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Manchester City

On The Move: Manchester City’s Samir Nasri

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In a period of change under new manager Pep Guardiola, Manchester City are active in both bringing players to Guardiola’s liking in, and also clearing the ones the Spaniard is not too keen on. Wilfried Bony, Joe Hart, Eliaquim Mangala, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri are reported to be the players Guardiola hasn’t got plans for. A large amount of money wasted, in Pep’s eyes.

From the players on that list, Mangala is the only one yet to hit their prime. Hart, while a good shot-stopper, doesn’t have the distribution a goalkeeper of Guardiola’s needs – or so we are led to believe. The rest on that list have gone past their prime and the Spaniard seems keen to refresh the first team with younger players. The signing of John Stones and Leroy Sane certainly suggests this.

Of those Guardiola wants gone, Samir Nasri is probably the player that has failed at City the most. The Frenchman lit up the Premier League with Arsenal demonstrating a fine dribbling ability. Yet, at City, numerous issues have caused his career to stall.

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It was hoped Guardiola’s arrival would inspire the technician, yet Nasri returned ‘overweight’, according to his own manager. Guardiola has suggested since that Nasri is free to leave after omitting the Frenchman from the 21-man Champions League squad.

So if Nasri can leave, where will he go?

Expected: AC Milan

The Italian sleeping giants have been credited with an interest in Samir Nasri for a rumoured fee of £17 million. It seems likely that the Frenchman will end up over in Italy as his lifestyle suits what the country has to offer.

Yet on the football field, Nasri could aid Milan to a Champions League finish if he was operated correctly. Pellegrini tried to deploy Nasri from an inverted left position yet his best role is from behind the striker where he can find pockets of space and thread a pass.

One player likely to benefit from Nasri’s potential arrival is compatriot Niang who makes incisive runs yet doesn’t have the playmaker behind him to spot the runs. If Carlos Bacca is still in Italy come September, a partnership between the two may develop where Nasri becomes the provider for the Colombian hitman.

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Probable: Inter

Unlike their city rivals AC Milan, Inter already have creative players behind the potent Mauro Icardi in Eder and Perisic, while they have also added Antonio Candreva and Ever Banega to their squad. So, signing Nasri is not a must for the Italian club this summer, yet his acquisition could create a formidable attacking line-up allowing them to challenge Juventus next season.

With Banega and Nasri acting as the creative sparks, Kondogbia holding midfield and Perisic and Candreva wide in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Icardi as the spearhead, Inter would have the option to counter-attack with their wide men, or to build up play with intricate passing triangles between the creative Banega, Nasri and Icardi.

With financial backing from Inter’s Asian owners, Nasri’s wages will not be an issue, while rivalling and beating their city neighbours to the signing of the Frenchman may act as a warning sign to all their title rivals. Inter, like most, will know an on song Nasri can be a game-changer.

Long Shot: Staying with City

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To state it as a long-shot certainly fits the bill – Guardiola and Nasri seem to be on entirely different pages. Yet, if the Frenchman portrays a professional attitude he may well come back into Guardiola’s plans as he is a technician, something of which Guardiola likes.

With Raheem Sterling starting the season in fine form, Nolito beginning to settle in and Leroy Sane soon to return from injury, Nasri’s place on the wing is highly contested yet a place behind the striker may be available if Silva picks up an injury. Nasri certainly has the technical capabilities to fulfil a playmaker role in Guardiola’s attacking build-up phase.

If he was to stay at City, Nasri’s main role would most likely be to warm a seat on the bench.

Best option?

A move is needed, as much as fans would hope the Frenchman could stick around and show his talent. With such talent in the City ranks, Nasri’s large pay packet means he’s likely to go.

A move to Inter may also lead to a place on the bench with all the talent available. AC Milan are a team in desperate need of a creative player like Nasri, a player who could help inspire the young Hachim Mastour, a highly rated youngster. If all goes as expected, it may be that Nasri is representing AC Milan come September.


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Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s poor China record should give West Ham cause for concern

The Chilean international looks set to join the Hammers.

Max Cohen

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Pellegrini
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As Manuel Pellegrini inches closer to being named West Ham United’s new manager, many have applauded the potential appointment of a Premier League-winning boss.

With spells at some of the world’s most successful clubs, the Chilean is certainly an impressive acquisition for the Hammers.

Yet Pellegrini’s most recent coaching assignment has been nothing short of mediocre, a sign that should slightly worry West Ham supporters.

Pellegrini officially left Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune on Saturday, after just under two years at the club.

The Chilean was appointed in August 2016 and registered an unspectacular record at the club.

Pellegrini’s first season ended with Hebei in fourth position, yet the club missed out on AFC Champions League qualification by one place.

This year, the team has taken a dramatic step back in the opening months of the season.

(Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images)

Under Pellegrini’s management, Hebei China Fortune currently sit eighth out of the 16-team Chinese Super League.

The side has only picked up just 15 points from 11 matches to date, a disappointing return considering Pellegrini has talents such as Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hernanes, and Gervinho at his disposal.

As the Chinese Super League is a far less important and internationally relevant league than La Liga or the Premier League, Pellegrini can perhaps be forgiven for not taking his job as seriously as his past assignments at Malaga, Real Madrid, and Manchester City.

Yet, his Chinese struggles are worrying nonetheless, as ideally West Ham supporters would like to be acquiring the services of a manager who enjoyed success at his most recent club.

In all, the ex-Manchester City manager still has a Premier League title to his name, a fact that makes his recent tough spell in Asia less concerning.

Nevertheless, Manuel Pellegrini’s underwhelming time at Hebei China Fortune reveals that the manager still possesses flaws and should not be expected to work immediate wonders at West Ham.

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Manchester City

Record-breaking Manchester City show Pep Guardiola was right not to change his philosophy

The Spaniard won his first Premier League title in swashbuckling style.

Martyn Cooke

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Photo: Getty Images

When Pep Guardiola was appointed as manager of Manchester City in the summer of 2016 it is fair to say that his arrival was met with a mixed reaction throughout British football.

First, there was obvious excitement throughout the blue half of Manchester. Guardiola was widely regarded one of the best managers of his generation after trophy-laden spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

He was renowned for the exciting, possession-based style of play that he implemented and the team that he built at the Nou Camp at the start of the twenty-first century produced some of the best football of the modern era.

Then there were the sceptics – and there were plenty of them. The comments were predictable and filled with clichés, unevidenced assumptions and meaningless jargon.

It was suggested that Guardiola had only won trophies with clubs where the race for the title was a two-horse race at best and that he had always inherited world-class players.

Furthermore, it was claimed that the Spaniard’s total-football philosophy would never work in the hustle and bustle of English football.

His technical style of play would come unstuck in the so-called ‘best league in the world’ and would not be effective on a cold, wet Tuesday night at places like Stoke City in front of a tribal, raucous home support.

In his debut season with Manchester City some of the negative predictions appeared to be coming true.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Despite winning all of their opening 10 games of the season under Guardiola, City experienced a poor run of form during the Christmas period that left them trailing their title rivals.

The team were unpredictable and inconsistent during the second half of the campaign and heavy defeats against Everton (4-0) and Leicester City (4-2) left many onlookers wondering if Guardiola had finally been sussed.

The Spaniard never shied away from the critics and he staunchly defended his philosophy despite some poor results and vowed that he would not change his style of play.

City finished the season without a trophy and the sceptics went into the summer proclaiming how they had correctly predicted Guardiola’s failure.

What a difference a year can make.

City’s last-gasp victory against Southampton on the final day of the season rounded off what has been a record-breaking campaign in which Guardiola’s team have swept aside all before them in the Premier League.

The list of achievements is remarkable.

City this season have set new records for most consecutive wins (18), most goals scored (105), most wins (32), most away points won (16), most points (100), the biggest goal difference (+79) and the biggest points gap (19).

Suddenly the sceptics are beginning to look incredibly foolish.

In truth, it is hard to remember a campaign in the modern era where one team has been dominant from start to finish in the way that City have been. Furthermore, not only have the won, but they have won with style.

Guardiola’s playing philosophy has clicked over the last twelve months, undoubtedly aided by effective recruitment during the summer, and the team have played with flair, energy, creativity, pace and innovation.

Opponents, barring perhaps Liverpool, have simply not found any way to combat City’s free-flowing football.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Critics will still point to an early exit in the FA Cup against Wigan Athletic, where City played most of the game with ten men, and defeat in the Champions League to Liverpool, where a poor first half at Anfield effectively ended the tie before it had begun, but the success of Guardiola’s style of play is undoubted.

No one is suggesting that the Spaniard needs to alter his philosophy to meet the demands of the English game anymore.

Instead, it is English football that will need to change in order to meet the challenge of Guardiola’s football revolution.

The concern for other Premier League clubs is that City are threatening to establish themselves as the new dominant force in the domestic game. There is nothing to indicate that Guardiola or the team that he has assembled will be loosening their grip on the Premier League trophy any time soon.

The future is bright. Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, John Stones, Leroy Sane, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Ederson are all under the age of 26. This is a group of players that is still improving and will be hitting the peak years of their career over the next half-a-decade.

Manchester City’s success this season is just the start of what could turn into a period of unrivaled dominance, further underlining that Guardiola was right not to change his philosophy.

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English Premier League

With or without David Moyes, West Ham should target his former player John Stones

West Ham would be wise to swoop on the apparently fragile status of Stones’ Man City career.

Mathew Coull

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Back in 2013 then-Everton boss David Moyes secured the signature of a very highly rated young Yorkshireman named John Stones. The Everton manager signed the teenager from Barnsley for a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £3 million.

The same report suggested Everton fended off interest from the likes of Chelsea, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Manchester City and Wigan Athletic to complete the deal.

Soon enough Stones started earning rave reviews among the Everton fanbase but Moyes himself never got much chance to work with the defender. Moyes left Everton for Manchester United just six months after signing Stones. The youngster then went on to become a regular in the Everton and England defence, eventually earning a move to Manchester City – reportedly worth £47.5 million, according to Sky Sports.

(Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

But this summer, should Moyes consider trying to sign Stones once again.

Despite making big improvements to his game at Manchester City, Stones looks like he could leave The Etihad this summer. The champions signed French defender Aymeric Laporte in the winter and Stones currently finds himself fourth-choice centre-back at the club.

In order to continue improving and maintain his place in the England starting XI, the defender needs to be playing regular football. Moyes, now manager at West Ham United, has the opportunity to offer him just that.

Of course, much of this depends on whether West Ham retain Moyes as manager which, according to The Telegraph, looks increasingly unlikely.

Moyes would no doubt be a big lure for Stones if West Ham were to make a move for the player, clearly as a loan deal considering the vast sum necessary to pry him from City.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

But even if Moyes does go, West Ham should try and bring the England man to the London Stadium.

He could offer a brilliant ball-playing option at the back that West Ham fans would greatly appreciate. His experience of playing at a higher level could also be vital for the development of talented Irishman Declan Rice and in a back-three, often West Ham’s recent choice, Stones is a brilliant central defender.

So, with or without Moyes at West Ham, Stones should be on the radar for the London club this summer.

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