Man City have mastered the transfer window by making a profit while still strengthening with Haaland, Phillips

There’s no trophy for ‘winning the transfer window’, which might be just as well for clubs trying to catch up with Manchester City as the Premier League champions have already set a new standard for conducting business this summer.

While many of their rivals continue to struggle to negotiate in-and-out deals – Manchester United have only one deal to date and have raised just £10m from player departures – City have been able to secure the hottest property in world football (Erling Haaland) and an established one England midfielder (Kalvin Phillips) and still end up making a £26m profit on their transfer deals to date.

Raheem Sterling’s £47.5m move to Chelsea this week, which follows the £45m deal that saw Gabriel Jesus leave Etihad for Arsenal earlier this month, is the latest example of City is able to trade players in for a significant fee after they’ve already recruited a replacement without breaking the bank.

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Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have invested well in this window so far, but both have spent far more than they got back. The same goes for Chelsea and Arsenal. United, meanwhile, continue to struggle to show signs they have a coherent plan for rebuilding the Old Trafford squad.

However, City have now become so adept with their transfer deals, led by football director Txiki Begiristain, that they appear to have not only hit the sweet spot when it comes to signing players at the right time for reasonable fees, but also firing them in the perfect moment.

When City rose to prominence in 2008 after Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan took over the club, it was a distant dream for those destined to build a team capable of winning at the highest level. In those early days, City embarked on what then-CEO Garry Cook described as an “accelerated acquisition strategy” aimed at accelerating their rise to Champions League participation.

In their first full season in Abu Dhabi ownership, 2009-10, City spent £132m and raised £28m. The following year the gap was even bigger, with £165m taking in £36m. This pattern has continued over the past decade, with 2017-18 breaking club records when £285.7m was spent compared to £82.2m raised. This summer, however, is a different story and it’s one that will worry all of City’s rivals domestically and across Europe. In January this year, City reported record revenue of £569.8m for the 2020-21 season, topping neighbors United for the first time in an annual profit.

United are expected to retake the top spot in English club revenue this time around as football returns to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic, but City’s off-field growth has now turned them into a commercially serious one Made power they can no longer rely on the wealth of Sheikh Mansour to fund their ambitions. City rely heavily on wealthy support from sponsors and partners based in the United Arab Emirates, but while the bulk of their commercial revenue comes from the same region as Sheikh Mansour, none of these deals have been identified as breaking the Premier League and associated UEFA party order.

But as United have shown, huge revenues are no guarantee of success. It requires the presence of smart operators in key positions to ensure a club thrives in all areas and City are now reaping the benefits of having some of the world’s best in those areas.

City have arguably the best manager in the business in Pep Guardiola, while Begiristain and managing director Ferran Soriano have also made a name for themselves working together at Barcelona. Begiristain and Soriano, in turn, have developed a recruitment model that allows the club to identify the best talent and switch for them quickly and efficiently. And this summer is an example of how City’s recruitment model and Guardiola’s team work.

Haaland has been signed by Borussia Dortmund for just £51m as City triggered the striker’s release clause. They beat off rivals from Real Madrid to sign the 21-year-old, who could become the club’s center forward for the next 10 years. If so, that would collapse at £5.1million a year for one of the biggest stars of the next decade. The deal for 26-year-old Phillips is another example of a wise investment in a player who is yet to see his prime. By investing £14million in River Plates forward Julian Alvarez, 22, City have also embarked on a low-risk game for a player who is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in South America. They even found time to sign a new backup goalie by signing Stefan Ortega as a free agent.

City are still interested in Brighton & Hove Albion left-back Marc Cucurella, 23, but if they switch for the Spaniard they will likely have more money raised by then. Oleksandr Zinchenko is expected to move on as both Chelsea and Arsenal are interested in the Ukraine international. Nathan Ake, the Dutch defender, is another who has been linked with a move, although the latest reports suggest he could remain at Etihad for the upcoming season.

So far this summer, City have made £26million in profits in the transfer market. And while Sterling and Jesus deals have generated the bulk of incoming funds, City have somehow managed to raise £43.5million by giving up five players who have never appeared in the Premier League for Guardiola’s side. Gavin Bazunu (£15m, Southampton), Romeo Lavia (£12m, Southampton), Pedro Porro (£7.2m, Sporting CP), Darko Gyabi (£5m, Leeds United) and Kou Itakura (£4.3m, Dortmund) have all left City for significant fees this summer and it all adds up.

If Zinchenko and Ake also go through the Etihad exit door, City could make a profit of over £70m from their summer trade and they will have done so despite adding Haaland and Phillips to the squad.

If City continue to win on the pitch and grow their revenues from it, a win in the transfer market this summer will only make it better to beat their rivals for the best players and biggest trophies in the years to come. Man City have mastered the transfer window by making a profit while still strengthening with Haaland, Phillips

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