Convinced any problem life presents can be solved with money, Manchester City will address their long-standing centre-back issues by blowing more chunks in Sheikh Mansour’s family fortune.
This time the damage could total upwards of £100m as the Citizens look to add two stoppers to the roster.
One is, of course, Everton’s John Stones, the ball-playing centre-half heartthrob of every elite outfit and manager for reasons unknown to the entire population of planet Earth not employed by a professional football club.
A shocker of a 2015/16 campaign and failing to make an appearance at Euro 2016 has apparently had no adverse effects on Stones’ market value, with a £50m price tag still dangling from around his neck.
Accounting for the other half of the outlay is Leonardo Bonucci, who is valued at an obscure £51m say The Guardian.
A lynchpin of Juventus’ feted rearguard, Bonucci starred for Italy at the Euros, but at 29, it’s difficult to understand how such an extravagant sum – one that would make him the most expensive defender in history – represents value for money.
His prospective partner, Stones, who may have plenty of potential, has demonstrated little in the way of footballing prowess that suggests he is an upgrade on the current rearguard marshals Pep Guardiola has to choose from.
It was only 12 months ago when City were sanctioning a £32m deal for Nicolas Otamendi, which came but a year after they spent the same amount on Eliaquim Mangala.
In two seasons they’ve spent £64m strengthening the heart of defence, but neither player compares to skipper Vincent Kompany, whom they remain ridiculously dependent upon.
Subtracting the Belgian from the fray, which the player’s physical fragility frequently forces the Citizens to do, has a distinctively detrimental impact on their backline. When £64m duo Mangala and Otamendi held the fort together last season, which they did on 21 occasions from the start, just four clean sheets were recorded.
Of the pair, the latter strikes as the authoritative, uncompromising type, while the former relies on power and pace. It’s almost as if each is armed with half of Kompany’s best qualities and were signed on the premise that their forces could be combined in the captain’s absence.
However, a mooted splurge north of £100m on two defenders suggests this particular experiment (better suited to Dr. Frankenstein’s lab than the Etihad Stadium dressing room) has been shelved by the new regime.
But Stones, lauded for his comfort in possession as opposed to defensive acumen, and Bonucci, whose rise to prominence was facilitated by flourishing in a specific system that neither City or Guardiola play, promise no end to the Citizens’ toils.
Their heavy-handed recruitment policy seems to focus on signing in accordance with reputation. It’s hard to envisage every stone being upturned in search of a solution to their situation when they have the cash to buy whoever is deemed the hottest property on the market.
But as they’ve experienced, this approach comes with no guarantee of success.