Manchester City have revealed that the Financial Fair Play Rules were behind the surprise release of striker Alvaro Negredo on transfer deadline day.
The Premiership champions were fined £50million and told to limit their net summer spending to the same amount. Perhaps more significantly, they were punished with a maximum roster of 21 players for their Champions League squad.
Negredo was signed from Sevilla last year for £20million and, along with Dzeko and Aguero, tormented Premiership defences as City?s strikers enjoyed a terrific season. He has now joined Valencia on a one-year loan deal that will become permanent next summer.
Parting with Negredo was not in the mind of Pellegrini prior to the FFP punishment but he was forced to re-assess his Champions League plans when the striker suffered a broken foot that will keep him on the side-lines until November.
City were fined along with Paris St Germain and Zenit St Petersburg for breaching the rules. They may only be asked to pay £20million if they are able to stay within the guidelines in future. It was an obvious decision to leave the injured Negredo out of his squad for the Group stage of the Champions League. The striker had already expressed a desire to return to Spain but his departure has been hastened by the FFP ruling.
Despite the restrictions, City were still being linked with a possible move for Radamel Falcao on transfer deadline day before their Manchester rivals clinched the deal. Several pundits have questioned the wisdom of Pellegrini in discarding one of his front-line strikers with the busy Champions League and Premiership fixture list ahead of him.
Negredo and Aguero had forged an almost telepathic understanding before injury intervened last season. Fortunately for City, Edin Dzeko moved seamlessly into the vacant position and City eventually won the title after a slight dip in form. Aguero was not 100% fit at the World Cup in the summer and is still short of peak fitness.
Stevan Jovetic will play a key role for City and struck twice in the 3-1 victory over Liverpool last month. At £7.9million, he is by far the cheapest of City?s attacking options but moves right into contention for a regular starting place in the absence of Negredo. A hamstring injury picked up on International duty for Montenegro has temporarily halted his great start to the season.
City will get a good indication of what lies ahead in the coming days. After a 2-2 draw at Premiership rivals Arsenal, they travel to Bayern Munich in the Champions League before hosting title favorites Chelsea next weekend.