Manchester City's summer transfer campaign ended relatively quietly—compared to some domestic rivals—on Monday as the window slammed shut. The reigning Premier League champions got their business taken care of pretty early on in the offseason, sealing a host of solid signings before the start of the new league season.
All in all, it's been a productive if a little low-key window for City.
The action got started in June as they agreed to sign former Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna on a free transfer. The experienced defender made his debut in Saturday's loss to Stoke City, playing the full 90 minutes. His solidity will help provide Pablo Zabaleta with much-needed rest over the long season.
While the 31-year-old Frenchman won't be the undisputed starter he was at the Emirates, he will certainly be a capable substitute as the warrior that is Zabaleta could run himself into the ground at times.
Micah Richards certainly could have filled that void, but an injury-hit last couple of years combined with Zabaleta's form all but pushed him out of his boyhood club. His deadline-day loan move to Fiorentina looks like the stepping stone to a full-time exit after his long-term stay in Manchester.
Skipper Vincent Kompany paid tribute to his departing team-mate and defensive companion on Twitter:
Kompany (@VincentKompany) September 1, 2014
It is unfortunate that Richards had to go, largely due to his standing within the club. He's been a mainstay for quite some time and had all the potential in the world—as evidenced by his becoming the youngest English defender to receive a senior cap for the Three Lions.
Luck just wasn't on his side.
Next in line entering the club came Porto's central midfielder Fernando Reges. After a saga that dated back to a failed move last January, the Brazilian was snapped up in June for a modest €15 million (£12 million), as the Mirror's Ed Malyon noted.
Fernando, like his compatriot Fernandinho, is a defensive-minded midfielder who will consistently put himself into tackles and win balls for his team. He picked up his nickname, "the Octopus," after one such performance against Manchester United, as noted by the Express' Richard Tanner.
His tough-tackling nature perfectly complements Yaya Toure's rampaging attacking tendencies. And for a pretty minimal fee for the quality, this was a shrewd signing under the auspices of Financial Fair Play.
Two summer departures at the same position freed up room for the Brazilian as Javi Garcia was sold to Zenit St. Petersburg, while Jack Rodwell moved to Sunderland.
The club's statement on the former's transfer noted that the Spaniard "endured a fragmented initiation to English football due to a troublesome thigh injury" after his move from Benfica. His lack of playing time and spotty form seemed to keep observers' opinions of him down throughout his two seasons at City.
But Garcia was a key figure in the title run-in last season, especially when Kompany was sent off in the away match at Hull last March. Garcia's defensive performance in that game was admirable, and his side went on to pick up three crucial points.
In the end, he didn't quite live up to his potential, borne from the nearly £16 million Roberto Mancini shelled out for him.
Rodwell's fate was similar in that his transfer fee—the Mirror put it at up to £15 million—set a lofty standard for a then 21-year-old midfielder. It didn't quite work out as injuries hit him hard, with his only two goals coming in a 3-2 loss to Norwich at the end of the 2012/13 season.
Two Argentines later came into the fold in the form of goalkeeper Willy Caballero and midfielder Bruno Zuculini. The latter, who has been loaned to Valencia, was plucked straight from Argentina by Pellegrini and was a massive revelation during City's pre-season tour of the United States.
Caballero, on the other hand, was snagged from Pellegrini's former club Malaga for a fairly modest £6 million. Former deputy Costel Pantilimon, who was decent enough in a string of starts midway through last season, signed with Sunderland.
Caballero brings plenty of top-level experience with him from Spain to England and should definitely get his fair share of playing time over City's long season.
City's most heralded signing of the summer came in August as Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala finally put an end to the months of speculation by joining City over the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United.
For a Premier League-record fee for a defender of £32 million, City ended up with one of the best defensive prospects in Europe. He's a powerful figure with a good passing record but is somewhat unproven at the highest level, with B/R's Sam Tighe describing the France international as "a raw prospect."
He saw no playing time in France's four games at the World Cup, but he should be slated for plenty of action over the course of the next eight months.
Also brought in was former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard. The former England international joined on loan after signing for City-owned New York City FC in July. His talent and wealth of experience will bring a nice boost to his side's midfield when required.
From there, things went pretty quiet for City outside of a loan for midfield starlet Marcos Lopes (to Lille) and a permanent deal for Emyr Huws (to Wigan). However, things changed quickly on deadline day.
Noted earlier was the departure of Micah Richards to Fiorentina. City's longest-serving player was pushed down the pecking order by injuries and the emergence of Pablo Zabaleta, and bringing in Bacary Sagna spelled the end for the Englishman.
Flying under the radar somewhat was Huws' switch to Wigan being made permanent. Former City player Uwe Rosler, now the Latics' manager, was enthralled with his newest signing:
Emyr has impressed everyone since arriving at the club, and we feel that he can have a major role to play in the future of the club.
Everybody can see what a very talented player Emyr is, and from the first training session with us leading through to the games he has played, he has been very good.
At just 20 years old he is already with the full Welsh national team and the chance to sign him on a long-term contract was too good an opportunity to turn down.
As Rosler said, Huws is a supremely talented player, but his opportunities to crack City's squad would have been limited. He deserved his move, which will help him reach his full potential.
Finally, the big move came late on as Alvaro Negredo joined Valencia. The deal is a one-year loan with, as noted by City, the Spanish club obligated to purchase the currently injured "Beast" at the end of the season. As noted by the Telegraph's Mark Ogden, the transaction will cost Los Che £23.8 million.
However, a shoulder injury in the winter saw him miss extended time and he never quite got his touch back. This led to him missing Spain's World Cup squad—as did former City and Sevilla mate Jesus Navas—but he looked set to return to form this season.
While City do bring in a handsome bit of money from this transaction to partially cover the massive fee spent on Mangala, they do lose a top-level player.
The 29-year-old bagged 23 goals before his injury, a sum that led the team at the time. Combine that with the injury-riddled pasts of Aguero and Jovetic and you wouldn't be faulted for questioning this move. Edin Dzeko is left as the only true "target man" in the squad.
However, as B/R's Rob Pollard noted, City's scheme doesn't necessitate having great striking depth. A 4-2-3-1 with a midfield trio of David Silva, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas allows for the use of a single striker while maintaining attacking abilities.
In the end, City brought in a host of players to fill in trouble areas on the pitch and did so while staying well within the Financial Fair Play restrictions. Players further down in the pecking order were shipped out to recoup some funds as necessary.
It looks like a second successful summer for Pellegrini. Hopefully for him, he can repeat his team's end result as well and defend their Premier League title.
How would you assess City's summer transfer activity? Feel free to comment below and drop me a line on Twitter.
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