Manchester City have been the most dominant side in the Premier League in recent years by some distance. They have won five Premier League titles in the last decade, including three of the last four on offer. Their perennial hold on the League Cup looks unbreakable while they have also picked up two FA Cups during this time.
Will they reign supreme again? 🔵 pic.twitter.com/PLmBnkVYcr
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 15, 2021
Since the arrival of Pep Guardiola in 2016, City have been rampaging against opponents with one of the best squads assembled in world football. The star names across all positions of the pitch have been influential in the club being tipped to defend their league title in the upcoming season. Guardiola is a supremely talented manager who has been able to get the best out of his side for years.
🏆 Pep Guardiola has been named as @PremierLeague Manager of the Season!
😅 Just another one for the trophy cabinet! pic.twitter.com/qRqcTzqE2U
— SPORF (@Sporf) June 5, 2021
However, with all this success comes the natural question of who gets the most game-time. Indeed, not all the big players can have an equal playing field as a tinkering team rarely wins in this manner. With that in mind, FootTheBall looks at three players who the Cityzens can afford to offload without compromising on their quality too much.
The Brazilian striker can be best described as an “enigma.” One cannot quite fathom which version is going to show up on match-day. Jesus has the ability to score from anywhere on the pitch, is a predator inside the penalty box while combining efficient running and heading. On the other hand, he can also go invisible during games with barely getting a kick at goal before being hauled off unceremoniously.
95 – Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 95 goals in his 114 starts in all competitions for Manchester City (73 goals, 22 assists), scoring eight and assisting one more in his last 10 starts. Impressive. #FULMCI pic.twitter.com/q4NG4WURtV
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 13, 2021
That sort of reputation has dogged him all throughout his City career. Joining in 2016 which was the same year Guardiola came in, Jesus has not been a consistent performer in his five seasons. His highest number of starts in the league came last term with 22 as Sergio Aguero was slowly being sidelined by the manager. Those 22 times leading the line from the start only produced nine goals and four assists. That is simply not what one can expect from a top-class striker at a club which wins trophies every year.
With Sergio Aguero set to leave Manchester City when his contract expires next summer, the idea was for Gabriel Jesús to be the replacement, but he has not found ‘consistency’.
Pep Guardiola needs to decide Jesus is the man to bank on moving forward.
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) March 27, 2020
Furthermore, the surest indicator of Jesus not replacing Aguero as the club’s next main main became evident over the course of the past year. Instead of giving Jesus the nod, Guardiola played no striker, reverting to a ‘false 9’ with Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne interchanging in the central role. That change in system led the club to the Champions League final with impressive victories over PSG. The final nail in the coffin comes from City’s own transfer approach this term.
— Manchester City News (@ManCityMEN) July 12, 2021
They are gunning to sign Harry Kane from Spurs, and have had a bid turned down already. If Kane arrives, Jesus will certainly not be starting more than 10 games maximum next term. That is something no ambitious marksman would want and it makes sense for City to sell the player now. They have enough resources for goals even without Kane with contributors all over the pitch. The club is certainly going to take a loss on the original fee of around £30 million but they can still get get upwards of £20 million if he joins a top club.
This is a case of misfortune and opportunity for both player and club. City signed Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for £57 million in January 2018 and he immediately established himself as a starter. Due to his left-footed mastery and positional sense in command of the back-line, Laporte made 35 appearances in the league in his first full season. Along with the Cityzens racking up 100 points on the back of some stout defending, Laporte also managed three goals and three assists.
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) January 30, 2021
However, that was as good as it got for the Spanish centre-back. He got surgery done on his right knee in the following off-season that caused him to miss the start of the campaign. Even though he returned as a starter, featuring 15 times, this past year has not gone according to plan. A mix of injuries and poor form led to his benching after a dismal 2-0 defeat to Spurs in November. Since then, he only featured 11 more times in the league and was most often found in the domestic cup competitions where his goal in the final against Spurs handed City the League Cup.
MONSIEUR AYMERIC LAPORTE 🇫🇷💙💙💙💙💙 @Laporte
— Manchester City (@ManCityFra) April 25, 2021
The upcoming season does not look promising either for Laporte, with John Stones and Ruben Dias set to start. The former had an excellent Euros while the latter won Premier League Player of the Year in his first season in England. This is where the sense of opportunity for moving on Laporte comes in. Making his debut for Spain before Euro 2020 after switching nationalities, Laporte was a shining light for La Roja in their surprising run to the semi-finals.
71 – Aymeric Laporte completed 71 of his 79 passes against Portugal 🇵🇹 (89.9% accuracy), the second most by a defender on his debut for Spain 🇪🇸 in the last decade (Mario Hermoso completed 95 from 103 against Bosnia 🇧🇦 in November 2018). Quality. pic.twitter.com/wQ6j4unfBh
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 6, 2021
He appeared in all of their games and showcased efficient passing skills as well as a nous for knowing when to tackle. The time is right for City to sell off Laporte, as a left-sided centre back is always an asset. There will certainly be suitors from overseas for the player if City were to sell, and they also have a replacement already present in Nathan Ake. Out of the players who can bring in funds for the club, Laporte is one of the top bets.
CHANGE OF SCENERY
One of the choices that City may probably have to make this summer is whether to sell Raheem Sterling or Silva. That question rises from the club’s ever-increasing hunger for trophies and of course, that elusive Champions League crown. If Guardiola really is serious about signing both Kane and Jack Grealish as is being reported a lot, one of these two current wingers have to go.
Bernardo Silva has provided more Premier League assists in 2021 than any other player so far…🅰️
Six and counting. pic.twitter.com/j683qmhteu
— Marathonbet (@marathonbet) April 22, 2021
The difference might boil down to their performance at the recently concluded Euros. Sterling was a star for England as they made it all the way to the final, scoring three times. On the other hand, Silva had a poor time with the Selecao as they crashed out at the round-of-16 stage. The Portuguese has been a fan-favorite at the Etihad since his arrival in 2017, playing a pivotal role in their domestic treble season of 2018-19 with 13 goals and 14 assists in all competitions.
Bernardo Silva this season 🔥
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) June 9, 2019
However, the last season was not the greatest for him in terms of game-time. The explosive emergence of Phil Foden seems certain to sideline one of the more veteran pros, while new signing Ferran Torres had a brilliant debut campaign along with fantastic showings at Euro 2020. Furthermore, Riyad Mahrez is finally looking like coming into his own on the right wing and City are spoilt for choice in that department. Another factor tipping the scales towards Silva’s exit is that he might be the slightly cheaper option for clubs out of the present players.
— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) June 9, 2021
Barcelona were said to be seriously interested last term before the deal fell through in the closing stages. Though the Blaugrana will certainly not be renewing their interest, a few solid offers should arrive if he does go on the market. His £43.5 million transfer fee of 2018 might be a stretch but any team signing the fleet-footed playmaker will surely improve their attacking richness.
Manchester City are already well-placed to mount a successful title defence due to the nature of their squad and one of the world’s best coaches. Even if any or all the players on this list leave and they are not replaced, that should still be enough to win next term. However, the club is always on the lookout for the best buys and with money being no issues, one can expect them to sign at least one new player before the season kicks off next month.