Manchester City could become the first Premier League club to break the £100 million barrier in the current transfer window if they can tie up deals for Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Marlos Moreno.
According to Paul Hirst of the Times, City’s focus is on finalising the trio of signings when they return from their pre-season tour of China later this week.
Guardiola summer spending set to pass £100million mark as MCFC close in on deals for Sané, Moreno & Gabriel Jesus— Paul Hirst (@hirstclass) July 26, 2016
Sporting director Txiki Begiristain travelled with the squad to Beijing and Shenzhen, and his attention will now turn to ensuring Pep Guardiola’s squad is suitably strengthened.
City have already spent £36.5 million on Ilkay Gundogan, Nolito and Oleksandr Zinchenko—but a feeling persists that the squad Guardiola has inherited remains in need of improvements.
City agreed personal terms with Schalke winger Sane last week, but as of yet, the two clubs have been unable to settle on a fee. City value the 20-year-old at around £35 million—but the German side are holding out for £41.5 million. It’s likely, though, an agreement will eventually be reached, with the player thought to be keen on the move.
A deal for Jesus also looks to be well advanced. His agent, Cristiano Soames, said earlier this week: “I can say that we are defining certain contractual aspects. We’re negotiating these. We are very advanced with Manchester City. We’ll see.”
Jesus, 19, is one of Brazil’s most highly rated young players. A host of European clubs have chased his signature, but City appear to have forced their way to the front of the queue to sign the player for £26.5 million.
Colombian winger Moreno, who plays for Atletico Nacional, will cost around £8.23 million, with his signing expected to be confirmed after he takes part in the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final on Thursday.
And if City can add John Stones, their top defensive target, to their ranks, it would likely take their spending to the £150 million mark. According to Phil Kirkbride of the Liverpool Echo, Stones has informed Everton officials of his desire to join City and work with Guardiola.
The Merseysiders are thought to be unwilling to hold on to the 21-year-old against his will for a second consecutive season but will hold out for the best financial package possible before allowing him to move down the M62. That deal remains in the offing.
Here, we take a look at the three players City hope to have signed in the coming days and discuss where and how they fit into the club’s immediate and future plans.
Of the three City targets, Sane is the most high profile.
"Sane is a huge talent," said Guardiola back in November, as reported by Goal, before his Bayern Munich side took on Schalke. "I can only congratulate Germany to have a talent like him."
The winger is a player the club feel can have an immediate impact. He may only be 20, but he is a German international who has impressed since breaking into the Schalke first team back in 2014.
He will bring two vital assets: pace and versatility.
Sane is blisteringly quick and capable of playing from a wide position or more centrally. He is likely to challenge for a spot on the right in either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 system. He’s ideally suited to both.
He isn’t a finished product, and City fans will perhaps need to show patience should he finalise his move, but Guardiola has watched him at close quarters and clearly feels he has the quality City need to reassert their dominance in the Premier League.
Jesus Navas impressed with his consistency last season, but having turned 30, City need to be looking at alternatives.
Navas is a reliable option who brings both defensive solidity and pace to the right side, and he is likely to remain an important squad player this season. However, Sane will be seen as a step up.
He can offer far more in an attacking sense. Where Navas' style can be two-dimensional, Sane has shown signs that he can be much more than just an out-and-out winger, with the ability to come inside and join attacks in a more varied way.
Brazilian forward Jesus is likely to be deemed a "development player" when he joins City—a young star with huge potential but one whose progress will be continued away from the first team for the time being. A loan move back to Palmeiras is likely to be part of the agreement to bring Jesus to the Etihad Stadium.
It’s the latest example of City's two-tiered transfer system. Whereas Sane is first-team ready, Jesus needs further development before being considered for regular Premier League and Champions League football.
Jesus is a player with huge potential. He won the Best Newcomer Award in the Brazilian league in 2015 and continues to prove adept at scoring goals against top-flight teams, scoring 13 goals in 26 games in 2016. Given his age, it’s a superb record that underlines his talent.
His technique is excellent, he is quick and he can play in a variety of attacking roles, either in support of a main striker or as the focal point himself.
Brazil legend Ronaldo, perhaps the finest out-and-out striker the five-time World Cup winners have ever produced, is a fan. "I’m betting on two talents, they’re still developing but have a lot of quality," he said per the Sun. "Gabriel Barbosa of Santos and Gabriel Jesus of Palmeiras are very young talents."
Once his loan move back to his current club is complete, City will expect him to be challenging for a first-team place.
Moreno, another winger-cum-forward, is also likely to be categorised as a "development player," with a loan move to a second-tier Spanish club his likely destination should he finalise his move to City.
It’s probably the best way to handle Moreno. Reports from Colombia insist he is a young player with outstanding attributes—pace and power chief among them—but he will need time to settle into European football and prepare himself for life in the City squad.
It’s never been harder to break into the City side. Very often you have to dislodge a world-class operator. Many young talents have tried and failed to make the grade in recent seasons.
Moreno will be watched closely by the club’s technical staff during his loan spell—and if he can show them he is making progress, he will be brought back to the City Football Academy and given the chance to train with the first team.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and follows the club from a Manchester base. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @RobPollard_.