Paul Pogba made the switch back to Manchester United for a record £89 million from Juventus, but has failed to live up to reputation in his debut season.
Pogba is not the only United player who has had shortcomings this year – Anthony Martial has not built upon his storming first season at Old Trafford and while, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has shown glimpses of genius, his inconsistency has left him fighting for his place in the side.
At 21, there is leeway for Martial to try establish himself, but, for Pogba there is no hiding when you have a record transfer tag on you.
Statistics argue that Pogba has not been as bad as the critics make out, but the 85% pass accuracy does not tell the true story.
In the Premier League, Pogba has scored just four goals and created 52 chances in total during his 26 appearances.
This does not hide the fact that he has been practically invisible against the top four sides this year – most notably when they played against league leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and he was forced to man the midfield by himself following Ander Herrera’s red card.
The Frenchman has felt the wrath of the media as a result – and so too has manager Jose Mourinho – something which must please their Manchester rivals who have come up short of expectations, but escaped relatively unscathed.
Pep Guardiola came to Manchester City and made his intentions of restructuring the team clear from the beginning, resulting in Joe Hart and Yaya Toure being shunned.
Hart’s replacement set the precedent for Guardiola that he would sacrifice goals conceded for distribution from the back.
At a cost of €18 million, Claudio Bravo came with high expectations, but his poor performances in goal have cost City dearly this year.
Midway through the season he had the worst goalkeeping record in the league, conceding 13 goals from just 22 shots.
The Chilean has not been helped by an inconsistent back line which includes City’s most expensive signing of last summer: John Stones (€55.6 million).
Chelsea came close to signing the youngster from Everton last season, and looked to be the future replacement for John Terry at the heart of Chelsea’s defence.
When the deal fell through, City pounced, but were forced to pay ten million more than what Everton had previously accepted from Chelsea.
At the Toffees, Stones’ biggest issue was overplaying and taking too much out of the ball and he has carried that on into his new club.
When called upon, Stones has shown ability but, his concentration and poor positional awareness have caused him to wander out of position allowing the opposition through on too many occasions.
His defensive partner Nicolas Otamendi has not helped matters nor has he mentored the 22 year – old the way Gary Cahill might have done at Chelsea.
Two of the bright sparks for City this year have been the two youngest signings: Gabriel Jesus (20) and Leroy Sane (20).
In just three appearances before his injury, Jesus managed to net three times and assisted once, while Sane has bagged eight goals in all competitions for his side.
Jesus’ injury was an unlucky happening for Guardiola who had only acquired the Brazilian halfway through the year; but injury to another new signing was no coincidence.
At €27 million, Ilkay Gundogan was a risky purchase for City and one which did not pay off.
Just months before, Manchester United pulled out of a deal to sign the German international, citing his proneness to injury as one of the main reasons.
Gundogan performed well for City in the first half of the season, but come December he had to be ruled out of the rest of the season with the same cruciate ligament injury he had obtained at Borussia Dortmund.
And these players shortcomings could lead to a trophy-less season for City – should they fail to surpass Arsenal in the FA Cup.
More worrisome is the increased tightness in the battle for top four football; Guardiola’s men sit just four points ahead of Arsenal and United, who both have a game in hand.
The deciding fixture could come against rivals Manchester United in two weeks time.
If Jose Mourinho’s men, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in particular, find form at the right time they could well find themselves ahead of Guardiola and co.
If this does come about, Guardiola will at last have some questions to answer about his transfer policy and more notably, his philosophy.