Pep pleads poverty as City hit stumbling block on Harry Kane’s transfer

The COVID-19 pandemic has once more proved itself the great equaliser, as the unthinkable has apparently come to fruition – Manchester City have finally run out of money.

Or so their manager Pep Guardiola would have you believe, pleading poverty as the reason his efforts to sign England captain Harry Kane have failed thus far. But fear not, City fans (all 20 of you anyway).

Whilst the thought of a dishevelled Pep sitting outside the Etihad, and using the Premier League trophy as a gilt-edged begging bowl is amusing, it is hardly reality.

This is, after all, the flagship club of the world’s most valuable footballing conglomerate, the jewel in the crown of Sheikh Mansour’s sporting ventures. Virtually every other club in world football would go broke before City.

Nevertheless, the truth is that the pandemic has financially impacted the princes and paupers of the Premier League alike.

And as the Super League fiasco showed earlier this year, the big sides are particularly aware of the long-term impact COVID will have on club finances, and getting more territorial by the day of their positions atop the footballing rich list.

They may not be poor, but it’s fair to assume City’s halcyon days of spending obscenely on players like Kane are long gone.

While Guardiola’s extraordinary claims may seem a natural result of their parent group CFG’s pandemic-hit purse, a far likelier scenario is that the champions are looking to haggle in their negotiations for Kane with Spurs.

Tottenham’s chairman Daniel Levy is an astute negotiator, renowned for squeezing every last cent from a buyer, and has previously thrown around valuations of up to 200 million for their talisman Kane.

It is not City’s style to haggle under Mansour’s ownership, but given the implications of Financial Fair Play rules, they must be careful to reduce net spend as much as possible.

By publicly declaring their inability to afford Kane, City will hope the player himself will force through a move he clearly wants, thereby driving his price tag down.

So fear not City supporters, and Tottenham fans, shelve that bottle of bubbly for now – the Harry Kane drama is likely not over yet.

Rather, Pep (implausibly) pleading poverty is surely the opening salvo of what’ll be an engaging, summer-long transfer saga, fit for pandemic times.