It’s been another summer of excellent recruitment at Manchester City. The lessons of their dire summer transfer window in 2012, where they failed to add to their title-winning squad, appear to have been learned, with the players recruited this summer capable of improving their domestic and European credentials.
One new name, though, is less illustrious than the others. Bruno Zuculini, who was signed for £1.5 million from Racing Club, may not yet be considered alongside the likes of Bacary Sagna or Fernando, but the 21-year-old is highly rated in his homeland, and many feel City got themselves a bargain for a defensive midfielder who scored 10 goals in 92 appearances in Argentina and made his debut aged just 16.
He impressed while on City’s preseason tour of the US, demonstrating the kind of quality and maturity that suggests he’s capable of a successful career in English football.
However, City’s midfield options are plentiful, with last season’s pairing of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho augmented by the signing for Fernando from Porto.
The Toure-Fernandinho axis was a revelation throughout the last campaign—vital in allowing City’s attacking instincts to flourish. The energy, tackling and range of passing the Brazilian brought gave Toure licence to attack, allowing him to score 20 goals, winning City’s Player of the Year award and enhancing his reputation as one of the finest midfielders in world football.
And all the early evidence suggests Fernando is set to add an extra dimension to City’s midfield options. His performance at Newcastle in City’s opening match of the season was outstanding, and he looks set to play a vital role.
He’s more of an out-and-out defensive player, meaning City can play a three-man midfield when necessary, but he also looks capable of rotating with Fernandinho and Toure regularly throughout the season as part of a midfield two. The burden placed on those two has been alleviated by Fernando’s arrival.
Add to the mix the presence of Frank Lampard, who has signed on loan for six months before he joins up with new York City, and Zuculini’s chances of regular football appear somewhat limited.
It’s a situation which has led to Manuel Pellegrini sanctioning a loan move for Zuculini who has joined Valencia, with City manager Manuel Pellegrini clearly feeling first-team football will benefit his new recruit.
It makes sense to send Zuculini on loan. Spanish football is technically superior to the Argentinian top flight and will allow him to develop his game further, and he will have a far better chance of getting first-team opportunities at Valencia than he currently does at City.
Zuculini’s job now is to maximise the experience and assert himself at Valencia. If he can force his way into their first XI and continue to improve, he could well come back to Manchester in a position to challenge for a squad place.
It's an opportunity to enhance his reputation and prove he has what it takes to come back and challenge City's midfielders for a place in the side.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2014-15 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard.