Four weeks away from the blockbuster arrival of the world's best football coach at Manchester City, the rumors certainly don't stop. And the latest one, if accurate, promises a boatload of changes to the current squad.
According to a report from the Mirror, Pep Guardiola has told the City board he plans to make as much as eight changes in the starting lineup, and only Sergio Agüero, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho can consider themselves "untouchable" players in the current squad. All other positions could be changed, and plenty of starters could be dropped to the bench to become bench options, with a few even heading out of the door.
The main change will certainly be in the defense. City was a terrible team avoiding goals in Manuel Pellegrini's last campaign, and much has to do with the bad performances of Eliaquim Mangala, Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi, combined with the non-stopping injury issues that plagued Vincent Kompany's campaign. The two central defenders could be brand new, and two targets are clear: Everton's John Stones and Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte.
Full-backs are also a problem: Pablo Zabaleta is no longer a reliable option at right-back as his season was also full of injuries, and Bacary Sagna might not be good enough for Pep Guardiola's standard. Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal is a target for that position. Aleks Kolarov and Gael Clichy are also far away from great, and Tottenham's Danny Rose emerges as a big option.
In goal, Joe Hart has been the undisputed starter for the last several years, but he might not have the profile of a Pep Keeper, who needs to be good with the ball on his feet. One of the two Barcelona goalkeepers, Ter Stegen or Claudio Bravo, could be joining this summer, causing the England No.1 to either drop to the bench or even leave the Citizens after a decade of services.
Further up the pitch, the major change: a midfielder capable of dictating tempo, passing the ball around with key accuracy and control possession during the entire 90 minutes. Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan is very close to joining, and an announcement could come in the near future. But his injury past is a little concerning, and another signing in midfield might be necessary. Real Madrid's Toni Kroos could reunite with Guardiola, and Arsenal's Jack Wilshere is also a target if he can finally be healthy.
There is good depth in attack, but Guardiola plans one more signing in that department: a fast, skilled winger capable of beating defenders one-on-one. The main target is Schalke 04 rising star Leroy Sané, one of the brightest young players in the Bundesliga.
More rumors will come over the next several weeks, but it is safe to say Guardiola will change not only the style of play, but a good portion of the squad. Get ready for quite a few new faces in the Sky Blues next season.