M.anchester City and Liverpool completed their key deals early. The arrivals of Erling Haaland and Darwin Núñez respectively will give the clubs a lot of positivity in the pre-season phase and the rivals are already wondering how to catch up.
It is of great importance for a player and a team to give a signature as much time as possible to stabilize. Closing deals in June means they can sort out the off-screen details, such as where to live and, if necessary, organize school for their children. This is a real help because it allows a player to focus on adapting to a new work environment and everything that comes with it.
Teammates will get a big boost when they see that a world-class player, who will improve their squad, has signed. If Liverpool hadn’t quickly replaced Sadio Mané, their players might have felt uncomfortable knowing that a top performer was gone and there was no one to replace his goals, assists and all-round play.
The fact that City and Liverpool have brought in players will thrill the team and people will realize they need to improve their game as the newcomers will push them to the max and challenge them. Gamers need a competitive environment to thrive.
When things are done in advance, it creeps into everyone’s mindset. I spoke to a player who said his team didn’t bring anyone in a season and didn’t perform well. The following season they signed three top players and won the Premier League because new players inspire confidence and inspire people.
For those chasing the group in the top six, he pressures to get things done. Seeing a rival spending hefty sums on a striker will leave players from those clubs wondering why their teams aren’t doing the same and why they have to read the transfer rumors in hope as City and Liverpool are integrating Haaland and Núñez. Watching others improve while you stagnate is difficult for ambitious players. They will wonder how they can match them when they are already late in mid-June.
Selling Mané was the right decision for Liverpool, not because he is not good enough – he has been the best player of the season in recent months after returning from the African Cup – but when money is put on the table for someone to enter the their last year of contract, is the sensible option to take it. It was clear that he wanted to leave, so reacting to replace him is better than forcing him to stay.
If I had to choose a manager to use money wisely, it is Jürgen Klopp. I don’t think any other manager would use that £ 30 million so wisely. Not always a strong point for other managers, but Liverpool recruit well and use funds wisely. Núñez has a six-year contract, which gives him plenty of time to grow and will have sales value.
As for business, it was the right move. I am sad to see Mané go because he was brilliant and Liverpool fans rightly love him, but change is not to be feared.
Due to the team Núñez was in at Benfica, he didn’t always have the maximum support, but he held the ball well and could dribble. He caused some problems against Liverpool in the Champions League.
It was very different for Benfica and stood out as a sore thumb. I always try to look not just at a player, but at what he has around him: Núñez had two decent wings, but the whole team was based on him. He was all about scoring and even if he couldn’t score, he would keep him on his feet and connect the game. I can understand why Liverpool followed him.
At the City, Pep Guardiola is constantly evolving; he has different styles and often changes small details, which he will do with Haaland. City will not make such an effort to sign Haaland and not exploit his strengths. With the wide players they have and the areas attacking along the flanks, Haaland will be six to eight yards to touch them. He will get 20 goals next season thanks to the players around him.
There will be expectations of him, but City scored 93 points last season, so there isn’t much room for improvement. They are bringing Haaland to keep evolving, making sure their rivals don’t get a world-class striker. They know he will have a selling value if City decide to let him go to the bottom, maybe to Barcelona or Real Madrid.
There will be pressure on him to make a difference for City in Europe, but we have to manage expectations. Many of the City’s big-name signings have taken time to settle. It took Raheem Sterling three seasons to reach double-digit league goals, Rodri took a long time to adjust to the Premier League and Jack Grealish proved how difficult it is to automatically fit into a Guardiola side. But Haaland has the talent and temperament to do it.
City and Liverpool are the teams to beat on the pitch and their smart business acumen and ruthless nature in the transfer market prove that they too are hard to grasp.