Manchester United and Manchester City paid a combined £313 million in transfer fees alone last summer. That netted the two teams a total of 12 players. Now, with the two teams both in a battle for spots in the top four (and the Champions League spot that comes with it), they're set for a massive derby that could determine the rivals' seasons.
How do those signings they made last summer look now? Let's rank them:
The 20-year-old joined Manchester City for £1.7 million and was immediately loaned to PSV Eindhoven, where he's been fine. It's hard to imagine City not being able to sell him for more than they paid for him, so this can't be a terrible signing. Is he good enough to make it at City? No one seems to have any clue.
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Paying £13.8 million for a 29-year-old generally isn't great business. To make matters worse, Nolito has fallen out of favor at the Etihad and already looks to be on the way out, with just nine Premier League starts to his name as the season nears a close. Oh, and his wages are in line with most everyone else at Manchester City ($$$$$) so selling him will probably require convincing him to take a pay cut.
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A forward who cracks Colombia's national team while still a teenager is probably a pretty great prospect, and Moreno appears to be just that. Now 20 and on loan at Deportivo La Coruna, he's adjusting to life in Europe and getting to play in a country where he speaks the language will probably help. That City were able to snag him for just £4.75 million is some great work because, worst case scenario, they can sell him for a profit. But bet on him being good enough for the City squad at some point.
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When you pay £20 million for a player who suffers a major knee injury, it's not exactly great and, considering that, Gundogan should be lower. But here's the thing -- Gundogan is still a very good player and he's the only central midfielder that Manchester City signed. The Citizens, somehow, did not buy more players to put in the center of the park despite Pep Guardiola, lover of all central midfielders, coming in. So Gundogan gets a bump on account of actually being a central midfielder that City bought and being someone who the Citizens will desperately need in future seasons.
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Let's start with this: paying £47.5 million for Stones was absolutely insane.
That said, Stones is a pretty good defender with some unique skills and he's only 22 years old. He's been made to look worse than he is this season because Pep Guardiola generally hangs his centerbacks out to dry and that's especially true in a team where the central midfield doesn't function. If Stones were playing in a more conventional system and/or didn't carry such a huge price tag, he'd get much more credit than he has gotten.
We've seen a lot of players struggle in their first Premier League season before figuring it out, and Mkhitaryan hasn't been bad. He just hasn't been as good as the Red Devils had hoped for. We'll see if he meets his £27 million price tag in the future, but at least there's no reason to doubt he can be a contributor at Old Trafford.
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Bravo hasn't been especially good and at £17 million, Manchester City could have done better, but the alternative was Joe Hart. At least the Citizens upgraded the position, got someone Pep Guardiola trusts and crossed off one problem spot. They'll have to upgrade the position soon, but in a time of transition, taking care of a need with minimal pain isn't too bad.
Bailly never quite found the right central defense partner and that's why the Red Devils often looked better without him, but, individually, Bailly often played extremely well. The 23-year-old should be a fixture in the United defense for the next decade and £30 million may be steep, but it will be worth it and then some if Bailly is the player he looked for stretches this season.
First of all, he came on a free transfer. Second of all, he played a huge role in the Red Devils success this season so if they manage to nab a Champions League spot, it will be in large part due to the Swede. Considering the Champions League is worth upwards of £70 million to the Red Devils, that's a huge deal.
So yes, he got hurt and may never play for Manchester United again. He was still a (predictably) magnificent signing.
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The only downside with Pogba is his astronomical transfer fee. Put that aside and you have a player who was one of the Premier League's best midfielders, carried along players who, frankly, shouldn't be starting for Manchester United, and fixed a long-standing central midfield problem at Old Trafford. Oh, and he did it at 24 years old while adjusting to a new league. When you're Manchester United and can afford the world, the transfer fee doesn't look so bad, and everything else about Pogba looks good.
It took a few months for Sane to find his feet, but he's spent 2017 as one of the Premier League's most dangerous attacking players. Not bad for a 21-year-old, who only figures to continue getting better, has the ability to play across the front line and is a perfect fit for Pep Guardiola's system. Manchester City paid £37 million for Sane, so he wasn't cheap, but they might pay double that now.
This one requires a bit of a leap of faith because we haven't seen nearly as much from Jesus as we have Sane or Pogba. But in the bits we have seen from the Brazilian, he's been sublime. He walked right into the Premier League and won Manchester City matches, all at the age of 19. It usually takes Pep Guardiola some time to warm up to players, but he fell in love with Jesus right away and it's not hard to see why. If he becomes as good as he can be, the £27 million City paid for him will be an all-time steal.