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How many Premier League titles can Manchester City buy?
It’s already been proven the Citizens can spring up and win a league title, having done so under Roberto Mancini in 2012 and also Manuel Pellegrini in 2014. So instead, one begins to wonder how much silverware the club can compile in return for the mountains of gold spent on player signatures.
The most notable transfer thus far this window returned is Benjamin Mendy, who became the most expensive defender of all time when the left back completed his $68 million move to Manchester in July. The 23-year-old not only arrived as one of the premier talents out of Ligue 1, but just as importantly, he fills in the controlled leaks of two 31-year-old left backs in Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy.
“Manchester City did not invest in the fullbacks for the last six, seven years, and … we decide that you have to make the squad younger,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said last week in Los Angeles. He also referenced the club parting ways with right backs Bacary Sagna, 34, and Pablo Zabaleta, 32, as he justified the club’s spending prior to a preseason training session.
For Guardiola, the born-on date appears to be far more important than the price of the produce when shopping in the market. Over the current summer, Guardiola has rejuvenated his squad with new arrivals like Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Douglas Luiz, Danilo, and Kyle Walker. Only the latter two are older than 23.
“Of course, we are judged in terms, ‘if we won titles or don’t,’ so in that terms [sic] we was [sic] not good,” Guardiola said, referring to the transition from last season’s third-place finish to the start of this season. “But we did very, very good things. We changed players.”
Over the first 12 months of the Spaniard’s tenure in England, the focus in the transfer market has furthered an ambitious vision of assembling and developing young world-class talent to try and create a potential dynasty for the Abu Dhabi-owned club.
When Guardiola arrived last season, he immediately got to work by focusing on younger members of City’s core like Raheem Sterling and also by bringing in players like Leroy Sane, John Stones and Gabriel Jesus. Sterling, Sane and Jesus combined electrically in the Citizens’ attack, and Stones served as City’s most consistent center-half in his first season at the Etihad.
That attacking trio will start the 2017-18 season at an average age of 21 years, with Sterling as the old man at age 22 and Jesus as the youngster at age 19. Stones, meanwhile, is only 23 and will likely play a central role for England at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
While the level of talent may be enough to win the league this season, Guardiola isn’t building his Manchester City squad to do so as much as he’s building his team to compete for the next five Premier League titles and reach the pinnacle of Europe over that time. At the least, his transfer policy will directly ensure that the Sky Blues will be flying at or near the top of England for the next half decade, while also ensuring that Man City will be a clear contender in the Champions League for years to come.
Of course, veterans like Yaya Toure, David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero remain vital components of the squad, and Guardiola openly stated that he had wanted to bring in veteran Dani Alves into the team before the Brazilian chose Paris Saint-Germain instead. Even with the mix of experienced players, however, the Spaniard is clearly building a side that is decidedly dependent on its youth.
“We don’t change for the short period,” Guardiola said. “Bernardo Silva is 23, 24 years old. Ederson is 23, 24 years old. So, all the players, the average is so, so young. So, it’s for the next five or six or seven years.”
In fact, Bernardo Silva is only 22 and cost roughly $53 million, while Ederson is 23 and cost $45 million. Even Guardiola seems to think his players are older than they actually are because the talent on display makes it easy to forget he’s essentially fielding a team of kids that are still filling out their adult bodies.
In the 13 months since Guardiola took charge, Manchester City has spent £385 million in transfer fees, which converts to $503 million. Yes, Guardiola’s Manchester City has spent half a billion dollars in transfer fees to solidify the future of the club. The current investment, clearly, serves a longer-term vision that could make Manchester City one of the truly great dynasties in the modern history of the sport — only if the plan works, of course.
“They are really good players, good enough,” Guardiola laughed, as he answered a question about whether he planned on being around to manage the core he is assembling for the long haul.
Confident in the investment, the Spaniard surmised, “It doesn’t matter who the manager will be.”
Shahan Ahmed is a soccer columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow Shahan on Twitter: @ShahanLA
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