There is a certain scenario which may turn into reality this summer if recent media reports are to be believed – one in which Pep Guardiola attempts to emulate current media darling Mauricio Pochettino by putting an English core into his senior playing squad.
It’s not that hard to imagine.
The following signings would not break the bank, would have the crucial added bonus of being homegrown and equally significantly, they are players who are attuned to the rigours of the Premier League and would therefore not require a lengthy settling in period like many foreign imports.
- Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford (Sunderland, 23 years) – Replacing Claudio Bravo
Although a certain caution is required when evaluating goalkeepers in relegation-threatened clubs, Pickford could be acquired for a realistic fee from Sunderland who are already down to the Championship. He will surely not follow them there and some club is going to get a bargain. Nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year, Jordan Pickford has been quite heavily linked with a move to the Blues.
Left Back: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton, 27 years) – Replacing Gael Clichy
City have been associated with numerous star left backs at potentially extortionate prices (see my article here) and it is hard to imagine that any of those linked would not be a significant upgrade on Clichy. One name mentioned is Ryan Bertrand who showed in our recent game against the Saints that he has a lot to offer. He has been linked again here.
Right Back: Kyle Walker (Tottenham, 26 years) – Replacing Pablo Zabaleta
Amongst several names at Tottenham linked with a move to Manchester City, Kyle Walker is the latest and possibly the likeliest. Why? Spurs have a ready-made replacement in Kieran Trippier for whom Walker was benched in the recent North London Derby. Apparently Walker has not reacted too well to his omission and a player-coach bust-up allegedly ensued that you can read about here.
Midfield: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal, 23 years) – Replacing Fernando
Pep likes nothing if not versatility. O-C can play well on the right flank but has also lately shown that he has great potential through the centre of midfield.
Verdict From The Blue
This set of summer transfers, together with say, Bonucci and Bernardo Silva, would make a huge difference to City’s identity.
Walker, Bertrand, Pickford and Oxlade-Chamberlain would then join Stones, Sterling, Delph and the surely returning Patrick Roberts in forming our English heart and the 8 homegrown stars needed to satisfy the F.A. quota. (Assuming Gunn and Denayer go out on loan, Hart & Mooy are sold and Clichy is not re-signed.)
The result would be a younger squad, full of energy yet seasoned and experienced in the league.
With Guardiola as conductor, we could see a line-up next season involving an experienced spine flanked with youth and vigour yet real depth on the bench that might look something like this:
Walker – Kompany – Otamendi – Bertrand
KDB – Silva
G.Jesus -Aguero -Sane
(Squad: Pickford, Kolarov, Stones, Fernandinho, Toure, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Alexis, Delph)