One currency that Barcelona are not short of is ambition. The Catalan club are still struggling to get their finances under control as a consequence of their lavish spending being followed by a global pandemic and increasingly tight financial controls set by La Liga, yet that does not stop the club being linked with the biggest and brightest stars in the world.
For a third successive window, that policy has led them to the door of one of the best squads in the game at the Etihad. First, they tried to bring top young defender Eric Garcia back to the Nou Camp, only to flounce off when City demanded anywhere near fair market value for a Spanish international who has been tipped to be one of the best in his generation.
The following year they came back for Garcia on a free transfer, also snapped up Sergio Aguero without a transfer fee, and then proceeded to try and convince a slew of other first-team stars to push for a move. Pep Guardiola has always said he will not keep unhappy players at the Etihad, so if somebody works hard enough to leave then they will not be denied – especially if that destination is the manager’s former club, it has seemed.
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That was the situation with Ferran Torres in the January transfer window, when City were accommodating to allow the player the move he wanted and a club in strong need of a statement signing to do just that. Torres had not been an integral part of the team in his 18 months, but losing the closest thing they had to a striker arguably hurt the Blues in other competitions when injuries bit deep in April and May.
Four months after he spoke positively about a new contract at the Etihad, there are growing concerns from City fans that Barcelona’s very public pursuit of Bernardo Silva has not been shut down yet. Where in 2019 Guardiola fumed at Bayern Munich openly targeting Leroy Sane, there have been no cross words for his boyhood club over first Torres and now Bernardo.
Sane is exactly the template for City to use on Bernardo this summer. Here was a player that the Blues were happy to leave – as long as they received what was a fair sum. Bayern did not come up with that in 2019, but did a year later when they signed him.
The same happened with Garcia too. As charitable as City have seemed towards Barcelona, it should not be forgotten that they knocked them back for a full summer by refusing to release a good player for a bargain fee.
After the season he has had, City have every right to demand a huge price for Bernardo – one of their best players who has just enjoyed one of his best seasons and still has three years remaining on his contract. However much Barcelona want it to happen and talk about it happening, City have shown before that money is the only currency they are happy to trade in.