“I’m sorry Micah, we are going to have to let you go” said Manuel Pellegrini in his gravelly, Hispanic tones. When the news broke on Monday that Micah Richards was definitely leaving the Etihad, many a City fan will have been disappointed but perhaps not surprised, due to the lack of first team football the athletic full back has seen over the past 3 seasons.
Probably the biggest surprise for many of the whole story was the age of Richards, being only 26. Undoubtedly there would have been a few double takes at scrolling news dashboards around the country when the Englishman’s loan deal to Fiorentina was confirmed. Although no Samuel Eto’o, Richards does seem to have being playing for an eternity at City. A season long deal confirmed, with City receiving a £1 million loan fee, which seemingly is all the rage nowadays and has sneaked into football terminology over the last 12 months seamlessly, Richards was on his way. Bacary Sagna appears to have been drafted in from Arsenal to allow Richards the freedom to move, despite only recently being offered a new contract at City.
SAGNA’S HAIR IS SHOCKING
At such an age, all hope is not lost for Richards yet. At 26 years of age, many a footballing cliche refers to this as the ‘golden age’ for players ‘reaching their peak’. Regular football and regaining match fitness could and on previous potential should see Richards challenging Glen Johnson for the England right-back position. If it weren’t for Zabaleta’s arrival and some unfortunately timed injuries, Richards would have almost certainly taken up the mantle from Gary Neville a few seasons ago. Only 5 appearances last season gives an impression of how Richards’ career at City has stalled and the spell in Serie A, in a much slower and less competitive league could be a fantastic move for Micah.
Elsewhere, City have also allowed Alvaro Negredo to move, again on a season long loan, to Valencia. After only arriving at the Etihad last season for a bargain £20 million, The Beast penned an open letter to City fans on deadline day thanking them for their support. Negredo netted 23 goals in his debut season however, in the later stages of the championship winning campaign was blighted by injuries and struggled to find the net. With injuries to Aguero and Negredo from April on wards, Edin Dzeko took over as number one striker at City and fired them to a second title in two seasons.
JOVETIC- THE WORST HAIR CUT IN FOOTBALL HISTORY (Look up his Fiorentina days!)?
Perhaps one of the reasons Pellegrini decided against replacing Negredo is the emergence of Stevan Jovetic. The Montenegrin striker also arrived with Negredo in the Summer of 2013 although only managed a handful of appearances last season due to injury. A bright pre-season and a brace against Liverpool showed why City paid more for Jovetic than Negredo (reported £23 million from Fiorentina). City allegedly received inquiries for the 24 year old’s services this Summer and had a world class striker been available, perhaps they may have cashed in on the young forward. Rumours of Falcao arriving at the Etihad were misplaced, seeing the Colombian move to Old Trafford favoring money over success, therefore Jovetic looks set to excite Eastlands until January at least.
Another surprise, given the departure of Negredo, was the willingness to let Guidetti leave City again. The 20 year old Swede has been sent on loan to Celtic for the season, albeit with the agreement of the SFA, with the deal not yet sanctioned at the time of writing. After scoring 20 goals in 23 games in the Eredivisie for Feyenoord in 2012 and a fruitless loan in 2013/14 to Mark Hughes’ anti-football Stoke City, Guidetti has masses of potential but will not be seen in a blue shirt this season.
Earlier in the window, City have made some wise decisions in the market, particularly when trimming their squad due to the FFP sanctions imposed by UEFA. Hapless, yellow card collecting, slow motion midfielder Javi Garcia has been shipped out to Zenit St Petersburg for an eye watering £13 million and will soon be found walking around a plastic pitch in Siberia, shoulder barging mercenaries to the ground left, right and centre. Joleon Lescott, who appeared to be on a downward spiral, will be battling against relegation with West Bromwich Albion this season and Jack Rodwell will be suffering a similar fate at the Stadium of Light, sitting in the stand watching Sunderland every week after his inevitable injury crisis. Hopefully, Rodwell will be able to fill his potential after making some disparaging comments about young players joining the club.
Elsewhere, Gareth Barry has made last season’s loan move to Everton permanent and Pantilimon has also left for the Stadium of Light, being replaced by Fernando and Caballero respectively. A number of promising youngsters have also left City on loan this Summer, with Zuculini being shipped out to Valencia almost immediately after his arrival from Argentina, Rekik returning in PSV Eindhoven, Marcos Lopes going to Lille and Huws and Henshall going to Wigan and Ipswich. All of these moves should make City’s Loan Watch feature particularly interesting this season, with the addition of Negredo and Guidetti to that list.
All of the above, combined with City’s capture of cover in the centre of defence in Eliaquim Mangala for a staggering £32 million from FC Porto, looks for a promising season ahead. The squad is arguably much stronger than last season’s championship winning side, despite being shorter on numbers. Expect fierce competition from Chelsea, who have rectified their appalling strike force from last season with the removal of Torres and the capture of Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid. Arsenal won’t be bothering the top of the table until after Christmas, as Giroud is out with a broken leg, leaving them with Welbeck, Sanogo and Campbell; although they do have a potent squad consisting of about 400 attacking midfielders. It will probably be too soon for Manchester United to pose any threat to the Champions League places, again they have ignored their defensive inadequacies, much like Liverpool, due to the lure of the likes of Falcao and Balotelli. It looks like a promising season ahead for the Citizens.