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Aapo Virtanen: Don’t Look Back In Anger

Started on 6 November 2018 by Jack
Latest Reply on 5 September 2019 by Justice
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Aapo Virtanen has confirmed his first signing as Manchester City boss as the club finalise the transfer of Matthijs De Ligt from Paris Saint-Germain.

The new manager has been at the club for little over a fortnight so far into his reign since he was announced as Carlo Ancelotti’s replacement on 17th June but his impact has now been strongly felt across the world as he has signed one of the global superstars in world football.

The deal is worth an original £82million, but clauses mean that the fee could potentially rise up to just below £100million.

The Dutch centre-back started his career at Ajax but failure to win an Eredivisie title during his first-team graduation period meant that De Ligt grew unhappy with his lack of achievements. In 2018, De Ligt made his first move to England as Chelsea snapped him up aged just 19 years old.

De Ligt spent five years of his career at Chelsea, but similarly to his time at Ajax, his team failed to win a single trophy in his time at Stamford Bridge. Growing more frustrated at the lack of silverware, Paris Saint-Germain signed De Ligt for a world-record fee for a centre-back as £122million was forked out for the Dutch international. De Ligt would soon after win his first piece of silverware with the Trophée des champions in 2023, followed by two consecutive Ligue 1 titles but only ever got as far as the Champions League Quarter-Finals with the French champions.

“I have come to Manchester City because they are the best club in the world right now. I want to win trophies and become a hero at this club similar to the likes of Vincent Kompany before me. This season we will go for every single trophy available and Mr. Virtanen sure seems capable of leading us that way.” Said De Ligt upon arrival in Manchester.

Over the course of his career, De Ligt has made 277 appearances and has become renowned as not only one of the world’s best defenders, but one of the best players in the world. He signs until July 2030 on approximately £175,000 per week at the Etihad Stadium.

There are many rumours stating that the arrival of Matthijs De Ligt has been triggered by the unhappiness of City stalwart John Stones who is about to enter his ninth year at the club after he joined back in 2016 from Everton. Some outlets say that De Ligt has been brought in as his replacement, but other reports also dispute this claim.

In other news around Manchester City, there has been a mass overhaul of the backroom staff in the light of Aapo Virtanen’s arrival. Five new scouts have arrived from Arsenal, Napoli and Atlético Madrid while there has been another three first-team coaches added to the ranks at Man City.

Scott: We all know that The Sun couldn’t care less about the line between true and false. Six years at Oulu demonstrates loyalty, even if just under two years at Fiorentina doesn’t.
LFCFan: She’s great isn’t she! ;) I’m really looking forward to doing a squad report on here, too.
This signing certainly boasts of Virtanen's aims for the future, setting a precedent that Manchester City are here to win trophies, both domestically and in Europe. De Ligt possesses great quality, as reflected by the clubs he has been associated with since departing Ajax. I feel like this duo could go on to dominate European football for years to come.
A massive first arrival who will surely be in his peak years now. Shows just how much larger resources you have here as I’m sure that will barely even dent your finances. Great signing and a great replacement for Stones.
:) Like your bit on The S*N. Brilliant first signing ;)

With the squad returning from their summer holidays due to no international tournaments taking place this summer, I feel like this is the perfect time to show you the first-team squad and staff for the upcoming 2025/26 season:


In the coaching department, we have the best in the division without a doubt. I obviously earn the most money per week as the first-team manager with £185,000 per week coming in. Upon arrival I was joined by my Oulu and Fiorentina assistant Thomas Jorgensen as well as the coach Bajram Fetai who has also been with me at every club I have managed. Rodolfo Borrell joined us for £1.3million from Atlético Madrid alongside a coaching duo arriving from Arsenal in the form of both Javier García and Padraig Roche.

In the medical department, we also have some of the best in the world. However, I have yet to make any of my own additions to this area of staff given that most of the existing physios and scientists are of the best quality already.

The recruitment team is the largest section of the backroom staff as it employs 21 people. Txiki Begiristain remains as the club’s Director of Football on just over £20Kp/w. This summer I have added five more scouts to the team, taking the club total up to 15 employed scouts, excluding the chief scout Gary Worthington. Carlos Vargas joined us from FC Bayern, Davide Cattaneo joined from Napoli, Tomasz Pasieczny joined from Arsenal meanwhile Cristian Martinez and Daryl Henry were both unattached before I approached them with a contract offer. Our new chief data analyst is also a new arrival as Riccardo Scirea joins us from Juventus.


Moving onto the first-team playing squad, we start with the goalkeepers. Ederson has remained at the club ever since joining Manchester City from Benfica in 2017 for a fee of £35million. He stays as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper as he heads towards making his 300th league appearances for Man City alone this season. As our back-up goalkeeper, Gavin Bazunu will be called upon whenever necessary should Ederson need some time out of the team. Since joining from Shamrock Rovers for £500,000 back in 2019, Bazunu has made 28 appearances for Manchester City, conceding only 23 and keeping 11 clean sheets in that period.


With the goalkeepers covered, we will look at those who will be covering the goalkeeper on the field with the defence. Andrea Marcato takes the lead as the most-talented centre-back in the squad as he has fulfilled his potential since his £57M move from Juventus three years ago. Last season was his first full season of key involvement in the starting eleven as he made 52 appearances across all competitions, gathering an impressive 7.12 average rating in the process. Looking to partner Marcato at the back will be fought between the very talented Niklas Sule or the new arrival Matthijs De Ligt. Sule has been a key player for Man City ever since his £101million move from Bayern Munich back in 2022. However, with De Ligt being a Virtanen signing, it could be argued that he will be preferred over the German. Raphael Varane rounds off the centre-backs as he will be a fourth-choice centre-back after a rich playing career in Manchester resulting in 12 trophies for the Frenchman.

Both the full-back areas are perhaps our weakest link in the squad, with an ageing David Alaba into his final years on the left and with no current back-up, and the quality on the right side with either Semedo or Odriozola is fairly average for a side wanting to win the Champions League, as well as the fact that both players are getting on in age nowadays.


Onto the engine room, the best central midfielder that we have is Nobuhiro Furuya by a long stretch. The Japan national team captain has gone from strength-to-strength since his £3.2M arrival in 2020 from Okayama FC. After two loan spells in Serie A, Furuya proved himself to the Man City hierarchy from 2023 onwards and has been an integral part of both Man City sides since. Alexandr Golovin was another huge signing from a few years ago when they bought the Russian for £103M from AS Monaco back in 2020. Since then, 133 appearances have come for the midfielder, scoring 21 goals in the process. Mateo Kovacic and Kevin De Bruyne - a City veteran - will be next in line after Furuya and Golovin. De Bruyne is entering his tenth year as a Manchester City player and has his testimonial friendly coming up soon against his former side VfL Wolfsburg.

If we need a defensive midfielder in our system on some matchdays, we are covered by two youngsters in the Frenchman Claude Blondel, who returns from a successful loan at Internazionale or the Spanish defensive midfielder Rafael Gonzalez Garciá. If we choose to go with attacking midfielders, we have much more experience as both Dele Alli or Phil Foden are out options for a number ten role.

Out on the left wing, Leroy Sané remains the club’s best choice down the left, backed up by the Brazilian winger Raphninha who spent last season winning the Serie A top scorer award when out on loan to AC Milan. Out on the right, Raheem Sterling is also set for a testimonial match straight after De Bruyne’s against Stuttgart after spending ten years at the club. He will have to fight with last season’s big signing Leon Bailey who signed for £105million from Chelsea last term.


With all but the strikers looked at, we introduce our most prized asset - the 2024 Ballon d’Or winner Kylian Mbappé. The French hero has won the individual award three out of the last four years. He costed Manchester City a jaw-dropping £169million in 2021 when he was bought from Paris Saint-Germain and has scored 90 goals in 180 of his City fixtures in all competitions. Backing up the world’s best player is Mauro Icardi, who combined with Mbappé’s league scoring record contributed 50% of City’s 86-goal total in their title-winning season. Since joining in 2018, Icardi has scored 108 goals in 221 league games. Finally, for the last player we look at this summer it is Luigi Bruno who was signed in 2023 from Atalanta for £48.5million and has contributed 18 goals in 42 of his league appearances, despite most of his appearances coming from off the bench.


Finally, we will look at what we are up against this season in the Premier League. As the current holders of the title, we are once again the favourites to win the league again, despite City only beating Liverpool by one point last season. Liverpool are heading into their fifth year of management under Diego Simeone and he will be hunting for his second Premier League title during his reign at the Kenny Dalglish Stadium.

Arsenal are predicted to finish a few places higher than their 2024/25 spot of 5th after hiring Carlo Ancelotti after Freddie Ljungberg left the interim post following Pep Guardiola’s sacking in February. After Ancelotti won the league back-to-back as well as the Champions League, the odds are more in Arsenal’s favour to challenge this time.

As Zinedine Zidane heads into his seventh year of managing Spurs this season, he only has one FA Cup trophy to show for his hard work. Spurs are predicted to come in 6th place this season after years of not properly investing in the playing squad.

Following West Ham’s League Cup victory last season, they are predicted to finish much higher than last season’s 14th placed finish as Thomas Christiansen leads them into the new season with new signing Lucas Moura on a free transfer.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton surpassed a whole decade as their manager last season however, under the 66-year-old the highest that the club have finished in the top-flight is 10th place which is why the bookies don’t place Brighton’s chances of breaking into the top-half too high.

Brentford, Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers all were promoted from the Championship last season, with my Oulu successor Simo Valakari leading Blackburn all the way to second-tier title last year. Blackburn are expected to stay up under Valakari, with Fulham - who scraped survival last year - are predicted to be relegated at the end of this season.

Scott: I was absolutely delighted to get him, especially after first thinking he would have costed much more! He is a fantastic player, there’s no doubt.
LFCFan: At just 25 years old he is at his peak, without a doubt. All he needs to mark the great player that he is is a major trophy, which I hope to achieve alongside him.
MLScouter: We all hate the Sun ;) Cheers mate
A very talented squad with a great balance between youth and experience. Marcato particularly looks a very intriguing prospect and will clearly be a very important player for you for years to come at just 21. Also having Mbappe still at just 26 coming into his ‘prime’ you have a striker capable of being the best in the world for the next 5 years atleast. The fullbacks could definitely be improved upon with Alaba being your best at 33. Overall a very very strong squad and I am sure Aapo will be lifting trophies with them soon.
I bet you were de Ligt-ed with that first signing.
The squad looks immense already. Imagine having a front-line of Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi, for f*ck sake. You can't fail, regardless of Icardi now being on the wrong-side of thirty. Also, those graphics are lush and make me envious. I wish I could do them, it basically gives you a free-pass into winning SotM given the writing that accompanies them. :P
Excellent squad you've got there, Jack. I think Aapo should give some of his wages, to Thomas ;)


Manchester City have completed the signings of Patrick Handwerker and Salvatore Venturelli


With Aapo Virtanen settling into his new cash-rich job at the Etihad Stadium, the development of the playing squad in the build-up to the new Premier League season has continued as City’s summer spending rises to £225million.

Matthijs De Ligt was the first arrival at Manchester City, marking the beginning of their summer spending as Paris Saint-Germain sold the Dutch centre-back for £82million earlier in July.

21-year-old left-back Patrick Handwerker was the second signing and the German youngster signs for his Schalke 04 release clause of £74million. He can play anywhere down the left-hand side of the field but he is most capable and natural playing at either left-back or left-wing-back.

Graduating from the Schalke academy in March 2019, it took Handwerker two years from signing his first professional contract with the Bundesliga side to make his senior debut in 2020 against Rot Weiss Ahlen in the DFB-Pokal Cup. Making five appearances in all competitions that season, Handwerker became Schalke’s first-choice left-back by the time the 2021/22 season arrived.

At the time of his departure, Handwerker had made a total of 170 appearances for Schalke in all competitions, making twelve assists and scoring four goals in his time at Veltins-Arena.

Internationally, Handwerker won the U-20 World Cup in 2021 with the Germany U20 side before making his full international debut against Israel in 2023. Since then, he has 19 international caps to his name at the age of just 21 years old.


The most recent arrival at Manchester City is S.S. Lazio’s Salvatore Venturelli, who arrives from Italy for a fee of £65million.

City manager Aapo Virtanen is said to be a big fan of the central midfielder during his time at Fiorentina when his former team played against Venturelli on three different occasions.

Venturelli was scouted for his boyhood club at the age of 12 years old before his first professional deal was signed in 2018. It was in 2021 when Venturelli made his first Lazio appearance in a Europa League fixture, coming on as a substitute in a 2-1 win against Bursaspor.

The following season, Venturelli broke into the first-team, making 12 appearances for the club before two consecutive loan spells to Salernitana Calcio from 2021 until 2023. Making 19 league appearances in Serie B for his loan club, he won promotion before an immediate relegation back down to Serie B the next season.

Upon his return to his parent club, Venturelli broke into the first-team to become a key part of Lazio’s starting eleven, making 30 appearances in 2023/24 before 27 Serie A appearances the following campaign.

The 22-year-old has stated that it was a ‘tough decision’ for him to leave his home club, but felt that for the good of his career and family that a move to England with Aapo Virtanen from Italy was beneficial.


LFCFan: There are certainly some great experienced players still at the club from way back to Guardiola’s reign here, as well as the obvious talents with Andrea Marcato. Mbappé has been absolutely excellent in recent years, winning global awards such as the Ballon d’Or for two years running - certainly excited to get up and running here!
Justice: Even for your standards….
Scott: I’m looking forward to trying to get the most out of such a talented pair of strikers, it’s just a matter of playing to all of this squad’s strengths which will be a hard thing to do with so much talent in the side.
SonOfAnarchy: I didn’t negotiate Thomas’ salary I’m afraid! If I did, it would’ve been a lot more for sure with his amount of involvement!
Once again some major money being splashed. But both players look real talents to further boost an already incredible squad! Surely the target must be winning everything at this stage!
It looks like you made a good venture into the transfer market.


A look at the coming and goings this summer at Manchester City

As the new 2025-2026 English Premier League season quickly approaches and the summer transfer window slamming shut this Tuesday, we take a look at the transfer business completed by Aapo Virtanen in his first few months of his arrival.

The 2025 window was by no means City’s biggest spending window, with Unai Emery trumping Virtanen’s spend on two separate occasions but the new Finnish manager has certainly reformed the look of the team he inherited following Carlo Ancelotti’s departure to Arsenal earlier in June.

The most expensive and arguably biggest name signed by the club this time was the arrival of Matthijs De Ligt from Paris Saint-Germain for an initial fee of £82million, rising to £98million depending on performance-based clauses.

In total, five first-team players were added in the form of De Ligt, Handwerker, Venturelli, Villar and Bauer who all arrived from different countries around the globe from Austria all the way to Argentina.



Two players have also been signed from AC Oulu - Aapo Virtanen’s first club and the club he made his name at. Both the Ivorian striker Maflamory Sylla and Brazilian attacking midfielder Deivison William joined for a combined fee nearing £3.5million, with another youth signing joining from Reims in France as Joel Koné arrived for £2.7million.

In terms of departures, the transfer window saw a streamlining of the Manchester City first-team, with seven first-team names being let go this summer, meaning City have had a net loss of two first teamers this summer.

Álex Grimaldo, John Stones and Raphael Varane were all let go after reports emerged of their unhappiness playing at the Etihad Stadium, with rumours stating that the trio all felt that they had ‘achieved all they could’ with the club following the Champions League success of last year under Ancelotti.

In terms of money, Julian Brandt was City’s biggest cash-earner this summer as Borussia Dortmund signed the German winger for £48million just four years after his £64million move from Bayer Leverkusen. He leaves for his home country with 20 goals in 95 appearances for The Citizens.

Raphninha also departed the club permanently after a moderately successful season-long spell on loan at Serie A runners-up AC Milan last season, heading back to the Italian top division to join Napoli in a deal worth £28million.

With Huddersfield Town heading into their sixth consecutive season in the Premier League, the purchase of John Stones for £24million is a significant move for the Yorkshire side this summer.

Interviewed on deadline day, Virtanen commented that the summer had been an ‘incredible success’ and that he had signed all of his targets that he had prior to his arrival in Manchester.

Fans have reacted fairly well to the dealings this summer, impressed with the big-name arrivals at the Etihad Stadium however, dismayed at the departures of club icon John Stones and the experience of Raphael Varane.

LFCFan: Complete domination and an iconic squad for years to come is the way Aapo rolls ;)
Justice: How long do you take coming up with these?
Interesting to see some of the movements in particular Stones going to Huddersfield and Varane to Roma. But the additions made have certainly strengthened (how that was possible I don’t know) the squad overall. Great window now it’s time to put on a show this season!
A tidy collection of comings and goings, which I expected. Virtanen is obviously content with the vast majority of the squad at his disposal - which is understandable looking at the pool of talent available. He seems to have managed the budgets well, but that's only on paper. We will have to wait and see whether they can translate into suitable recruitments on the pitch, considering the money paid for some of them.

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