Up to this point, Manchester City have had yet another successful campaign. With 1 trophy in the bag already, and possibly 2 more trophies to come, City have to feel good about how things are going for them this season.
While losing to Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League was disappointing. City still have the F.A Cup to win, and to successfully defend their English Premiere League title.
No matter what happens, from now, till the end of the season, Pep Guardiola seems to be facing a dilemma though. It appears from the outside looking in, Manchester City could be set for yet another roster overhaul. Our success from last year has carried into this year. Overall, the squad seems to be in great shape. But something that continues to surround City is the possible departures of senior players. Throughout the season, City have consistently been in the papers for not only transfer targets, but for the sale or departure of players currently on the roster. While all teams deal with this on a yearly basis. The amount of players that apparently are linked with moves away, continues to pile up.
I am definitely one that likes to keep up with the transfer rumors of the day. While you can take everything you read with a grain of salt. There has been no shortage of rumors of players from our club linked with leaving. I can assure you that. A report recently, shortly after our Spurs loss in the Champions League, stated that 7-8 players could be headed for the exit in the summer.
Obviously I am not suggesting that 7-8 players are going to leave the club. But, the report somewhat coincides with other reports, which have individually signaled out these players listed below, with moves away from Man City.
- Ilkay Gundogan-
- Leroy Sane
- Claudio Bravo
- Nicolas Otamendi
- Gabriel Jesus
- Riyad Mahrez
- Vincent Kompany
All 8 of these players have been linked with moves away. Some of the reports are more loose, others have been more consistent.
Diving into these players: I’ve grouped these 8 into three categories.
Likely: The one that most stands out with leaving is Ilkay Gundogan. All season, he has been linked with a move away. He has yet to sign a new deal, with Pep publicly admitting he wants him to stay. Recently, he apparently put contract talks on halt, which put the Manchester media into speculation mode. At the moment, from what many connected with the club have suggested, Gundogan seems likely to depart at the seasons end if no contract is signed. Then, you add Nicolas Otamendi, who after Gundogan, seems to be the most linked of those 8 with a move away. It has been reported that Otamendi is open to a move away from Man City, due to lack of playing time.
At Some Point: It only seems like a matter of time before the likes of Bravo, Danilo and Kompany leave the club. Bravo is 2nd choice at keeper, who has had an up and down time at City. The injury he has sustained has held him out for the entire season. He loosely has been linked with a move away. There is suggestion though that City will listen to offers in the summer. Danilo is 2nd choice at fullback, who was promised more game time than he has gotten so far. Danilo was recently linked with Inter Milan, with contract talks being discussed. As for Kompany, no deal has been agreed, with his contract ending in a matter of a few months. There is belief that a deal will get done. Pep himself has expressed his desire to have him stay.
Wild Card: Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez have all had up and down seasons. All three are quality players. All three fairly or unfairly have been dropped by Pep, made 2nd choice. All three have not been directly linked with other clubs. But all three have been the most talked about players recently. Sane and Jesus were the first two mentioned in the report about “7-8 City players leaving in the summer”.
Of the three, Riyad Mahrez in my eyes would be the most logical to leave. He has had his moments of brightness, but his bad moments seem to have stuck out the most. The missed penalty against Liverpool, ironically could be costly to us retaining the title. Mahrez apparently is very unsettled at the moment. He has apparently threatened to quit due to lack of playing time.
Criticizing the team or the direction is not what I am aiming at. Merely to point out that there could be turnover at seasons end. That isnt necessarily a bad thing.
From what I have learned from Pep Guardiola. It isnt just about the tactics, but the 100 percent effort and demand he requires from his players on a daily basis. We have seen him praise his team when they lose, but lose with leaving everything out there. Playing his way, doing everything it takes, but just coming up short. We have seen him upset at 1-0 wins, where the team maybe didnt perform to his expectations, and lets it be known. Pep’s philosophy goes beyond the match itself, but what goes on behind the scenes. We are told from the man himself that training is his big determination on who gets selected for matches. If a player isnt performing well in training, he is unlikely to be selected for the match. This is probably where Leroy Sane is finding his biggest problems. Talent isnt what is holding him back on this team, but attitude and what he is showing Pep outside of the match.
To reach the level of success that Pep wants. I believe the team must constantly be in a state of change. To reach the heights that will allow us to obtain European success, or to consistently win the English Premiere League, City have to continue to find ways to challenge their own squad. To do that, they must keep asking questions about themselves, on how to get better. Winning 1 EPL title isn’t what Pep is aiming for. Winning trophies in back to back years is not what Pep wants. Even winning 1 Champions League is not what Pep is looking to achieve. Pep, throughout his managerial career has searched for perfection. Perfection on the field, perfection off the field.
I wont get into too much detail about who is linked with our club, or what the “transfer rumor” of the day is. But I would like to point out what I think will make this squad better, which there is always room for improvement.
- Holding Midfielder
- LB or CB
- More attack
You might be surprised at some of this. But in my eyes, Pep is aiming for more changes than just 1 player. The most talked about position is holding midfielder. I think that has and will be priority number 1. Searching for a Fernandinho replacement. They have been searching for that for almost 2 years now, but coming up unsuccessful. Adding a younger player will be a welcomed addition to the midfield. Which will allow Fernandinho and other players to be rotated and kept fresh.
Consistency on defense will be another area Pep looks at. Mendy is not in Pep’s good graces. The LB position continues to be a problem. The makeshift players have done an admirable job, but Pep will look for consistency. If he doesn't give Mendy another chance, look for City to pursue a LB. Ben Chilwell of Leicester City has been the most linked player. If Pep does stick with Mendy, it wouldn’t surprise me to see City take a look at CB. Laporte and Stones are a great pairing, but you need more than 2 CB’s to survive in England. If Otamendi is truly unhappy, look for him to be sold, as long as they can find a younger replacement. Matthijs De Light of AJAX would be ideal, though likely headed to Barcelona. Milan Skriniar of Inter Milan could be looked at as well.
Attack will be something that will always be a priority with City. It is a requirement. Pep demands perfection, he demands the ball. The only way to do that is to have a top quality attack. I am not sure Pep will look back on this season and be satisfied with his attack. Even with the amount of goals scored. Pep preferred a midfielder on the wings, rather than his two quality wingers in Sane and Mahrez. That right there should be a clue to what he thinks of his attack. It might be a game of semantics, but, his lineups speak volumes. Im not suggesting that Sane and Mahrez are leaving. But there is a possibility. City seem interested in getting even younger in the attack, being heavily linked to both Joao Felix of Benfica, and Luka Jovic of Frankfurt. In any case, someone would have to leave, to make way for these players. The possibility remains though, especially with Sane and Mahrez’s being second choice all season with Pep.
No matter what happens with the remainder of the season. Pep Guardiola and City seem poised for a big summer. Not only with players coming in, but with players leaving. That is a good thing. I embrace the change. Turnover will continue to challenge this club, till we eventually reach the highest levels of football.