Man City may have to break ten-year transfer policy to find perfect squad if Gabriel Jesus joins Arsenal – Joe Bray

By the time the transfer window closes on September 1, Manchester City will hope to have one of the strongest squads they have ever fielded for a Premier League title challenge.

Erling Haaland looks guaranteed to score goals, while Julian Alvarez could be a shrewd back-up if he can adapt to European football in relatively quick time. There is talk of a defensive midfielder and a left-back arriving, and City have promised more incomings to strengthen other areas of the squad.

If four players arrive, though, that means some must leave to either recoup funds or keep the squad size at a competitive number. Too many players, especially in attacking positions, and there will start to be a handful of world-class forwards restricted to occasional substitute appearances. Even if City don’t want to lose the likes of Gabriel Jesus or Raheem Sterling, it might have to be a necessity.

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Others linked with exits are Aleks Zinchenko and Nathan Ake – two defenders already with limited game time which would be reduced further if a new left-back arrived. Both are likeable members of the squad, although City wouldn’t begrudge them the chance of playing regularly.

So if that decision is made, buyers will have to be found. City have a strong record of obtaining good transfer fees when selling players and this summer would be no different, especially if they don’t need to sell. It will be up to a buying club to persuade them it’s worth allowing an important squad member to leave.

It seems so far, then, that if City want an acceptable fee for one of those players, they may have to sell to a direct rival in the Premier League – something they’ve not done with a key player in at least a decade, if not longer.

When other first team regulars have left, City have been careful to sell to other clubs around Europe, who are only likely to play against each other in the Champions League, rather than help another side take league points off them. Leroy Sane joined Bayern Munich, Ferran Torres and Sergio Aguero joined Barcelona, ​​and going back a bit further, Edin Dzeko joined Roma.

That’s not to say City have not sold anyone to another Premier League club, because they have every summer. However these players have either never played for City (like Jack Harrison and Douglas Luiz), or they have joined a club lower down the division.

Maybe the last first-team quality player to join a comparable club was Emmanuel Adebayor, when he joined Spurs in 2012 permanently after a loan deal. Even then, he hadn’t been in City’s plans for a year. James Milner’s free transfer to Liverpool in 2015 could be an exception, although it was a move that suited all parties at the time, and Milner has arguably gone on to prove he was worth keeping more than City may have expected.

In general, though, City have cleverly avoided allowing good, title-winning players to join a top six rival. But if Gabriel Jesus joins Arsenal, or Sterling goes to Chelsea as has been reported, then the Blues may have to accept they are strengthening a side capable of stopping them next season – at least in the two head-to-head games against that club .

But with two attacking arrivals, and possibly a new left-back, that policy may have to be stood down for a year to rediscover a good balance in the squad, led by Haaland. Even if they risk seeing some current players actively working against them next year.

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