenal in 2011. Troubled with slight injuries, a questionable attitude and sheer lack of form, Nasri is leading the list of potential departures.
But which manager and club would take the risk? City would be unwilling to make much of a loss on the £24 million he cost them two years ago. Another factor, like so many others, would be his wage. He earns a reported £185,000 per week, which for most clubs would make him by far the highest earner. Would Nasri be willing to take a pay cut to leave? His argument could be, that similar to other players, he has two years remaining on his contract and intends to see it out.
This same story could well be repeated over and over throughout the City squad. Carlos Tevez has been awarded as many headlines for ill-discipline and off-field actions than he has for his football. He famously refused to appear as a substitute last season, and didnt play again for the club until many months later. Despite playing more regularly this season, he has struggled for form and for contributions towards the teams goal tally. He earns around £200,000 per week, limiting his options of a new club drastically without having his salary cut.
These issues have troubled City before. It took the club over a year to negotiate former striker Emmanuel Adebayor a deal away from the club, as no other club were willing to pay his £170,000 contract. Wayne Bridge, who has spent most of his City career playing golf, is still under contract and being paid by Manchester City, despite not appearing for the team since early 2011. Again, his large salary has made other teams unable to afford him.
It’s vital for City to resolve the issues with players and move them on, so they can re-build the squad ahead of next season. It’s hard to see an end to the situation, with the club’s huge financial resources widely accepted. A balance must be found between improving the squad but monitoring increasing wage bills.