We’ve gotten used to seeing Manchester City making all sorts of bombastic transfer moves on the market during the summer transfer window. This year, City’s shopping was more or less unnoticed. They reacted very fast after the start of the transfer period, landing Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips, and after that staying quiet with the market heating up. 

Even with only two notable signings, City is still the top favorite for taking the title according to the Premier League picks. They and Liverpool have a certain edge over all other units, with the note that the Citizens’ prospects are better than the Reds’.

Now, why has Guardiola made only two signings so far? The answer lies in Man City’s system. They have a scheme built over the last few years, and there simply wasn’t the need for any major changes, but simply small adjustments and additions in order to upgrade the squad. 

The Two Moves

Man City sold Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal and Raheem Sterling to Chelsea, earning a solid amount of money, nearly €143 million. On the other side, Haaland costs €60 million and Phillips almost €50 million. 

Guardiola apparently shifted his focus from fast and quick players who are searching for depth and open space to Haaland, a robust striker, able to physically outplay the defenders and always make one extra space for teammates. 

Over the past few years, City was always in problems in moments when they needed to chase the result and face compact blocks ahead of the rival’s box. Sterling’s speed wasn’t needed in those situations, and with Haaland, it will be much easier to break such a defensive lock. That was especially obvious in the Champions League.

As for Phillips, he is the replacement for Fernandinho, who has 37 years and decided to get back to Brazil and play a season or two before retiring. Like the Brazilian who was a beast in his own way, the former Leeds defensive midfielder possesses incredible strength and a very, very refined feeling for the game. Phillips has 26 years, meaning that he is at the peak of his power, and his physicalities will also be very useful when breaking the rival’s defense.

So we see that even though the unit’s core stayed the same, the offensive approach will endure certain changes, which can impact the Premier League predictions too. 

Other targets Guardiola has on his radar, also indicate that there might be more changes. Marc Cucurella, Rayan Ait-Nouri, and Pau Torres are on the Spaniard’s shortlist. These three guys are defenders, and Pep’s desire to acquire them could mean that he prepares the team for the future.

Where the Problem Lies?

City’s back line is very good, but some players are getting older while others are just being very well scouted and exposed, which forces the manager to add fresh blood. 

Cucurella is a player who fits in with Guardiola’s desires perfectly. He has a magnificent technique and is an all-around defender who can also cover the defensive midfield position due to his creativity and skills. His compatriot Torres plays for Villarreal and comes off a fantastic two campaigns during which he became one of the best center-backs in Europe. The additional plus, in this case, is that they both come from Spain, which only makes things easier for settling in and adjusting to Guardiola’s philosophy of play. 

As for Ait-Nour, the young left-back is one of the most talented players in his position in England. Wolves would like to sell him, but only if the price is right, so we are going to see how things unfold here. 

Their arrival at Etihad isn’t a priority. They would be a stake for the time to come, not a solution that would immediately bring impact to the field. For the moment, that isn’t needed, because of the previously-mentioned system, which already gave excellent results. Guardiola upgraded it with Haaland and Phillips in order to reach the UEFA Champions League trophy, which is the main goal for the Citizens. Per Premier League predictions today, City should win the Premiership once again, but that isn’t the primary mission for this campaign.