As one of the greatest managers of all time at the helm of one of the richest clubs in the world, Pep Guardiola is not exactly used to disappointment in the transfer market.
Say what you will about Daniel Levy, but his refusal to let Harry Kane move to City last summer and the relentless quarrel it caused kept us all entertained for weeks – plus the fact that his £ 150 million man had to wait until a week before Christmas just scoring his second Premier League goal of the season is just a little fun.
As the locker room, formerly owned by Sergio Aguero, was still vacant on its way into the final weeks of this summer’s transfer window, rumors began to surface that Guardiola was preparing to instigate the kind of scary, outrageous story usually reserved Hollywood blockbusters.
United saves the day
Forget Sol Campbell for Arsenal, Ashley Cole for Chelsea or even Figo for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo, the lover from the red side of Manchester, the golden boy at Old Trafford, would have signed for Manchester United’s rivals across the city.
We clearly all know how the story ended when United moved in to save their hero from the clutches of the enemy. And yet, when the dust had settled and we looked back at the whole saga, it did not really make much sense.
Guardiola did almost the unthinkable at City by considering club legend Aguero a surplus to the requirements, simply scoring goals that were not enough to require a regular place in City manager’s start XI.
So why on earth should he buy Ronaldo? After all, it’s his job to score goals. Do not expect him to be able to fill a pint glass when he twists his shirt after a fight.
All sorts of theories were put together about why City were ever interested in buying Ronaldo, with some City fans even happy to tell their rivals that they had pretended to be interested in a player, simply because they knew United would not be able to resist bending. their traction and steals him under their nose.
You would be within your rights to suggest that such childish games do not belong in elite level football clubs, but you could also be very wrong.
The two Manchester clubs have been credited with a mutual interest in countless players over the last decade or so.
Ronaldo is just the latest in a long line of United ‘triumphs’ over their neighbors in the transfer market, with Robin van Persie, Fred, Alexis Sanchez and Harry Maguire just a few of the players belonging to such a category.
You’re probably worried now that the January transfer window is only a few days away and we have yet to find out which player the two clubs will be fighting for next month, right? Well, fear not.
City’s hunt for a striker has seen them regularly tipped with a switch to Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic, so of course United are now also after him.
A quick glance at the Serbian striker’s goal record will lead you to believe that there is every chance that it is a player that the two clubs really both want, but there are plenty of other factors to consider.
Vlahovic’s 37-goal move in 57 Serie A matches since the start of the 2020/21 campaign is absurd for such a youngster. However, 11 of the mentioned goals have come from the penalty spot.
Do not get me wrong, you still have to score them, but 26 goals in 57 games without these penalties may not be quite the kind of strike rate that suits one of the most coveted strikers in Europe.
Then there is Vlahovic’s build-up game. Throughout the 2020/21 season, the young pitcher mustered two assists in 40 games in all tournaments.
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When Guardiola was desperate for Aguero to have a bigger impact on his team’s game than just being the man who stood between the posts and put the ball in the net, his sudden ‘interest’ in Vlahovic may not be quite as it seems. .
Of course, there is also the point to consider that the 21-year-old’s only ever appearance in European competition at club level was in the Europa League’s second qualifying round in 2016/17 – Guardiola is the absolute don when it comes to developing players and helping them reach their full potential, but Vlahovic has a long way to go before competing at the very best level.
It would be wrong of us to suggest that Vlahovic is not a talented player – he obviously is – but so was Aguero, and he had to make some major changes to his game to fit into Guardiola’s regime.
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Fiorentina will no doubt generate a lot of money from the sale of the Serbian national team player, but whether it will be City who pick him up or not is still unknown.
Or Guardiola could have no interest in buying him at all and he could just entice United to make an overprice for him in January … would he not? Would he?
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