He brought 13 defenders in four years at a whopping cost of £ 325million.
Since Jurgen Klopp has been Liverpool boss, he has only signed four defenders in total for a total of £ 90.5million and more than half of that is just one of them.
During the same amount of time, Guardiola has recruited defenders who could complete a full starting XI and then some. It is a constant debate over whether City have managed to get real value for the money spent.
They would only have to look at Liverpool to see what such success looks like.
Virgil van Dijk arrived from Southampton in January 2018 and has become a key part of a new trophy-laden era that now includes the Premier League.
Much has been said about the purchase of Van Dijk, but despite the huge costs it was a valuable investment. Andy Robertson – signed from Hull relegated at a bargain price the previous summer – completed the third most assists in the league this season.
Nathan Ake also suffered a relegation with Bournemouth this quarter before coming close to a move to Manchester City, but it is not clear whether he can replicate the Scottish captain’s success.
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Ake could become the 14th defensive player bought during the Guardiola era from the Etihad and bring the total spent on those rookies even more to £ 365.44million.
The others are:
- Zinchenko (LB) – 1,8 M £
- John Stones (CB) – 50,04 M £
- Pablo Mari (CB) – 180 K
- Kyle Walker (RB) – 47,43 millions de livres sterling
- Danilo (RB) – £ 27million
- Benjamin Mendy (LB) – £ 51.75million
- Amyeric Laporte (CB) – 58,5 M £
- Phillipe Sander (CB) – 2,25 M £
- Itakura (CB) – 990 K £
- Angelino (LB) – £ 10.8million
- Cancelo (RB) – £ 58.5 million
- Pedro Porro (RB) – £ 10.8million
- Yan Couto (RB) 5,4 M £
Of those, four haven’t even made a single appearance for City, with Mari going on loan a day after signing before joining Flamengo permanently and then signing for Arsenal this year.
Danilo has also left the club since, moving to Serie A champions Juventus, although Man City at least made a profit when he left.
Porro, Sandler, Angelino and Itakura were all on loan in the recent Premier League season. It still seems to be decided where their future lies.
More than half of these players are full-backs and although Zinchenko has played as an attacking midfielder before, he has established himself in defense and has often been chosen before other acquisitions that cost more than him.
John Stones should be allowed to leave with Ake joining and could recoup half of the Bournemouth player’s fees, but question marks remain as to whether Pep can afford to let him go. What if Aymeric Laporte was injured again?
Eric Garcia turned out to be an anomaly in Guardiola’s spending – the former Barcelona prospect was signed for less than £ 2million and impressed – but there is no denying that Liverpool have been concise, calculated and restricted on the defensive market.
- Ragnar Klavan (CB) – 4,5 m
- Joel Matip (CB) – Free
- Andy Robertson (LB) – £ 8.1million
- Virgil van Dijk (CB) – £ 76.19 M
- Sepp van den Berg (CB) – £ 1.71 million
Only Klavan has left the club while Matip, Robertson and Van Dijk are regulars in the starting lineup. The fact that the Cameroonian was brought on a free transfer also looks more and more like a coup with every medal placed around his neck.
There’s also the emergence of Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold whose careers grew under Klopp. By Manchester City standards he has saved himself over £ 100million with the emergence of a world-class right-back.
Neco Williams – another academy talent – is heading to the first team under Klopp while Ki-Jana Hoever has initially joined the youngsters for pay.
The acquisition of Sepp van den Berg was a buy-in for the future and costs could amount to £ 4.4million if certain covenants are met. He might even have a chance to break through next season following Dejan Lovren’s exit at Zenit St Petersburg.
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The list does not include Klopp’s strangest defensive signing – Steven Caulker – who has been loaned out as QPR’s emergency replacement. Klopp didn’t make the move permanent after experiencing throwing England off as a substitute striker in times of need.
The German sold £ 36.25million worth of defenders to access the talent pool he now has, including a respectable £ 26million for Mamadou Sakho. Pep, on the other hand, oversaw his team’s £ 19.8million defensive sales.
As both teams take a short break before preparing to win the English League top prize again, Klopp and Liverpool are experiencing their best starting defense.
But Guardiola cannot determine which of his dozen defenders should be first in the pecking order.
Will Ake be Laporte’s main partner? Will he be transformed into another full-back? Will he have to fight a player six years younger than him for a starting spot?
The Manchester City manager appears to be running out of answers but will continue to pour money on the issue.