Why Man City were happy to sell Zinchenko and Jesus to Arsenal, and would do it again
If we look at the basic facts that manchester city sold out gabriel jesus Y Oleksandr Zinchenko a Arsenal in the summer and that Arsenal now look great at the top of the Premier league while City are five points behind having played one more game, then it’s easy to say it was a mistake to sell them to the north Londoners.
These two transfers have been much talked about in recent months and would certainly become part of Premier League history if Arsenal win this season’s title, although it may never be mentioned again if City close out the gap and crowned champion. for the third consecutive year. It makes you think.
But yes, City sold two players to a direct rival for domestic honors and they have helped spark an unexpected title challenge at their new club.
So what should City have done instead?
This is where the ‘error’ element doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny.
It’s not an ideal situation for City by any means and, in fact, they’d probably be better off now if they’d kept Zinchenko, but there are legitimate factors to consider that could be more verbose and boring than just dismissing it all as a massive mistake, but hey did you subscribe to the athletic for a reason.
In short, if a Manchester City player asks to sign, the club’s response will be: ‘Thank you very much for your service. If you bring us a good offer, you can go.
That way, if a good deal doesn’t come through, all parties can sit down at the end of the summer and have an honest conversation. The player will know that the club did what he could to sell them and then he can focus on the next season.
This has happened many times over the years, when it became clear late last summer that no serious offers were made for Bernardo SilvaHe sat down with the coach Pep Guardiola, they hugged and said that he would continue to give everything for the club.
What would Bernardo’s reaction have been if City had actively blocked a dream move for Barcelona?
“If you force a person to stay when they don’t want to stay, how can you get the best of them? It’s impossible,” Guardiola said in August when first asked about his summer outings, which also included sterling rahim a chelseaanother rival for trophies at home and in Europe.
In October, with Arsenal looking good at the top of the league, he was asked again.
“What they gave us, they deserve to choose where they want to play. If they don’t want to go to Arsenal or Chelsea, they would stay here. But if (we made them) stay here, how could we say: ‘You can’t be there?’
“All the people they care about (is) their family. Who are we to say to his family, ‘You can’t go there?’ I do not like it.
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That makes it sound like too lenient an approach, one that might keep Guardiola on these players’ Christmas card lists, but could cost him a Premier League title (or two).
So the point some have made is that City should have flatly refused to sell a rival, although no one says that about Sterling and Chelsea because that move hasn’t gone as smoothly as the Arsenal deals. So, an obvious problem: how could anyone predict how these transfers would work and which ones to block?
Just judge the situation as it is at the time, and the most obvious point to make is that all three players wanted to leave.
Sterling had wanted out for quite some time and Jesus had his heart set on joining Arsenal long before last season ended. Zinchenko had always been important to City, but strangely he never really managed to establish himself as the top option for long periods of time and saw an opportunity to do so elsewhere.
Financially, all three deals were very good for City. Jesus and Sterling were approaching the final year of their contracts and the club managed to raise around £90 million ($111 million today) combined for the two. Why would they say no to that?
Zinchenko chipped in another £32 million (about $39 million), for a player who started just 10 Premier League games last season, played in five more and was an unused substitute in 17. That’s not to downplay his quality or attitude, both of which are beyond doubt and in fact, City could do with now Juan Cancelo struggling, but how could they argue for him to stay?
Calling out fans can backfire, but these Man City supporters felt Guardiola was right.
Jesus, like Zinchenko, was a huge part of City’s success and a very reliable squad option, but how would the Brazilian have fit into your team this season? With the entry of Erling HaalandHis days were numbered. That influenced his decision to go ahead, of course.
City could have pushed Jesus away from the Premier League if there were good offers on the table, but there weren’t.
Soccer clubs don’t usually make blind offers for players without talking to them first; continental European clubs would have known that Arsenal were Jesus’ first choice if they had reached out. Zinchenko received an offer from Everton but I didn’t want to go there. He also wanted Arsenal.
In any case, money was tight in Europe during the summer; Jesus would have been the fourth most expensive signing for clubs from France, Germany, Italy or Spain for the £45 million ($56.39 million) fee that landed him at the Emirates Stadium, only Aurelien Tchouameni (Monaco to Real Madrid), Mateo de Ligt (juventus to Bayern Munich) and raphinha (united leeds to Barcelona) cost more.
Zinchenko and Jesus were attractive to Arsenal because Arsenal could afford them and because manager Mikel Arteta knew them, having worked at City under Guardiola. It was not the same for the best foreign clubs.
Sterling is a good example of this.
There was a lot of talk about the interest of the Spanish giants or Paris Saint-Germain, but this was never on the cards. He would have been open to going back to the previous club. Liverpool, but that was not a good start either. Chelsea was his only option.
In a sense, City were lucky to have that offer on the table because Sterling was determined to go and they were only too happy to oblige. If Chelsea hadn’t made her move, there’s a good chance she’d still be there today, unhappy.. City are skilled transfer window operators, but they can’t conjure up big offers for their players out of thin air.
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There was a City mistake related to all this: when they sanctioned the signing of Zinchenko, they were very comfortable with the situation regarding the signing of a replacement. Actually, they had no idea. Brighton wanted so much money for Marco Cucurella — a fee they were never willing to pay. They should have realized that earlier, given all the talk, and that would have at least given them more time to look for an alternative (they ultimately decided there was no viable alternative on the market).
But even if they had delayed Zinchenko’s move and then found they couldn’t sign someone to take his place on the team, what would they do then? Deny him a move he was very interested in making, with no promise of a bigger role next season?
For Jesús, they already had two replacements in Haaland and fellow rookie Julian Alvarez.
It is tempting to think that Zinchenko and Jesus, given their highly professional attitudes and admirable responses to being left out of Guardiola’s team quite regularly during their time at City, would have put their grievances aside and carried on with their work this season.
It’s possible, but there’s also the possibility that keeping three (because you have to include Sterling) players who were denied dream moves would have only made the current situation worse.
Would it have been the same position if Liverpool wanted to buy them? City may have tried to put an end to that as soon as agents started talking about the possibility of a move to Anfield.
However, if those players had put their hearts into it, it would have been a very difficult position for City.
On the one hand, they could be strengthening established rivals, on the other, there’s all the above about the lack of alternative suitors and good money on offer for players who no longer wanted to be at the Etihad, two of whom will soon they could leave for free when their contracts expired.
Perhaps the strong feelings involved in that particular rivalry would have clouded the usual policies about letting players go where they want.
Again, this could all be redundant at the end of the season if City finish above Arsenal.
But even if Arsenal win this title and those two transfers are City’s mistakes, there’s nothing they should have done differently.
Apart from keeping Arteta…
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(Top photo: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)