Man City must hope for transfer luck in Euro 2020 waiting game
Football clubs never fully enjoy letting their players head off on international duty at the best of times. Domestic seasons that have taken months of meticulous planning can be upset by a random incident hundreds of miles away outside of their control.
That nagging uncertainty is stronger in a summer tournament, when the best players in the world all gather in one place to fight for supremacy. Stand out on the biggest of all stages and players are all but guaranteed to have more transfer interest in them before the summer is out.
This is not the first time Manchester City have been in this position; Raheem Sterling had two years to go on his deal ahead of the World Cup in 2018, where blockbuster performances with England would have weakened the club’s hand in any contract negotiations but as it transpired they were able to renew.
The situation this summer feels more unknown though because of the potential extent of the changes at the Etihad.
Pep Guardiola has not had a major churn in his squad since 2017, when he got rid of almost everything he hadn’t liked since arriving the previous year and spent big to bring in several new first-team players. Since then, City’s approach has been a minor tinker at best.
However, City’s success in a difficult season has drawn attention to their current squad and with the club pursuing other positions of interest in the market in addition to a marquee striker there is a genuine sense that first-teamers could leave; Guardiola has always said he will not stand in the way of anyone who no longer wants to be at the Etihad because he requires absolute commitment from everyone.
At Euro 2020, Sterling, Aymeric Laporte, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and others will all be on display for the continent’s leading clubs to admire and assess over the next month or so. While City holds their contracts, it is the players who can directly influence their negotiating position for the rest of the window through these upcoming performances.
Luck has already determined Joao Cancelo’s tournament, cruelly ruling him out after a positive Covid-19 test when he could have been one of the standouts in the tournament.
The club can only watch on and hope everything goes in their favour: that isn’t to say that star turns across the board would necessarily hurt them, but any situation in which they are not in control will not sit comfortably for them as they try and work out the best plan in an ever-changing window.