Alvaro Negredo, the Spanish striker who signed for Manchester City from Sevilla last summer, has left the Etihad and joined Valencia in a dramatic deadline-day move. The deal sees Negredo move initially on a season-long loan, with the La Liga side committed to making the deal permanent for £23.8 million next summer.
Valencia's official statement confirms that it's an obligation, not an option, to sign Negredo next summer. pic.twitter.com/QG7gIWzZ5Y— City Watch (@City_Watch) September 1, 2014
Negredo made a wonderful start to life as a City player last season, scoring 23 goals in his first 32 games, before an injury in a match at West Ham in January saw his form collapse. He went a run of 16 games without a goal at the end of the season and looked short of confidence.
Rumours began circulating that he and his family were unsettled and that a return to Spain was on the cards (via Martin Blackburn writing in The Sun). However, City boss Manuel Pellegrini said he wanted to keep the forward, as reported by Pete Oliver at the Daily Star, and reiterated recently that four strikers were needed to cope with the rigours of four competitions per the Press Association (via Eurosport).
Negredo himself tried to end the speculation earlier in the summer by telling the club's official website he wanted to stay (via BBC Sport), but the lure of a return to La Liga, where he excelled before his move to the Premier League, appears to have been too strong to resist.
From a purely business point of view, it’s a deal that makes a great deal of sense to City. As reported by The Telegraph at the time of his move, Negredo signed for just £16.4 million last summer, meaning they’ve managed to make a significant profit on a 29-year-old who appeared unsettled with life in England.
However, many City fans are concerned the club may find themselves short of attacking options having failed to line up a replacement for Negredo. City were reportedly interested in Radamel Falcao, but a deal never materialised (via BBC Sport), and City are left with just Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko as their strikers for this campaign.
And with Aguero and Jovetic’s injury problems last season still fresh in the minds of many, fears that City could find themselves short of goals have reverberated around social media platforms.
Good business blah blah blah. We've potentially lost about 20 goals this season.— Liam. (@mcfc_lw) September 1, 2014
Aguero missed much of the second half of last season with muscle injuries, and only scored three goals from February onwards, before looking unfit at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. He has looked sharp so far this term, but only a long period of full-match fitness will allay fears over his injury proneness.
Jovetic, too, appears to have put last season’s troubles behind him. He has enjoyed a full and positive preseason in the U.S., and he has featured in every league game so far this campaign. There were times last season when he looked incredibly brittle, though, and, much like Aguero, the doubters need more evidence he can remain fit before they are prepared to rest easy.
The flip-side is that the flexibility of City’s other attacking player means a replacement wasn’t absolutely necessary. David Silva, in particular, could benefit from this move, with more opportunities for him to play in the No. 10 role, with Jesus Navas or James Milner on the right and Samir Nasri on the left of a 4-2-3-1 system.
Indeed, Silva excelled in that role towards the end of last season, producing a string of Man of the Match performances as City won their second title in three seasons. He is by far City’s most creative and effective attacking player, and he is far-better utilised in an advanced central role just off the main striker.
Similarly, Yaya Toure can also play in a more advanced role, and with Fernando and Fernandinho able to combine on a more defensive midfield area, he could be freed to attack without any restrictions.
Clearly, without a replacement lined up, Pellegrini would not have sanctioned a move if he did not feel his attacking players had the flexibility to cover the loss of Negredo. However, if injuries to strikers or a lack of goals hamper the clubs title defence this season, Pellegrini and City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain will face tough questions.
Meanwhile, Matija Nastasic remains at City after failing to find a suitable move, a situation which many Blues fans will feel relieved about. Micah Richards has joined Fiorentina on a season-long loan deal with a view to a permanent transfer. Richards was City’s longest-serving player but found himself out of the first-team picture after two injury-affected seasons.
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_