This is a post written by Will Harrison.
When Pep Guardiola took charge at Manchester City last summer, fans were excited about how one of the world’s leading managers would impose his playing philosophy on a squad in decline. £180 million may have been spent, but that question is yet to be answered. The upcoming summer transfer window will prove crucial for Pep, as he will no longer be settling into his job and will be expected to deliver the results that his reputation promised.
A favourite analysis of commentators when Guardiola arrived was to look through City’s squad and dismiss certain players with the summary “he’s not a Guardiola type of player.” Guardiola is legendary for his meticulous approach to tactics and his dedication to a philosophy of how to play the game. Any players lacking notable technical characteristics or a strong work-rate were expected to be out of the door quicker than you could say “Wilfried Bony.”
Yaya Toure will be exiting the Etihad in the summer and he will probably be joined by another veteran of Manchester, Pablo Zabaleta. Guardiola has used these two players on occasion this season, but you sense they have been deployed as stop-gaps until “Guardiola-type players” with fresher legs can be brought in. Like Zabaleta, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna do not seem like Guardiola’s ideal full-backs for next season.
Fernando and Jesus Navas are two more who could depart Manchester this summer. Fernando is a combative midfielder but lacks the finesse and vision to comfortably slot into Guardiola’s high-pressing strategy. Navas has been one of the many players to try their best at playing right-back this season, but this does not feel like a long-term solution and his contract expires in the summer. As sprightly as Navas is, his end product has been a question mark hanging over his head during his time in England.
Even Guardiola’s signings from last summer may not be exempt from the exodus. Claudio Bravo and John Stones are likely to be saved based on previous form and potential respectively, but both have endured seasons rife with mistakes. Nolito arrived from Celta Vigo but he has been used sparingly due to the form of Sergio Aguero and, briefly, Gabriel Jesus. At 30 years of age, now might be the best time to sell Nolito.
All of these departures will need to be replaced. It will be interesting to see what sort of budget Guardiola will be afforded, and even more interesting to see the calibre of player he can attract. Some big names have already been touted, although last summer many expected Guardiola to bring in an array of superstars. This summer could be the one to deliver some of the leading players in the world to the Etihad.
An unsettled Alexis Sanchez could swell the ranks of Arsenal players to migrate to Manchester, and his world-class ability would make this the sorest transfer yet for the Gunners. Manchester City definitely look to be in the hunt to acquire the Chilean’s signature and those looking to bet may want to consider the best offers from a range of bookmakers, some of whom are offering odds of 5/2 for Sanchez to join Guardiola’s side.
Leonardo Bonucci is a possibility to become the defensive leader that City have sought since Kompany’s injury problems, whilst David Alaba may want to be reunited with his former coach. Full-back and centre-back are positions that Guardiola will have to address.
None of those players will be cheap, but it is a sizable price that top clubs have to pay to secure top talent. Many of the departures may well be free transfers, and it will be a pivotal season for Guardiola next year when his expensive replacements must deliver the goods.