Man City show off matchless depth with substitutes worth £479.2MILLION
Is this the best bench in history? Man City show off their incredible depth with substitutes worth £479.2MILLION including Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish for title-party game against Chelsea
- With the pressure off Guardiola was free to rotate heavily against 12th-place side
- Grealish commanded the highest free for United – but many players were a steal
- CITY 1-0 CHELSEA: Julian Alvarez gets the party started early at the Etihad
Pep Guardiola named what Gary Nevile on commentary concurred was the ‘best bench in history’ for their title-winning homecoming against Chelsea at the Etihad on Sunday.
With the club’s third consecutive title – a feat only completed by three managers in English football history before – secured ahead of kick-off, the Catalan head coach had the freedom to rotate his squad to face the 12th-placed west London side.
Guardiola made a staggering nine changes to the side that handed Real Madrid a demolition at home in midweek, with only Kyle Walker and Manuel Akanji keeping their places in the starting XI.
That meant the substitutes’ bench was stuffed with a raft of talent that almost any club seeing action in the Premier League would have slotted straight into their first team, with the players’ signing values totalling a whopping £479.7million.
Smashing the record for an English player transfer in 2021, Jack Grealish is the highest-valued player on the bench, and has more than lived up to his price tag after a dazzling second season in Manchester.
The former Aston Villa player was pictured deep in conversation with his friend and Footballer of the Year Erling Haaland, who cost City £51m to tempt from Borussia Dortmund during last summer’s transfer window.
Spanish midfielder Rodri broke the club’s then-transfer record with his comparatively paltry £63m-move in 2021, and he was available for action alongside his companions in the midfield Bernardo Silva (£43m) and Ilkay Gundogan (£21m).
Kevin De Bruyne was one of a number of club superstars who was brought on during the 1-0 victory, with his move to City in August 2015 costing the club £54m – a fee that like many of those attached to the decorated players, now feels eye-poppingly low.
Stones (£47.5m), too was introduced to the game, whilst goalkeeper Ederson (£34.7m), Bernardo Silva (£43m), and Portuguese defender Ruben Dias (£65m) all warmed the bench until the final whistle.
Guardiola’s players were forced to undergo a brief wait before lifting the Premier League trophy later that afternoon after fans flooded the pitch moments after their final home match this season came to a close.
Kevin De Bruyne was one of the superstar substitutes brought on by Guardiola late in the game
Security had to force players from both sides off the pitch at the pace and down the tunnel before forming a defensive ring around its entrance to keep out carousing fans.
Unparalleled squad depth has played a large role in City’s triumphant 2022/23 season, and Guardiola will likely make further adjustments to his starting XI in City’s final two matches, against Brentford and Brighton, as he manages his players’ match fitness before their post-season campaign.
In the hunt for a historic Treble, City will first face crosstown rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final, who will be keen to spoil the party early and ensure their noisy neighbours can’t replicate their peerless 1998/99 season.
After their rout of Real in the semi-finals, City will face Inter Milan at the Champions League final in Istanbul on June 10.
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