Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Guardiola, Mourinho spend heavily to dethrone Chelsea

AP, LONDON

The way Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho have been spending, the Premier League trophy should be returning to Manchester in May next year.

In an off-season that has seen more than £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) invested in players, the rivals have accounted for more than a third of that spending.

It was the inevitable reaction to feeble title challenges that saw City finish 15 points behind the victorious Chelsea side in third place and United drift over the line nine points further adrift.

For a serial collector of trophies at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, finishing his first season in English soccer without a single title was an unusual feeling for Guardiola.

If the overhaul of the squad, costing more than £200 million, does not deliver silverware, there will be further uncomfortable questions for the Spaniard.

Guardiola has started rebuilding from the back by recruiting fullbacks Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker for about £50 million apiece.

Signing Walker was particularly eye-catching. The England right-back forced his way out of a Tottenham side that finished ahead of City in second place.

With their rigid pay structure, Tottenham lacks the will to break their budget to offer big salaries or spend anything yet on reinforcing a squad that delivered Tottenham’s highest league finish in more than 50 years.

Rather than being a platform to build on to challenge for a first title since 1961, Tottenham’s ownership appears more focused on building its new stadium.

In search of goals, United turned to last season’s second-highest scorer.

Striker Romelu Lukaku cost at least £75 million, while Mourinho offloaded captain Wayne Rooney to Everton.

Lukaku is not the only player being reunited by Mourinho, who also convinced Chelsea to sell Nemanja Matic to United.

A fee of £40 million proved too substantial for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to turn down, even if manager Antonio Conte wanted to retain the midfielder he still called “very important for our team.”

Arsenal also embarks on a campaign uncertain whether they will hold onto a key member of their squad, striker Alexis Sanchez.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is also looking to trim player surplus to requirements — an issue he discussed with fellow managers at a meeting this week.

“It looks like everywhere there is many, many players and a bit of congestion at the moment everywhere,” Wenger said.

The financial power of the Premier League means that promotion is usually accompanied by a spending spree to try to stay in the world’s richest soccer competition.

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