One could argue that Manchester City is entering the January transfer market too late. Although this season has been a difficult first half, the Blues are starting to turn things around in 2024, and more importantly, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are back in the weight room.
So far, Pep Guardiola’s limited roster has required him to find answers for injury concerns. Haaland hasn’t played for almost a month, and De Bruyne hasn’t booted a ball since the season’s opening moments. The same is true for Jeremy Doku, while John Stones is now sidelined due to injury, having missed the opening two months of the campaign.
Given the situation, it’s possible that City isn’t receiving enough credit for their point total, which is remarkably comparable to what it was at the end of the previous season. De Bruyne and Haaland will appear incredibly powerful when they return later this month.
That is not to say that there won’t be any problems in January. Guardiola no longer needs as many reinforcements for those important players, but one player will probably leave. It is therefore imperative that Kalvin Phillips acknowledge that his face will never fit at the Etihad.
He has only started two games this season, the two least important ones, and was benched for three matches when Rodri wasn’t available. It’s been obvious for a while that a shift would be beneficial for all sides. Newcastle is keeping an eye on the situation, and Juventus is quite interested in loaning Phillips to them.
It is unlikely that the England international would be replaced on a like-for-like basis, but City is expected to sign Argentina Under-17 World Cup standout Claudio Echeverri, paying River Plate £21.7 million for the 17-year-old.
Before moving to City, Echeverri will stay on loan at River Plate for an additional year. The two teams have a strong working relationship thanks to the January 2022 transfer of Julian Alvarez to the Etihad. Before making the move, Alvarez also spent some time back on loan at River.
Echeverri came of age during the Under-17 World Cup, scoring a hat-trick in Argentina’s victory against Brazil in the tournament’s quarterfinal in Indonesia. He has made six appearances for River Plate in 2023. Although Barcelona has also expressed interest in him, he is expected to sign a contract to join City as soon as the transfer market opens, even though it will take him at least a year to get settled in Guardiola’s team.
That being said, January is probably going to be quiet. Guardiola frequently expresses his wish to manage with a small team, and since several players are expected to return, he probably won’t feel the need to make any trades.
De Bruyne’s comeback may almost seem like a new signing. In January, he might be exactly what City needs.