Manuel Pellegrini has three main targets this summer to help turn Manchester City into champions again and make them real Champions League contenders.
The Chilean wants to bring in Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, Juve’s Paul Pogba and Wolfsburg’s Kevin de Bruyne to close the gap on the giants of Europe, like Barcelona.
City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has promised the funds to recruit world-class players this summer.
Pogba will cost in the region of £70m, while Liverpool are holding out for £50m for Sterling and have rejected two bids from City so far. De Bruyne is valued by Wolfsburg at around £35m, potentially taking City’s spending to over £150m.
But Pellegrini believes that is the quality City need to bring in after failing to strengthen sufficiently following their Premier League title success in his first year at the club.
Financial Fair Play restrictions meant the Chilean couldn’t sign the ‘crack’ player he coveted last summer, with City subsequently surrendering their title to Chelsea. Pellegrini admits they are playing catch-up now, with the gulf in class to Europe’s finest brutally exposed by Barcelona in the Champions League.
“We need to improve the squad because the club wants to keep progressing year after year and not for the lack of titles,” he said.
“Teams always need new faces and there is a qualitative leap that City has to make. That was demonstrated against Barcelona. But I’m in a club that is growing because it has the economic potential to. There is a great distance even with major clubs in Europe and we are trying to do to shrink it.”
City’s bold targets this summer are in stark contrast to last year when they signed Eliaquim Mangala, Fernando, Bacary Sagna and Willy Caballero. During the same transfer window Jose Mourinho brought in Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who had been on loan at Atletico Madrid.
“When you need a team to be strengthened is when it comes out champion,” added Pellegrini. “It is important renewal. It is not an excuse, but we did not have to be the favourites when Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United could spend what they wanted.”
Pellegrini’s long-term position remains in doubt, even after surviving an end of season review with Khaldoon.
But he insists he never doubted he would be given the opportunity to see out the final year of his contract, despite City being linked with Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti. “I knew the inner reality of the club,” he said. “Everybody in the club was dissatisfied with the team’s performance this season. The owners, directors, coach, players, fans, everyone. To go from there to say that I was leaving, is a big difference.”