Since the takeover by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, Manchester City’s transfer policy has been somewhat hit and miss. The signings of players like Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure have been tempered by deals for flops like Roque Santa Cruz, Wayne Bridge and Emmanuel Adebayor.
This summer, however, saw a change in approach. Players were signed on lower contracts than during previous years, and in most cases, the transfer fees were also reduced. One of those was Alvaro Negredo, signed from Sevilla for a fee of £16.4 million plus add-ons, via Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail Online.
He’s been an unequivocal success.
Negredo has seven league goals in 16 games, as well as five in six Champions League matches. Throw in his Capital One Cup goal away at Newcastle, and his total in all competitions stands at 13 already. It’s been a phenomenal start for a player who looks tailor-made for the English game.
It isn’t just his goals that have impressed so far. His all-around game has brought a new dimension to the way City attack. He is a constant thorn in the side of opposition, bullying defenders for 90 minutes with his strength and tenacity, always looking to provide opportunities for those around him. He’s created 16 chances for others this season, with four direct assists.
The weekend win at Fulham was the latest example of his brilliance.
Bent double on the turf at the end after another 90 minutes of constant running and hard work, he’d just provided the assist of the season—an outside-of-the-boot cross for James Milner to run on to and score from close range. Milner didn’t have to break stride, such was the precision of the pass, and City guaranteed themselves three vital points.
Comfortable with both feet and with a great first touch, Negredo’s vision and brain are his most impressive attributes. He seems to see things on the pitch before anyone else. The dummy at West Ham that allowed Aguero to score the opener, his turn and goal against Tottenham that left Michael Dawson strewn out on the Etihad pitch, the through ball against Wigan where he gave a defender "the eyes" before slipping Jesus Navas in to score. ... The list of brilliant Negredo moments continues to grow.
He’s brought a fresh impetus to City’s forward line. He is the perfect foil for Aguero, and City’s return to a two-man attack has been the catalyst for their 79 goals so far this season. The emphasis is on scoring, and Negredo is a key part of that.
If he can remain fit, City will have a good chance of securing their second league title in three years.
All statistics provided by Squawka.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.