ANALYSIS: City Football Group acquire La Liga side Girona FC.
Girona FC is a Spanish side who’ve just secured promotion to Spain’s top flight, and Manchester City, one of England’s biggest teams, have loaned as many as five players to Girona. Naturally, one would ask why such a prominent side is open to sending so many of their talented youngsters to a side that, until very recently, plied their trade in the second division.
Let’s go back some time, to when this relationship started. Pere Guardiola is the man at the centre of this whole thing. It doesn’t come as much surprise that he’s the agent of current City manager, Pep Guardiola, and also represents players like William Carvalho and Luis Suarez. Pere acquired a stake in Girona FC in early 2015, with a clear aim to establish them as a top flight side in La Liga. This was, in the eyes of City executives Ferrain Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, a very good opportunity to get closer to the man they’ve long considered the ‘ideal’ man for the job at Manchester City – Pere’s brother, Pep.
City reached out to Girona and offered them a huge helping hand, in the form of an investment, and also by loaning to Girona a few of their young stars. They then proceeded to sign Girona target Ruben Sobrino, before loaning him to Girona for the season. Another helping hand was in the signing of Girona defender Florian Lejeune, who was loaned straight back, essentially giving the Spanish side free money. Evidently, with the aid given by Manchester City, the push for promotion was that much more comfortable.
It was by these gestures that City got closer to Pep, and ultimately impressed him with their project, which made the Catalan want to jump on board in January 2016. The trio of Soriano, Guardiola and Begiristain, which was so successful at Barcelona, was finally reunited. It was probably the worst kept secret in world football that these two gentlemen (Soriano and Txiki) wanted to establish an empire here at City, and create a model like Barcelona’s at their prime.
While City have achieved their main target of securing Pep’s services with their affiliation with Girona, it would be short sighted to say that it’s the end of the line in terms of business with the Spanish team. City will continue to loan them players, and maybe even help secure a transfer target or two as Girona face the tough task of retaining their spot in the Liga.
In return for their, for lack of a better word, generosity, they would expect Guardiola to commit to the blue half of Manchester for the foreseeable future, with a happy Pere Guardiola helping with the contract situation(s). For City’s youngsters, a loan spell with Girona would mean a chance to gain some first team experience against some of the best teams in the world. And their performances are sure to be closely noticed by one, if not both the Guardiola brothers, which would, of course, improve the chances of the player featuring for his parent club.
The City Football Group have been extremely shrewd in their acquisition of Girona, for they have purchased 44.3% of the club, with the same percentage stake also now in the hands of Girona Football Club, headed by Pere Guardiola. This was done in order to avoid any possibility of a conflict of interest. To elaborate, had both, City and Girona qualified for UEFA’s European competitions, understandably, only 1 of the 2 would have been allowed to compete. But this was implementable only if the CFG had acquired a majority stake, which they have cleverly diverted from.
City’s ambition shows no limit, and this move is a huge statement in itself.
Written by Ayush Verma.