It’s a true wonder that France were able to score enough any goals en route to winning the 2018 World Cup, given how defensively Didier Deschamps set up his team in Russia, and given how defensively Les Bleus continue to be deployed after conquering the world this summer.
Three defensive midfielders is a setup that few defense in the world require to protect them, let alone a unit which features the likes of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti. But, there we were, and here we are. Deschamps went with the familiar formula in Thursday’s Nations League-opening game against Germany, and the result was a scoreless stalemate that saw the reigning world champions hold just 40 percent of possession and fail to produce a chance that truly threatened Manuel Neuer with anything more than speculative efforts from long range.
Real Madrid fans were understandably a bit fearful of life after Cristiano Ronaldo, but perhaps they shouldn’t be as the Portuguese superstar’s departure has apparently given way to the year of Gareth Bale. The Welsh dynamo already has three goals in as many games for Madrid, and on Thursday the 29-year-old ran the entire show during Wales’ 4-1 victory over Ireland.
He had a goal and an assist, but it could have been so much more with a bit more fortune in his favor. Still, Ryan Giggs‘ side was comprehensive in its dominance and should find their way to a first-place finish in League B – Group 4 (Denmark is the other nation in the three-team group). Tom Lawrence, Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts were the other goalscorers for the Dragons.
Czech Republic 1-2 Ukraine
Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko scored the 92nd-minute winner in Ukraine’s 2-1 victory away to the Czech Republic, completing a comeback from 1-0 down after just four minutes. Patrick Schick put the home side ahead early, but Yevhen Konoplyanka drew the visitors level immediately after the halftime intermission.
Will the new pieces help Man City keep hold of the Premier League and chase down the final jewel in its infinity gauntlet, the Champions League title?
And who will City chase in the future as a few positions look in need of a refresh under Pep Guardiola, especially now that Cancelo’s surprise loan to Bayern Munich has raised question about the star’s future in sky blue.
Below we roundup the latest done deals, reports and rumors and give our analysis on Manchester City transfer news as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) will guide you through a hectic next few months.
Manchester City transfer news, rumors today, live!
March 23 – Man City to rejoin chase for Florian Wirtz
Bayer Leverkusen phenom Florian Wirtz is wanted by any of number of teams now that he’s healed from a serious knee injury.
Man City’s in the fight for Wirtz’s services, according to 90min, where it will jostle with Barcelona, Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund amongst others.
Wirtz, 19, has a contract with Leverkusen through the 2026-27 season and his fee will be astronomical should he continue to show his injury hasn’t changed much about him.
The teenager returned to Leverkusen’s lineup in late January and has four assists in Bundesliga play but was a thorn in the side of Monaco and Ferencvaros in the Europa League. He scored twice with two assists in four legs between the two opponents.
Wirtz was electric as a 17-year-old regular in 2020-21, but really found his footing last season. Wirtz posted 10 goals and 14 assists in 31 games across all competitions in 2021-22 but suffered an ACL injury in late March.(NM)
March 20 – Newcastle’s Bruno Guimaraes eyed by Guardiola
It takes very little time watching Newcastle United to see that Bruno Guimaraes is the straw that stirs the midfield drink for Eddie Howe.
And it isn’t often that Pep Guardiola is linked with a big-money buy these days that doesn’t at least have a strong helping of truth in it.
Bruno running Man City’s midfield just kinda makes sense, as much as it might drive Newcastle insane to consider Guimaraes lining up with Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Phil Foden and Company.
City has already signed a midfielder of the future in Maximo Perrone, and the club has been slowly bringing along Cole Palmer, but Guimaraes is — as some would say — different gravy.
A report says Guimaraes would be a target and Guardiola could overhaul City by selling Aymeric Laporte and Bernardo Silva in addition to letting Ilkay Gundogan walk. Silva and Gundogan have been linked with Barcelona, while Lavia’s future — as detailed below — is still in City’s hands.
Is there smoke here? It certainly sounds logical enough, especially if Newcastle doesn’t land a place in the Champions League. But Newcastle’s rise has been special for the players in the fold, and Guimaraes may love the idea of continuing down the road of becoming a club legend. (NM)
March 11 – Southampton’s Lavia in demand but City holds buyback key
Romeo Lavia has impressed in a massive way since leaving Manchester City for Southampton last summer, reportedly sending tongues wagging at Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United.
That said, this all probably hinges on whether Southampton stays up, because Lavia is still growing as a player and the PL minutes at St. Mary’s have done him well.
City’s not stopping restocking whether from within or without, as Maximo Perrone fits a similar profile to Lavia and was brought into the fold this January. Lavia’s proven an aggressive tackler and defender but City would likely be buying back a player to block him from other suitors. (NM)
March 1 – Pep Guardiola eyes cut-rate deal for Mateo Kovacic
Chelsea wrecking ball Mateo Kovacic will enter the final 12 months of his contract this summer, and multiple reports say City wants to bring the Croatian midfielder aboard.
If Kovacic, 28, is unwilling to sign a new deal or is just antsy to leave a project that seems destined to miss out on the UEFA Champions League, Pep Guardiola would certainly see a usable piece.
The former Dinamo Zagreb, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid player has 91 caps for Croatia and is an elite ball mover in the midfield. His expected assists and shot-creating actions are also impressive, and you can imagine his actual assists would be higher on a normal year of finishing for Chelsea.
This makes sense for Man City, but what about Chelsea? Normally you wouldn’t see the Blues selling anyone to a rival, especially one set for centurion status at Croatia and still in his prime, but given the money Chelsea’s spent under new boss Todd Boehly… maybe this helps balance the books a bit.
But selling Jorginho and Kovacic in the same six-month span? Wild. (NM)
February 19 – Man City looks to USMNT’s Antonee Robinson
Could Fulham’s Antonee Robinson be on the move to a European club even if Fulham do not quality for the Europa League?
Robinson, 25, nearly moved to AC Milan in the January window two seasons ago but a since-resolved heart issue scuppered the move at the 23rd hour.
Would he leap at the chance to go to Europe despite a great relationship with club captain and fellow USMNT back Tim Ream? Robinson is about to hit his prime if he isn’t in it already, and the Everton alum might have eyes for the opportunity (NM).
Manchester City confirmed transfers & signings – January 2023 window
Maximo Perrone – Velez Sarsfield ($10 million)
Joao Cancelo – Bayern Munich (loan with $76 million buy option)
Manchester City archived transfer news, January 2023
January 31 – Joao Cancelo seals Munich move
What a wild move, as Pep Guardiola sanctions the loan of Joao Cancelo to Bayern Munich with the option to buy in the summer.
Pep will be riding with Rico Lewis, Nathan Ake, Sergio Gomez, and Kyle Walker at fullback for the remainder of the season unless he makes an addition today.
🗣️ "Bayern are a great club, one of the best in the world, and it’s enormous motivation for me to now play alongside these extraordinary players. I know that this club lives for titles and wins titles every year. I’m also driven by the hunger for success."#MiaSanMia#ServusJoãopic.twitter.com/Dsw2P1aNO2
January 30 – Joao Cancelo to join Bayern Munich on loan-to-buy
Joao Cancelo has only fallen out of favor with Pep Guardiola in recent weeks, but the Portuguese left back is set to depart Manchester City for Bayern Munich. Cancelo’s move to the 10-time Bundesliga champions will be a loan initially, with a $76-million option to buy in the summer. (AE)
January 23 – Man City seals Maximo Perrone deal
Man City transfer rumors have had a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” feel over the past few windows, so it’s no surprise to see Maximo Perrone quickly going from reported target to Man City player.
We reported last week that his reported release clause would be triggered by Man City but there was some question whether Velez Sarsfield would find a way to stand in the way of his move.
The 20-year-old has signed a five-and-a-half year deal with City.
Perrone is a fine reader of the game who is also not afraid of a tackle. An excellent dribbler and play driver, Perrone should learn plenty from both Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne (amongst others). (NM)
We’re delighted to have completed the signing of Máximo Perrone from Vélez Sarsfield. The midfielder will join us after the U-20 South American Championship.
Velez boss Sergio Rapisarda is less than pleased with City, however. What will he do if Perrone’s reported meager $9 million release clause is triggered by City?
The youngster’s played almost 2,500 minutes this season and is coached at the U-20 level by longtime Pep pal Javier Mascherano. If two of Barcelona’s best see you as a good prospect, well, connect those dots without much reservation.
“The boy, he wants to go,” Rapisarda said. “The City coach called him three times. Mascherano also persuaded him, which I don’t like. The boy loves the coach of that club. We are going to take the risk. We are trying to be the best in the transfer and with numbers that favour Velez.
Perrone, who just celebrated his birthday earlier this month, has also been linked with Newcastle United amongst several other sides, but the center midfielder and Argentina U-20 debutant fits well with Guardiola. (NM)
Raheem Sterling – Chelsea ($56.3 million)
Gabriel Jesus – Arsenal ($54.7 million)
Oleksandr Zinchenko – Arsenal ($35.9 million)
Gavin Bazunu – Southampton ($14.75 million)
Romeo Lavia – Southampton ($14.4 million, plus $3.6 million possible add-ons)
Fernandinho (end of contract)
Taylor Harwood-Bellis – Burnley (loan)
CJ Egan-Riley – Burnley (free agent)
Manchester City archived transfer news, Summer 2022
August 30 – Man City in talks to sign Dortmund center back Manuel Akanji
Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones is a pretty good one-two-three at center back, but all three players, alongside Kyle Walker who frequently moonlights at the position, have a lengthy history of short- to medium-term injuries that often leave Pep Guardiola with only one (or zero) options in central defense. As such, it appears Guardiola has requested additional cover, with new reports claiming Man City are working towards bringing Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji to Etihad Stadium. The 27-year-old is in the final year of his contract, which means he’ll come at a bargain price ($15-20 million). A player with ample UEFA Champions League experience and a few prime years remaining in his career, Akanji seems like the perfect fit for Man City’s very specific need. (AE)
Aug. 16 – City gets its (young) man
The left back below is going to City, as Man City announced the capture of Anderlecht’s Sergio Gomez on a four-year deal.
As expected, the Vincent Kompany connection was huge to the deal.
“It was a pride working with him from the first day. I used to watch Manchester City when I was younger and he was the captain of the team. He was a role model for everybody. To me, it was an honour working with him and I’m very grateful to him for everything that happened last season at Anderlecht.
“I spoke to him a few days ago. I told him about an option to move to Manchester City and he told me he was very happy for me. He said he was proud of me for this big step in my career.”
Gomez, 21, will be with the first team, though it will likely take some time for Pep Guardiola to bed in the Spaniard. (NM)
July 22 – Oleksandr Zinchenko unveiled as newest Arsenal player
Following weeks of reports and speculation, and even confirmation from his former manager, Oleksandr Zinchenko is officially an Arsenal player. The Gunners announced the 25-year-old left back/midfielder’s arrival on Friday, with the Ukrainian international calling it “a boyhood dream come true.” (AE)
July 13 – Raheem Sterling signs for Chelsea
The England international has signed for Chelsea after a stellar seven seasons at Manchester City. Sterling will be the main man in attack for Thomas Tuchel and will give him them the clever runs and pace they need in attack. This is a massive upgrade for Chelsea and proves the ambition of their new owners, as Sterilng will excel in the 3-4-2-1 formation in one of the underneath roles, or even up top as the central striker. Sterling’s goodbye message to City was classy and the England star will always be remembered fondly by the City faithful. (JPW)
July 4 – Kalvin Phillips completes Man City move
England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips has switched his boyhood club Leeds for Manchester City, as the move costs an initial $54.7 million. Phillips is the long-term replacement for Fernandinho and will add steel, creativity and class to City’s engine room. This seems like a very good fit for Pep Guardiola and the transfer fee is pretty decent too. Perhaps that was impacted by Phillips having a rough 2021-22 season as he spent most of it out injured. Regardless of those struggles, the Yorkshire Pirlo has an incredible range of passing and he should slot in very nicely alongside Rodri to give City’s stable of wonderful attacking players plenty of license to roam free. Phillips, 26, is joining City in his prime and Guardiola will no doubt take his game to the next level. This is a very good deal for City and Phillips. (JPW)
July 1 – Man City add goalkeeper ahead of Steffen loan
USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen was expected to leave Manchester City on loan this season should the Citizens find a home for him.
The out-of-contract 29-year-old starred for Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga but saw the club relegated as he finished out his contract. (NM)
July 1 – Vincent Kompany’s Burnley signs two Man City backs
It comes as little to surprise to hear that new Burnley manager Vincent Kompany would look to Man City in a bid to boost the Clarets back to the Premier League.
City will send highly-rated center back Taylor Harwood-Bellis, 20, on a season-long loan to Turf Moor, while CJ Egan-Riley moves to the Clarets on a permanent deal.
England U-21 back Harwood-Bellis started double-digit games for Kompany’s Anderlecht last season and then went to Stoke City, where ran up almost 2,000 minutes in the Championship over a half-season. He’s played eight times for City, scoring a goal against Port Vale in the FA Cup.
Egan-Riley, 19, is also an England youth international and made three senior appearances for Man City last season.
June 24 – Arsenal, Man City agree transfer fee for Gabriel Jesus
Following the departures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in January and the summer, respectively, Arsenal appear to have filled their massive hole at striker with a 25-year-old (four-time) Premier League champion: Gabriel Jesus. Fabricio Romano reported on Friday that Arsenal and Manchester City have agreed a $55.3 million transfer fee for the Brazilian international. All that remains to be agreed are personal terms for a contract between Jesus and Arsenal. (AE)
June 23 – Goalkeeper moves involving Steffen, Stefan
German goalkeeper Stefan Ortega could become Manchester City’s No. 2 goalkeeper if Zack Steffen finds a transfer destination to his liking, according to Sky Sports.
Ortega, 29, has spent much of his career with Arminia Bielefeld, which was relegated to 2.Bundesliga this season.
Steffen, meanwhile, may want to pursue a No. 1 shirt this summer as Ederson is not likely to lose his at Man City any time soon and the USMNT backstop is locked in a battle with Matt Turner to start at the 2022 World Cup.
The 27-year-old American cost City around $7-8 million in 2019 when he made his second trip abroad. He was previously on the books at Freiburg and Columbus Crew, and starred on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf from City in the 2019-20 season (though Fortuna was relegated).
The journey continues, as Erling Haaland posts a photo of himself wearing a Man City shirt as a kid ahead of his move to City which will be completed on July 1. Previously City had agreed a fee with Borussia Dortmund for his signature and it is believed that personal terms with Haaland would not be a problem to negotiate. It appears that is all sorted now. Erling’s father, Alf-Inge, played for Man City and Haaland will follow in his dad’s footsteps in playing for the Premier League. However, this Haaland will spearhead City’s attack rather than mop up in midfield. (JPW)
The two European giants faced off in the 2020 final (in the summer of 2021) at Wembley Stadium in London, and it was the Italians who triumphed in the penalty shootout after playing to a 1-1 draw after regular time and extra time.
Italy and England are joined in Group C by Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta. The sides that finish 1st and 2nd in the group will qualify for next summer’s tournament in Germany.
Defenders – Kyle Walker (Manchester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Reece James (Chelsea), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)
Midfielders – Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea)
Forwards – Harry Kane (Tottenham), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Phil Foden (Manchester City), James Maddison (Leicester), Ivan Toney (Brentford)
Balogun, 21, has scored 17 goals in France’s top-flight for Reims this season as his loan spell from Arsenal has gone incredibly well and only Jonathan David and Kylian Mbappe have scored more goals than him in Ligue 1 so far in 2022-23.
USMNT interim head coach Anthony Hudson was asked about Balogun being nearby to the training base and was coy: “With Flo, all I’ll say is that there is open dialogue with him and his team, and that dialogue is continuing. That’s all I can say on that one.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Balogun could watch the USMNT play against El Salvador in Orlando on Monday as he continues his talks with U.S. Soccer and assesses his options.
Internationally he is eligible to play for the USA, England and Nigeria and he has represented England’s youth teams in recent years and has previously played for the USA at U18 level.
Balogun was expected to play for the Three Lions during this international break as he is England’s main goalscoring threat at U21 level (coach Lee Carsley explains that below) but he pulled out of their squad due to injury.
He may have used that unexpected window of opportunity to fly to Orlando to meet with U.S. Soccer reps to discuss his potential future with the USMNT. So, will he switch his international allegiance?
Arsenal teammate and USMNT’s starting goalkeeper Matt Turner had this to say when asked about Balogun.
“Yeah, he’d be a great addition to our national team. I think he’s done really well, obviously, for his club on loan, and we’ll see. The decision has to come from the heart, because it’s not necessarily an easy task always, to come and play in these CONCACAF games, and it’s a tough region at times. So for us, we’d be really grateful to have him, but his heart needs to be in it,” Turner said.
Balogun has spoken about this topic before as Pro Soccer Talk asked him about his international future in an interview at the start of last season.
We asked Balogun if other Arsenal academy graduates like Yunus Musah and Bukayo Saka being in similar situations has led to them discussing how they made their decision on which country to represent and if that would help him to decide who he plays for internationally.
“I haven’t spoken to any of them about the nationality situation,” Balogun said. “Even from just the way I’ve known them, it is not something they have put a lot of pressure on themselves about. I think it is a decision that comes naturally to them.
“I think I’m going to do the same and hopefully something will just come to me and then I will make a decision… I don’t want to put too much pressure on the situation. It is just something that will just come to me.”
Maybe that feeling will come to him while he is in Orlando area over the next few days.
1. Center forwards still needed, but is there anyone ready for the task? The Nos. 1, 2, and 3 non-Reyna-related question for Gregg Berhalter when the World Cup ended was why he chose his center forwards, how he used them, and why they didn’t score goals. Haji Wright was the only CF to score at the World Cup and that was the first center forward goal in six USMNT matches. Jesus Ferreira scored four the previous game, but that was against Grenada and the FC Dallas star has three more goals in his 15 other caps. And Timothy Weah, a danger up top when called upon but often a wide man, is injured and will miss the international break.
So where will interim coach Anthony Hudson turn against Grenada and El Salvador?
World Cup cut Ricardo Pepi is back and so is Daryl Dike.
Meet the candidates and their forms:
Pepi, 20, is on loan at Dutch side Groningen from Augsburg. He started off hot with Groningen and has nine goals, though he’s scoreless in his last three matches.
Dike, 22, is fit and firing for West Bromwich Albion, where he’s scored four times in his last five Championship appearances, all starts.
This is one of those “prove it” camps, with Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna among those helping to cue up chances for their center forwards. If you’re not gonna get the job done against Grenada and El Salvador, you’re missing the boat.
2. Who steps into the Tyler Adams role? Tyler Adams has unflinchingly been Leeds’ most consistent and steady player in a year of tumult, and he’s proven the same time and again in a USMNT shirt.
But he’s not here!
So there will be no “MMA” midfield of Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Adams. The first two pieces are here from Leeds and Valencia, but it’ll be a third piece to complete the trio. Luca de la Torre of Celta Vigo and Alan Sonora of Juarez have been called into camp and Johnny Cardoso is the most defense-minded of the bunch if the team is to go “like-for-like.” Cardoso, 21, is starting for Internacional in Brazil, who trails only Gremio on the Gaucho table.
3. What’s the state of mind? Look, the “youth soccer” and “extremely childish” incident has made for plenty of discussion online, but the U.S. group seemed plenty bonded after Giovanni Reyna’s World Cup camp incidents had happened but were yet to be exposed by Gregg Berhalter at a “private” speech.
So, in theory, Reyna will arrive back into a USMNT camp in need of consistent effort and good attitude but as a member of the fold. The problem may be that the fold thought it left the World Cup with Berhalter either returning as head coach or with a search being conducted for a new coach.
It turns out, it’s only mostly the latter; Berhalter remains a candidate for the U.S. job and has been in Europe to see his “former” players. His assistant, Anthony Hudson, remains in charge of the first team on an interim basis and who can really know how much input Berhalter may currently have on the group.
All of that said, the USMNT is better than both of its opponents, regardless of venues, and should look superior to them even without Adams and Weah. Should is still pretty conditional, so let’s see what statement comes out of these two games in the favorites role, because it’s going to be quite a while before the Yanks are a clear underdog again.
To add to this and following the release of the report: I understand Gregg Berhalter spoke to the #USMNT players after the Fulham vs Arsenal game yesterday. https://t.co/f6Xmhz78Ds