After dominating the Premier League last season, Chelsea were the bookmakers’ favourite to retain their league title before the start of the season.
However, after four match days, Manchester City have placed themselves as overwhelming favourites to win the Premier League.
With 10 goals and 4 clean sheets in 4 matches, City sits comfortably at the top, 3 points above second-placed Crystal Palace, and a massive 8 points above Chelsea.
Even as City beat Chelsea 3-0 at the Etihad on matchday 2, they looked to strengthen themselves further, with the biggest transfer of the season, bolstering the squad with Kevin De Bruyne. Not only does this equip them further to win the league title, but it also improves their chances of doing well in Europe, something they have failed to do in the previous seasons. Let us take a look at how the transfer window played out for City, and how the newcomers will elevate their already high level.
After Samir Nasri started losing his form, and with the impending departure of Dzeko, Manchester City realised they needed a goal scorer on the left, a player with pace and skill, someone who could mirror Jesus Navas on the other side. 20-year-old Raheem Sterling was the player they identified.
Sterling had been playing at a fantastic level for Liverpool, with mature performances that defied his age. Him, along with Suarez, Gerrard and Coutinho, had mounted a serious title challenge that City just managed to overcome, just two seasons before. City themselves needed no reminder of how good the Englishman was, having been defeated twice at Anfield in the last two seasons. Sterling himself scored from a fantastic individual effort against City in 2014.
City identified their target quite early on, making a 30 million pound bid for Sterling as early as on 11 June which was rejected. A week later they returned with a 40 million bid that was rejected again, following which Sterling asked Brendan Rodgers to be left out of the pre-season squad. Finally a deal worth 49 million pounds was agreed by the two parties, and Sterling got the move he wanted.
Now, a month and half later, Sterling has managed to improve City, which has been showing in the results too. He has a goal and an assist and also has created problems for the opponents with his pace and trickery. Ivanovic was definitely given a torrid time in City’s 3-0 drubbing of Chelsea. Looks like City will reap the long-term benefits of buying the young winger, who is also homegrown.
Manchester City knew that they would need homegrown players to fill up the homegrown quota, and identified another such talented midfielder. 25-year-old Fabian Delph was signed from Aston Villa for around 8 million pounds.
With midfielder James Milner signing for Liverpool, City needed an option, and the talented winger was a good one. Although he suffered a long term injury 18 minutes into his City debut against Real Madrid in pre-season, Delph is a gifted midfielder who once fit, will come in handy for City.
Martin Demichelis, although a key player in the last two seasons, is 34 now, and with Nastasic leaving, City needed a tough centre-back, who could play alongside Vincent Kompany, and challenge Mangala for a regular position. Although a Manchester United target at first, Otamendi was lured away by City during the business end of the transfer window, and the Argentine looks like a good addition.
Born in Buenos Aires, Otamendi shared a passion for both football and boxing, which answers any question of whether he will be able to tough it out in the physical battles in the English game. After winning the league, domestic cup and Europa League with Porto in 2011, Otamendi signed for Valencia amidst interest from Chelsea, Barca and Milan. After playing on loan for Atletico Mineiro, Otamendi returned to Valencia, helping them secure a Champions League play-off spot.
Last season, he was the only Valencia player who made it to the La Liga Team of the Year. A 6 feet tall defender, he is quite comfortable with the ball at his feet, and commanding in the air. He can play in a number of positions, including right back and defensive midfield. At 27, Otamendi is at his prime, and will only improve playing beside the likes of Kompany, Zabaleta and Kolarov. If things go his way, he might be one of the best defenders of the league in the future.
Kevin De Bruyne
The most high profile transfer of the window happened when former Chelsea player Kevin De Bruyne signed for Manchester City from Wolfsburg for 55 million pounds. De Bruyne himself was eager to return to the Premier League, hoping to prove Mourinho wrong.
Kevin De Bruyne was sold by Chelsea to Wolfsburg in 2014 for 18 million pounds because Jose Mourinho felt De Bruyne had not adapted to the style of play required in the Premier League. However, following his transfer, De Bruyne established himself as one of the most valuable young players in the world.
Scoring some fabulous goals, De Bruyne notched up 13 league goals in 51 league appearances from midfield over the one and a half seasons. Last season proved to be a breakout the season, though, as he scored 16 goals in all competitions, along with 27 assists. He scored in the DFB-Pokal final in 2015, helping his team win 3-1 against Borussia Dortmund. He was subsequently named the Footballer of the Year in Germany.
Adept at scoring long range goals and providing assists from central midfield, De Bruyne would also give stiff competition to Jesus Navas on the right wing. City needed an all-action midfielder after the departure of James Milner, and to cover for Yaya Toure when he leaves for the AFCON next year, and they could not have gotten a better option.
De Bruyne’s signing places City as firm favourites for the league and the only positive thing for the current champions is that Chelsea received a 12 million pounds due to a sell-on clause with Wolfsburg.
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