Manchester City are banking on two things coming true after completing a £100m deal for Jack Grealish.
The Blues have obliterated their own club record (£64m for Ruben Dias in 2020) as well as comfortably surpassing the British and Premier League record (£89m for Paul Pogba by United in 2017) for a player that wasn’t even their priority signing for this transfer window, adding proven quality to their squad while inviting inevitable moans that they are buying the league.
City have spent considerable sums of money on players in the Sheikh Mansour era – even if the only other time they broke the transfer record was back in 2008 when Robinho joined – but especially under Pep Guardiola there can be no denying that nearly every player has increased his value through the improvement shown at the Etihad.
Kevin De Bruyne was dismissed as “the £60m flop” on the back of a national newspaper when he joined the Blues in 2015 (for £54m, actually); Liverpool let it be known they were laughing all the way to the bank with the £49m they got for Raheem Sterling and some thought Jordan Ibe would mean the Merseysiders did not even miss him; the purchases of Kyle Walker and Ederson were both reported in some quarters as eye-watering and inflationary transfer prices: all of these players are now recognised as the best in the league.
That is City’s expectation for Grealish – everyone may talk about his price now but by the end of the season they will be talking about his added value individually and to the team.
As far as the club goes, there are some perceptions that they will never be able to change. Those that have been bleating about them ruining football or buying the league for years will continue to do so.
There is confidence though that the money generated by player sales this summer will restore a healthy look to City’s spending both for this summer and for the longer-term picture, given their net spend in the last major transfer window was under £50m. They are on track to make enough money to cover the cost of Grealish even without selling a first-team player, which would further enable their pursuit of Harry Kane.
Given the considerable spending by all of their rivals in recent years that is not expected to end any time soon, City are hardly operating on a different scale.
Ultimately, even if some still do not accept that if Grealish goes on to prove his value to a team that were two games away from a quadruple last season then the club will hardly care.