Manchester City may be running away with the Premier League title and are still on course for an unprecedented quadruple, but that didn’t stop Pep Guardiola attempting to boost his squad with his pursuit of Riyad Mahrez.
Leicester City didn’t make it easy for the league leaders though, quoting a £95million asking price for the Algerian.
While City reportedly balked at that fee, they did offer a player plus cash deal in response.
Ultimately, the money wasn’t enough to persuade Leicester to sell but there’s been some speculation over which City player was offered in the proposal.
Here’s a look at three players who could’ve been offered as a makeweight in the bid, and could yet be used in a potential summer move as Guardiola has hinted at trying to sign the midfielder for a third time then.
Everton secured the loan signing of Eliaquim Mangala in the closing hours of the transfer window but the Frenchman could well have been offered to Leicester prior to that.
With Aymeric Laporte’s arrival and immediate induction into the first eleven, Mangala dropped further down the pecking order. Leicester could do with a boost in central defence as well with Wes Morgan pushing on at 34 now and only Harry Maguire proving to be a mainstay in that role.
However, The Foxes may have been in the hunt for a midfielder to help fill the void Mahrez’s departure would’ve left. Ultimately, a loan to the Toffees may have been the defender’s preferred option as well, one where he joins other high-profile acquisitions at Goodison Park and wouldn’t have to take a pay-cut.
After being the colossal figure in midfield that ushered City into the Premier League’s elite alongside the likes of David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure has been confined to the fringes of the first-team ever since Guardiola’s arrival.
He’s made only 11 appearances this season and just five in the league. While the 34-year-old is past his prime, he still has plenty to offer a mid-table side like Leicester and brings with him a wealth of experience as well.
There’s no doubt the veteran would have improved Leicester and Toure himself has been chasing more game time considering his decision to come out of international retirement. The main stumbling block over a potential switch, however, would have been his wage demands.
With first-team opportunities limited at the Etihad Stadium, Tosin Adarabioyo would’ve been keen on a move away. The 20-year-old has made a handful of impressive appearances for the Citizens this season, one of them in the Carabao Cup win over the Foxes in December.
Adarabioyo would’ve offered Claude Puel’s side a solid option in defence and potentially been a fixture in their team for years to come. While his wages would fall more kindly within Leicester’s budget, his lack of experience would certainly have been a drawback.
Arsenal offered just £12 million for West Brom defender Jonny Evans in a late failed bid, according to reports. Albion had valued Evans at £30million in the last window and it would have taken a bid of over £20million to even bring them to the table this time.
The Daily Telegraph reports that both Manchester City and Everton were rumoured to be eyeing up the Northen Ireland international as well, but the 30-year-old will be staying at The Hawthorns until the summer at least.
Sky Sports reports that the Gunners may not have been able to spend more due to the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s £56million price tag. Should Evans go in the summer he may cost a new side just £3million due to a reported relegation release clause in his contract.
Wantaway Leicester playmaker Riyad Mahrez is said to have been left “depressed” after Man City walked away from a deal, having been quoted a price of £95million for the Algeria international, according to reports. Sky Sports reports a friend of the 26-year-old commented: “By my calculations, Leicester would have made £59.8million profit on the player they bought from Le Havre for £350,000.”
Pep Guardiola was said to have earmarked Mahrez as a potential late target for the Premier League leaders after the blow of losing Leroy Sane to injury. City made bids of £50million and £60million, but the Foxes bosses would not budge, according to The Sun.
Manchester United defender Daley Blind saw his hopes of a move to Roma scuppered after Reds bosses demanded a permanent deal, the Daily Express reports. The Serie A side were reportedly only prepared to take the 27-year-old on Holland international on loan. Roma ultimately went for Sporting Lisbon’s Argentinian left-back Jonathan Silva, 23, who will be in Italy for the rest of season.
Crystal Palace offered Lille up to £16m for captain Ibrahim Amadou, although the French side pulled the defender off the market, Sky Sports said. Amadou, 24, was reportedly keen to move to Selhurst Park, where bosses had offered to take him on loan until the end of the season for an initial £2m fee, with a £14m obligation to buy at the end of the campaign.
Mesut Ozil is said to have turned down a £435,000-a-week contract with a Chinese club before signing a new deal with Arsenal, The Sun reports. The Germany midifielder, 29, is rumoured to have been a target for Guangzhou Evergrande, who were prepared to pay him around £22m-per-year. The deal would have far exceeded his new contract at the Emirates said to be worth £350k-a-week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jack Harrison: The 21-year-old was a Stoke target before signing with Manchester City from sister club New York City of Major League soccer. The midfielder has been loaned to Middlesborough.
Bryan Cristante: The 22-year-old Italy midfielder, currently on loan to Atalanta, would like to test himself in the Premier League, goal.com reports.
Premier League clubs spent £430million in the January transfer window, nearly double the previous record of £225million, according to analysis by Deloitte.
Deadline day alone saw Premier League clubs complete deals totalling £150million, also a new record for the winter window, the accountancy firm said.
Deloitte’s Sports Business Group estimates spending by Premier League clubs in the 2017/18 season to be a record £1.9billion, eclipsing last season’s record of £1.4billion.
Partner Dan Jones said: “Premier League clubs have taken the opportunity to refresh their squads in January before the decisive phase of the season.
“International trade has flourished, with the highest ever January gross overseas outlay in Premier League history (£260m), but also the highest amount of January receipts from abroad (£185m), with names such as Coutinho and Costa leaving the UK and Laporte and Aubameyang arriving from abroad.”
Liverpool got in early to line up the costliest deal of the month, signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for £75m.
Jones said: “While another record-breaking season catches the eye, Premier League clubs’ expenditure continues to be well within their means in the context of revenue generated.
“Estimated 2017/18 net spend of £755m represents just 17% of forecast 2017/18 Premier League revenue, in line with the average over the 15 years since the first transfer window in January 2003, as clubs’ increase investment in players in proportion to the overall growth of the football business.”
A new January transfer window record for player sales was also set, with deals totalling £340million, leaving net transfer expenditure at £90million.
The winter transfer season usually sees the bulk of spending by clubs at the bottom of the league as they attempt to spend their way to survival from relegation, although the splurge seen in January is more akin to the summer window.
Nearly two thirds of the gross expenditure was by the top six, while the bottom six accounted for about a fifth.
Jones said: “Such is the level of competition for a coveted top-four position in the Premier League, as well as ongoing European battles, that top clubs have been willing to break with more traditional summer investment strategies to steal a march on their rivals mid-season, with several club transfer records being broken in this window.”