Facing the music for a lack of striker depth ahead of Saturday’s tilt at Arsenal, Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini explained that he really couldn’t have kept Alvaro Negredo in town.
Negredo scored nine times in 32 Premier League appearances for Manchester City before leaving for Valencia last week. The strike rate was an entirely respectable haul for a player adjusting to a new league. Plus, he had been prolific for Sevilla before coming to England.
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Some said homesickness had him desiring a return to Spain, and Pellegrini acquiesced by sending the striker back to the Mestalla Stadium club on loan. After all, he was facing a spell on the sidelines due to a broken toe.
But no one else arrived in the transfer window, and now Pellegrini is down to Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero on Saturday thanks to an injury to Stevan Jovetic while on international break. But if you ask him, it’s not really down to his decision; The Financial Fair Play penalties imposed on City mandated he make a move.
Pellegrini said: “The decision for Álvaro Negredo to go was for two very important reasons. The first was that we have the restriction for the number of the players we can use in the Champions League. We had one player more, we could not use Álvaro, who was injured, so he was the player who was not going to be on the list.
“For him, it was very important because he wanted to go back to Spain, so I thought it was the best decision for the club. But it all starts from the restriction about the number of players. We have restrictions about the amount of players and the money we can spend.”
In addition to the reduced squad, City were also fined £49m and forced to limit their net summer spending to the same amount.
Pellegrini added: “It is difficult for me to understand the punishment because the club spent money – they wanted to grow, they finished a new training ground. They were a small team and wanted to be a big team but now we have that punishment, that sanction, and we have to play with these restrictions.”
So, it seems other clubs should rejoice at FFP in action. City would’ve loved to bring in more talent, but couldn’t spend. They would’ve liked to keep Negredo, but his roster spot was too valuable. The restrictions are hampering City.
It’s worth noting that Pellegrini’s opposition to FFP is more than a bit myopic. Sure, City has been ambitious and deserves credit for dropping loads of dough to try and become a power (many clubs certainly just stockpile their profits and never hint at debt). But their punishments come from breaking rules they knew about, not something unforeseen or unfairly tossed on the Etihad Stadium crew.