This summer, in stark contrast to 2012, Manchester City conducted their transfer business early on in the transfer window, and with relative ease as well. Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo arrived from Sevilla, Fernandinho signed from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, and highly-sought after Stevan Jovetic joined from Italian side Fiorentina in deals totaling almost £90m. This is very different from the summer of 2012, when City left all their business until late in the window and sealed five signings on deadline day.
Some sections of the City support have been long-since satisfied that their club’s business is done for the window, but many still believed that a defender was needed to sort out City’s leaky defense, which had been evident in pre-season and in the first three games of the new Premier League season. Despite the highly-publicized pursuit of Real Madrid defender Pepe ultimately ending in failure, the Blues were not disheartened, sealing their fifth signing of the summer just hours before deadline day. This man was, of course, Martin Demichelis of Argentina.
The 32 year-old signed for Atletico Madrid in July, after being released from Malaga at the end of last season. At Malaga, Demichelis worked under his new manager at Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini, under whom he was named in the La Liga team of the year last season. This is no easy feat, even for a defender with the experience of this particular Argentinian International. Despite only being with Atletico for a matter of weeks, Los Rojiblancos asked for a staggering fee of around £4.6 million, which appeared to put off potential suitors.
It seems that Pellegrini was very keen on getting his man though, as the player who will be 33 in December completed his move to the Etihad after days of speculation. The general belief was that Demichelis would sign for the Manchester side, and since it’s been confirmed, it has generally been well-received by the supporters. The belief was widely-held that City needed a defender, and although many names were linked, Demichelis was one of the only signings consistently in the works.
There have been rumors going around that Demichelis will only be receiving £18k per week with City, and although that will be the case for two years, in the grand scheme of things it shouldn’t put too much of a dent in City’s extensively filled coffers. The low wage given also shows a change from the days of Mark Hughes, who gave high wages to most players who were willing to sign, such as Roque Santa Cruz.
Much of this summer has been dedicated to lowering the wage bill, with expensive players who never offered much to City departing the club and ones on much lower wage packets arriving to replace them. There’s talk that since January, £48m per year of City’s wage bill has been removed, and just £19m per annum back onto it, which is a decrease of almost £30m ahead of the new Financial Fair Play regulations.
Because Demichelis is aging, it could prove to be a better signing for City than a young player such as Mangala would have been, or an absolutely world-class central defender either. Matija Nastasic was a revelation for Manchester City last season and developed a lot after signing from Fiorentina on deadline day last summer (one of our only good purchases of that window). If he’s given an equal amount of playing time again this season, we’ll see a lot more development in the Serbian alongside Vincent Kompany. All a world-class central defender would do is take playing time away from the young Serbian, when he himself could easily become world-class.
Since his move to the Etihad has been confirmed, Demichelis has spoken about his excitement at the prospect of linking up with Manuel Pellegrini for the third time in his career, showing the two have a good relationship together. Not only did the pair work together successfully at La Rosaleda, but Pellegrini also managed Demichelis in his year at Argentine side River Plate in 2002-03 before the defender’s move to Bayern Munich.
There’s no doubting the pedigree of Demichelis. As I just mentioned, he has played for Bayern Munich, one of the world’s most successful clubs, and spent seven years with the German club. With Bayern, the Argentine won the Bundesliga four times, the DFB-Pokal four times (those successes all coming as German doubles in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2007-08 and 2009-10), along with a runners-up medal in the 2009-10 Champions League. This European experience is something that City have been badly lacking in their last two ventures into the competition, and could seriously aid them this season as they look to go as far as possible.
There may have been some criticism of Demichelis from some places, even from inside the City support, but I think the newest signing at the Etihad will prove the doubters wrong, even if he is only utilized as back-up to Kompany and Nastasic. He also came very cheap when prices such as £30m for Pepe and £40m for Mangala were being quoted, so I’m glad City have gone for the cheaper route and signed Demichelis instead. He could prove to be a very shrewd signing indeed.