In regards to the hype surrounding Giovanni Reyna, it’s all true. The American will turn 18 in mid-November but anybody who has watched him for Borussia Dortmund this season knows that he is playing well beyond his age. The teenager has been orchestrating the attack for one of the biggest clubs in Europe and, with impeccable technique, balance and creativity, the attacking midfielder will undoubtedly command a massive market value. Undoubtedly, Manchester City will be the club to pay. In the age of the mega-transfer fee, if City end up paying £75 million, it will still be worth every pound. Here’s why.
Disclaimer: City are in no immediate need of a young attacking midfielder given their current squad. While Rodri and Fernandinho have proven to be the only midfielders who “hold”, ahead of them is a deep talent pool that includes Kevin De Bruyne (aged 29), Bernardo Silva (26), Phil Foden (20), Riyad Mahrez (29), Raheem Sterling (25), Ilkay Gündoğan (30) and Ferran Torres (20) vying for four positions behind true strikers Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus. City legend Fernandinho won’t likely see another season at the club as he turns 36 in May and Mahrez may leave the club in the next two seasons but De Bruyne will surely stay on for three, maybe four more seasons.
It would be unlikely for Reyna to leave the German club before he turned 20 but this would be an optimal time for City to add more youth to their attack. The transfer almost seems foretold: Gio Reyna’s father, Claudio Reyna, played three and a half seasons for the Cityzens from 2003-2007. Claudio Reyna’s wife and Gio’s mom, Danielle Egan, played six times for the US Women’s National Team after a stellar career at the University
of North Carolina. As a small boy, Gio lived in Manchester while his dad was playing for City. It’s not been confirmed that Gio himself is a City fan but his older brother, who passed early at the age of 13 (Gio was nine) is said to have been a City supporter even after his dad stopped playing for them and the family moved away.
Thanks to a wonderful upbringing, Gio Reyna is a young football player of real character and résumé, qualities that are vetted for thoroughly in Manchester City signings. Even after Claudio had hung up his playing boots, he still remained important to City Football Group, the holding company that owns numerous football clubs worldwide including Manchester City and New York City FC, where Claudio became Sporting Director in 2013. Gio played in the youth system until he turned 16 and was signed by German
giants Borussia Dortmund.
Besides fitting the bill with his style of play and family roots, Gio will appeal to City for another reason: signing an American will expand City’s popularity stateside. We’ve become accustom to hearing the un-substantiated myth that when clubs spend big on a player, the transfer fee will be partially recuperated through jersey sales. This is false.
Juventus spent $129.3 million on Cristiano Ronaldo. His shirt sold half a million units in the first 24 hours, roughly $60 million overnight. Of that money, Adidas took home somewhere in the region of 85-90%, leaving the Turin club with a check for around $10 million. It’s absurd to think that shirt sales alone would make up any substantial amount of such an extraordinary transfer fee.
However, much like we’ve seen in other instances with a pop-culture icon, namely Kanye West, everything Ronaldo touches seems to turn gold. When Kanye signed a deal with clothing brand The GAP, shares rose as high as 40%, a $700 million increase to their market cap. Similarly, when Ronaldo moved from Real Madrid to Juventus, the market shares shot up by 40% and the club’s social media channels gained 1.5 million followers in a single day. Juventus officials knew exactly what they were up to when they
spent such an incredible sum on a 33-year-old. His quality hasn’t dipped even slightly and the ripple effect of his arrival was felt throughout world football in favor of Juventus.
So, when the time comes for Gio Reyna to pack his bags and leave the black and yellow, whichever club takes him will know exactly what kind of impact his signature will have. In fact, this tactic has been around for years. Sir Alex Ferguson was well aware that a signing like Ji-Sung Park and later Shinji Kagawa would bring more than just what they brought to the game for 90 minutes. Juventus seem to be on board with the American expansion as they have signed young American midfielder Weston McKennie from Schalke (on loan for now). Christian Pulisic is a carbon copy of the future value Reyna will bring to City having signed for Chelsea from Dortmund in January 2019. Of course, the very first criteria is the ability of the football player, but if they have the quality, the added bonus of growing a club’s brand in a hot foreign market is a factor clubs consider when dipping into the transfer market.
It’s happening slowly but surely. There were proposals in Spain to play a league game in Miami in 2019 before players and player representatives met in Madrid and resolutely decided that they were willing to “go to the end if necessary” meaning a player strike wasn’t out of the question. American and European markets are brimming with opportunity for these European clubs. The NFL sees the potential as well having started to play league games in London and Mexico City in recent years. Growth is the goal and if there is a world-class player who can kill both birds with one stone toss, clubs will write the checks. I feel that the promise of young Gio Reyna will be too tempting for City in the next two years. However, we shouldn’t rule out Liverpool making a similar bid with Naby Keïta heading in the opposite direction as part of a player + cash deal. For City fans, the most
ideal situation would be an enormous double-swoop for Erling Haaland and Reyna, reuniting both players with their father’s former club while trying to fill the massive void that Sergio Agüero will leave in the City attack. However, we can tear this article up and throw it in the bin if City decide to sign Eduardo Camavinga instead.
Let’s check back in a couple of years and see how this aged!
This article was written by Eddy Prugh. Follow him on Twitter.