There’s no doubt that Manchester City‘s Catalan hierarchy together with Chief Executive Khaldoon Al Mubarak will not be resting on their laurels having just won the 2017-2018 Premier League. Undoubtedly there have already been several sit-downs, not least in the January transfer window to ascertain to what extent this team can be augmented to defend their title next season.
We know already that it had been their desire to try to avoid expensive summer auctioning for top class European talent by seeking to secure the services of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester and Fred from Spartak Moscow. As we know, The Foxes priced the Algerian out of the market citing lack of time to secure an alternative. Similarly, the Moscow side appeared to give the same reasons for not parting with Fred, at that time feeling that they could make greater progress in the Champions’ League than they ultimately did.
There was also the Alexis Sanchez extravaganza which ended in the Chilean‘s move to Stretford for a King’s ransom – an agent-inspired gazumping that seems to have left the team from just outside Manchester with no little egg on their faces.
Sanchez has been hugely disappointing. Mourinho has failed to integrate him into his side and Alexis‘ main contribution to the Premiership this season lies in a humiliating and unwanted record number of dispossessions.
Pep and Txixi will feel that they have dodged a bullet and that any misgivings they may have had about a Rodney Marsh-type effect on squad morale have been justified.
What will be in the collective mindset in the City boardroom when it comes to next season? Khaldoon will remember well what happened with Mancini. Following 93:20, the Italian was desperate for reinforcements and upgrades that he did not get. Robin Van Persie went to Stretford and won United the title whilst the similarly coveted Edinson Cavani stayed put at Napoli.
It won’t be lost on the City higher-ups what constituted a significant factor in the continued success of Sir Alex Ferguson – the conviction to repeatedly strengthen from a position of strength. Old Baconface abjured sentimentality for any player however much the fans adored him and had a canny knack of identifying the onset of the law of diminishing returns.
Guardiola will certainly be looking at the older members of the squad and whether he really has adequate cover to provide for their rotation.
He has already said that David Silva will need to be rotated next term and if that goes for new Daddy, then it must also go for the other relative oldsters: Kompany, Otamendi, Aguero and Fernandinho.
We know for sure that cover for Fernandinho is the top priority especially with the departure of Yaya Toure. Fred has been seen as the top target but recent reports suggest that the Brazilian has an agent from the same school as that of Alexis Sanchez i.e. willing to provoke a bidding war between Guardiola and Mourinho for the optimum financial return both for him and his client.
But as we know, Pep don’t play that.
This is why we now have a lengthy cast of alternatives: Weigl, Seri, Milinkovic-Savic, Emre Can & Jorginho – most of whom are also also linked with United.
We also know sure-as-dammit that one more attacking midfielder is incoming. On the right side of midfield both Sterling & Bernardo Silva excel but there is no obvious alternative to Leroy Sane on the left. Perhaps with the return of Benjamin Mendy, Pep doesn’t quite see it like this, however it’s no secret that he will look to strengthen his extravagant attack force to try to avoid those infuriating and quite common episodes of profligacy that did for us in The Derby and in two halves of the CL tie against The Bus Vandalisers.
The auditioning cast for this spot seems to include Mahrez, Hazard & (inevitably) Isco.
However other intriguing puzzles remain, namely:
Is there a case for specialist LB cover? As successful as Delph and Zinchenko have been, can they cut it at the sharp end of The Champions League should we get there next season?
It’s not often a man like Toby Alderweireld comes on the market. Arguably the best central defender in the league and clearly on his way out of Tottenham, our defence would look a lot more secure with him on board. After all Adarabioyo will surely go on loan, Vinnie will likely be a bit part performer and John Stones still has much to do to convince many that he can be Kompany‘s successor.
Is there also a case for the return for the hugely impressive Pablo Maffeo who has come on leaps and bounds at Girona? Not saying we need to dump Danilo but this might be the time to blood the young Spaniard.
Will the 35 year-old Claudio Bravo be content with his role as second fiddle to Eddie. The word is that the man once dubbed The Hologram has a settled and happy family in the North West. Has he really lost that desire to be number one – a position he could certainly achieve at several other clubs, especially in Spain or back home?
Another recurrent theme that will just not die concerns Sergio. Out for the rest of the season to recover from arthroscopic surgery and to prepare for The World Cup, there are many who would be unsurprised if Aguero had in fact played his last game in a sky blue shirt. It’s been a while since Pep jettisoned one of our heroes (Joe Hart). Could he be about to do it again?
Some believe that PSG will not be able to hold on to both Neymar and Mbappe now that the FFP witch-hunters are preparing an inquisition for the Qataris. We are told Neymar is going nowhere. Pep has long coveted Mbappe. City have yet to sign a truly marquee player. So…
In-comings & Out-goings may well turn out to be a little more extensive than City are letting on…
What do you think, Blues?
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