In February, the announcement of Pep Guardiola’s impending arrival in East Manchester brought around waves of excitement about the big money signings that would be arriving at Manchester City. Many of the big names have been linked, but so far City’s transfer business has been calculated with Ilkay Gundogan, Nolito and Oleksandr Zinchenko all putting pen to paper for fairly modest fees.
There has also been talk of departures, with Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Aleksandar Kolarov all being linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium at one point or another over the past month. So, whilst the new manager hasn’t engaged in the mass spending that some thought he would do, there is still another month and a half before the transfer window closes and it is likely that two or three more new signings will be made over that period. But what areas of the squad does Guardiola really need to strengthen, and who will he sign in order to do so?
In Joe Hart, Manchester City possess one of the best goalkeepers in the world on his day. Yes, he can be a liability at times (see Iceland’s second goal against England last month), but his performances in Europe over the last few seasons have been nothing short of heroic. There had originally been talk of Guardiola bringing in Manuel Neuer, but it is highly unlikely that the German international will be prised away from Bayern Munich any time soon. In the long-term, the Spaniard may have plans for a new goalkeeper but right now it should not be his priority, and it would be foolish of him to replace one of the most popular members of the squad at this point in his tenure.
As many close followers of City over the past two years would attest to, the defence is the part of the squad that most requires a shake-up. The signing of Eliaquim Mangala simply hasn’t worked and Guardiola should look to off-load him in order to make room for reinforcements. Fellow centre-back Vincent Kompany looks set to stay, despite his ongoing injury problems and rumours of interest from Turkish champions Besiktas. If the 30-year-old can keep himself fit for the majority of the season then he will surely prove to be hugely influential under the new manager.
With Kolorov and Zabaleta looking as though they may be moved on this summer, City will presumably be in the market for a full-back or two. Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy have been solid if unspectacular and Guardiola will surely have plans to replace the pair over the next year or two. Clichy’s tendency to lose concentration at important times is the main reason why he will never be amongst the world’s best in his position, and at 30 the answer surely lies elsewhere if City are to become a true European force.
Expect to see one or two defenders arriving at the Etihad over the course of the window, with John Stones being the most heavily linked of the supposed targets that Guardiola is looking at. The Everton defender certainly fits the profile of player that City are likely to look at, and whilst he is prone to the odd mistake, he is a player who could benefit immensely from working under the former Barcelona boss.
As far as out and out midfielders go, the signing of Gundogan was a good start, with the 25-year-old adding further quality to the existing midfield options. Fabian Delph, Fernandinho and Fernando will presumably stay with the club, and whilst none are ever likely to be capable of playing at the level that City supporters aspire to, Guardiola will see them as efficient squad players who he may look to get rid of next summer.
City are well-equipped in the attacking midfield department, particularly with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, and the two are sure to be pivotal to Manchester City yet again this season. Whilst Silva is now 30, he is still one of the Premier League’s best and he is likely to relish the prospect of playing under his fellow countryman, whose philosophy matches that of the player himself.
The chances of Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure remaining at the club also seem good at this moment in time, so whilst Toni Kroos has been linked with a move to the Etihad it seems highly unlikely that Guardiola will move for the Real Madrid man, or any other midfielders for that matter.
The addition of Spanish winger Nolito offers City something slightly different down the left hand side. The 29-year-old could be described as something of a ‘street footballer’, and will presumably go up against Raheem Sterling and Silva for a spot in the starting eleven. Strikers Sergio Aguero and Kelechi Iheanacho are sure to be a part of Guardiola’s plans, but the future looks slightly less clear for Wilfried Bony. The Ivorian has struggled ever since his move from Swansea City 18 months ago, and will probably be shifted on before the window shuts next month. If he is not deemed to be a part of the new manager’s plans then a new striker is likely to arrive at the Etihad Stadium in his place.
City are currently chasing Schalke winger Leroy Sane and his arrival would mean competition for Jesus Navas, who himself could be on the move if Guardiola decides he is not the sort of player to fit his system. City are clearly in the market for a right winger, with Sane looking like the main target, and expect him to be joined by a striker before the window is up. If Aguero gets injured this season then all of the responsibility will be on the shoulders of Iheanacho, who at 19 has a huge future but cannot be expected to be as influential as Aguero consistently is.
Jose Mourinho has also arrived on the other side of the city this summer, in what is a hugely exciting time to be a football supporter in Manchester. Guardiola will be looking to establish his dominance from the start, and for that reason it is crucial that he signs the right players. He will probably look to bring in four or five more players this transfer window, with a centre-back certainly being the priority. Of course, a lot depends on which players he decides aren’t part of his plans and he will want to get a good look at many of them in training over the coming weeks. One thing is for sure, however, and that is that the real fun is only just beginning for Manchester City fans.
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