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Deadline Day Disaster For City As They Fail To Land Top Targets
By Obinna Okenesi

Manchester City started deadline day in confident mood: deals for Alexis Sanchez and Jonny Evans were on the table, not to mention a scarcely believable offer for Eliaquim Mangala.

Long before the transfer window closed they had missed out on both Alexis and Evans and failed to recoup any money whatsoever for Mangala.

It was Arsenal who scuppered City's chances of securing Alexis, the one remaining priority target, by failing to get their own ducks in a row. 

Evans was by no means a priority at the start of the summer but ended it as the only viable option who ticked all of the boxes required by Pep Guardiola.

Yet he did not arrive either, a result of Mangala refusing to join Crystal Palace for a fee which could have reached £23 million, more than the Blues had ever hoped to receive.

The failure to land Alexis has left senior figures at City dumbfounded. They had reached a verbal agreement over a £60m deal with Arsenal on Thursday morning, with the Gunners promising they would sign it off once they signed Thomas Lemar from Monaco, which they insisted was a distinct possibility.

As of 13:00 BST, City officials working on the deal were convinced it was done.

The Chilean had already announced to his international team-mates that he was making the move to City and he was saluted as the squad ate breakfast together ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Paraguay.

Sources within the player's inner circle had also been telling Goal throughout the day that not only had a contract been taken to Chile's Juan Pinto Duran camp, but that it had in fact been signed.

Lemar rejected Arsenal, however, leading to the Londoners pulling down the shutters and refusing to sell Alexis. That was that.

The Chilean, in the hours leading up to an important qualifier, eventually learned he would not be getting the move he had set his heart on several months ago. Next week he will return to Arsenal, the club he has wanted to leave for some time.

To compound matters for City, they soon realised that Mangala did not want to join Crystal Palace, who had surprised City with a sizeable offer on Wednesday night.

City needed to get rid of the Frenchman to be able to bring in Evans, who had been identified as an experienced international and a very useful squad option.

There had also been hope that Mangala could go to West Brom to smooth over the Evans negotiations, but he rejected that proposal too. As did Fabian Delph, who was also up for sale but rejected several offers, including another from Stoke City.

Both he and Mangala will now form part of the City squad for next season, despite not being rated good enough by Guardiola. 

It means that City end the summer with a bitter taste in their mouths, despite starting it by signing Bernardo Silva out of the blue and quickly agreeing personal terms with at least five other players. 

The business City did complete was impressive; they filled priority positions with very good or even excellent players who should have the best years of their careers ahead of them.

But it is true that the deals which escaped City this summer have had knock-on effects which will last into the season and potentially beyond.

The Dani Alves situation has been well covered, but it is a fact that the Brazilian's shock decision to snub Pep Guardiola scuppered City's hopes of buying four new full-backs and also ate into the money set aside for a top-class centre-back.

It also ensured that City had to pursue Evans, a homegrown option for centre-back, to effectively replace Ryan Bertrand, who would have been signed as the fourth left-back.

Ideally, City wanted to go into this season with Vincent Kompany, John Stones, Aleksandar Kolarov and an experienced, top-class defender as their four centre-back options. Kolarov would have been released on a free next summer and replaced with another world-class centre-back.

In the event, City will have to sign both of those quality centre-backs next summer, as well as recruiting at least one deep-lying midfielder, with Fernandinho and Yaya Toure out of contract. 

More immediately, however, they will have to play out the rest of the campaign with the unwanted Mangala as part of an understocked defence which is still lacking a second left-back.

City never planned to sign a central midfielder this summer, and insiders insist they can get by with three centre-backs and three full-backs, but even if that is true the puzzle is far from complete without Alexis.

The Chilean, a serious goal threat with a winning mentality and tireless work-rate, possesses everything Guardiola wants in a player, and he was seen as the man to drag the club forward on the pitch and nurture the young players off it.

City may go back for him next summer, and they could well find both top-class defenders, but that will be no good to them over the next nine months.

The Blues still have the best manager and the biggest collection of talented players in the country, but will have to hope injuries do not exploit a weaker squad than anybody expected. It all started so well, but a disastrous final day could prove costly. 

 

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