There is no doubt that Pep Guardiola is one of the greatest manager’s of the 21st Century.
His successes at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City, his development of playing styles and players, has seen him both reach and remain at the very top of his profession.
But the Catalan with over 29 trophies to his name and a 74.67 percent win ration during his 13-year senior coaching career still, somehow, splits opinion.
Despite his successes, Guardiola gets held to a higher standard than many, if not all, of his peers. Those calls of ‘Fraudiola’ are never far away.
Certainly much of that is seemingly down to his spending; he has never been afraid to splash the cash in his pursuit to improve. Often it has worked out – certainly, going big takes away some of the risk. Sometimes it hasn’t.
Mirror Football takes a look at Guardiola’s top five most expensive transfers
5. Aymeric Laporte
Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City, £57million
In January 2018 Guardiola wanted a new centre-back. City were romping to the title at a canter – en route to the English top flight’s first ever 100 point season – but weren’t fully happy with their central defensive options, with Vincent Kompany no longer a regular.
As such, they elected to take the plunge on Laporte, meeting the then-23-year-old’s £57million release clause, depositing it with La Liga and handing the Frenchman his debut against West Bromwich Albion the following day.
Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, said: “With his quality and ability to play out from the back, we feel Aymeric will fit in perfectly with Pep Guardiola’s playing style.”
Laporte did just that, emerging as one of the Premier League’s very best defenders over the next 18 months and being named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2018-19 as City made it back-to-back titles.
The left-footer remains extremely important but injuries have held him back over the last 18 months.
4. Joao Cancelo
Juventus to Manchester City, £60million
Guardiola has always been inventive with his full-backs and his use of Joao Cancelo, one of City’s best performers during 2020-21, has seen the Catalan create a new niche for the talented Portuguese.
City’s nominal right or left-back when selected, Cancelo has been given creative licence to move into attacking central positions to help create chances; after a fairly unspectacular debut season, he is thriving in his second campaign at the Etihad.
Now 26, he has really matured in the past 18 months and you almost forget about why he did pitch up in Manchester.
That reason effectively, was two-fold:
1. City liked him and felt that he had much more to give than he had shown at former club Juventus
2. Juventus desperately needed to balance their books with a major exit before the case of the August 2019 transfer window.
As such, just a year after moving to Turin from Porto in a £35million switch, Cancelo joined City for £60million, ranking him No.4 in Guardiola’s list of biggest signings.
That doesn’t quite tell you the whole picture however, with Danilo moving the other way in a £34million move; both players were valued so highly for amortisation purposes, in order to keep both clubs accounts balanced and in line with Financial Fair Play.
VERDICT: Success. Continue reading