August 12, 2023
Man City have just been given another reason to sign Lucas Paqueta
In a world where Brighton defensive-midfielders are going for over £100million, the most puzzling story of the summer is Manchester City's pursuit of Lucas Paqueta. City are interested in signing the West Ham playmaker and though they insist an approach hasn't been made, manager David Moyes claimed City have made a bid which did not match their valuation. "We've had an offer from Manchester City, but at the moment it's not anywhere near meeting our valuation," he said. "We sold Declan [Rice] and I actually think Declan was quite cheap, to be honest." West Ham paid a club-record £51.5million to sign Paqueta last summer and are understood to value the player at £90m. There's plenty about the potential move to leave one baffled. First of all, City's interest in Paqueta as a player doesn't make a great deal of sense. They are keen to bolster their midfield options following Ilkay Gundogan's departure but Paqueta is of a completely different mould, a dedicated attacking-midfielder rather than a box-to-box metronome like Gundogan or indeed Mateo Kovacic. He likes to look for the quick, incisive through ball (which he does to great effect) rather than keeping possession and building moves with patience. Then there is the even bigger question mark of the fee. City have always remained strong and refused to cave to demands that exceed their own valuations, even if it means walking away from the deal. See Harry Maguire, Jorginho, Kalidou Koulibaly, Alexis Sanchez and Marc Cucurella. It's an extensive list but the most recent example is Declan Rice. City moved for the West Ham captain and lodged a £95million bid this summer which was rejected. Arsenal upped their offer to £105million and City bowed out of the running as a result. But if they really wanted Rice they could have dug behind the sofa and deeper into their pockets to find the extra change needed to match the offer. Yet they walked away. The market has inflated like a balloon at a helium factory and prices everywhere are bordering on the nonsensical, but surely it's better to pay an extra £10-15m for Rice or even Moises Caicedo than Pacqueta? A player who showed flashes of class but by no means blew the Premier League away in his debut season. The approach for an attack-minded midfielder also opens up questions on the fate of Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden this season. Both started on the wing in the opening match of the season against Burnley and the latter played very well. But both would rather be playing in a central role. Moving for another player who would operate in their ideal position rather than a winger indicates they will continue to be deployed on the flanks. There are all of these questions over a signing that's impossible to wrap one's head around, but City might have just got the best reasoning they could hope for to justify it. City got their title defence underway with a rusty but ultimately comfortable 3-0 win over Burnley but it was tinged with concern after Kevin De Bruyne pulled up just 20 minutes in. It was a blessing the brilliant Belgian was even playing given he was initially expected to miss the start of the season after tearing his hamstring in the Champions League final but his recovery time has been faster than expected. Hopefully, he didn't rush himself back too soon and his latest injury isn't a relapse. But whatever the diagnosis, things didn't look good in the middle of a boisterous Turf Moor. De Bruyne pulled up off the ball and knew his race was run. He didn't wait to be treated on the pitch, quickly removing his armband and heading for the tunnel. City will be praying for good news as he completely bossed the first 20 minutes and created the opening goal. However long he is out for, City won't be at their best and as they're already adapting to life without Ilkay Gundogan it's a particularly ill-timed injury. Should they be without their main creative outlet for a sustained amount of time then reinforcements will certainly be needed and the signing of Paqueta can at least be reasoned. The 25-year-old would have impossibly large boots to fill if he does arrive but City's most perplexing move of Guardiola's reign at least now makes a bit more sense.
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