Will Manchester City shop in Serie A this summer?
Manchester City may need a re-building process this summer. We look at whether the boss Pep Guardiola can find the answers in Serie A.
Manchester City may need a re-building process this summer.
David Silva, so crucial to their last four title wins, is retiring while Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero, similarly influential, are approaching their twilight years.
Throw in a below-par defence and the likely departure of Leroy Sane as well as injury concerns over Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne, and Pep Guardiola has to do a lot of work to inspire a return to domestic dominance.
We look at whether the Catalan coach can find the answers in Serie A.
If anything happens to Ederson Moraes, like the injury we saw him pick up in the match against Liverpool in September 2017, City need a reserve goalkeeper who can deputize effectively.
Claudio Bravo has proven not to be that man and the veteran is expected to depart this summer and while Daniel Grimshaw has talent, he has been on loan at Hemel Hemstead Town – becoming City’s number two would be a huge step up.
Fiorentina, who are underachieving in Serie A, possess 22-year-old Bartlomiej Dragowski, who has made 80 saves in 26 games.
Aymeric Laporte’s injury problems have been a huge factor behind City’s below-par 2019-20 campaign.
It hardly helps, too, that Nicolas Otamendi is rather slow – the 32-year-old is expected to depart this summer – and John Stones is yet to prove himself as a world-class centre-back.
These issues have seen Fernandinho deputize in the rear-guard and while the Brazilian can do a job for the odd game, he is not a viable long-term solution.
Torino’s Kevin Bonifazi is statistically the best performing defender in Serie A and, at 23, has plenty of growth left in him.
Benjamin Mendy can be a fantastic left-back.
The Frenchman brings pace, thrust and width to City’s attacking play, as well as a high standard of low crosses from the byline.
The problem, though, is that Mendy’s conduct has at times been questionable – the 25-year-old does not always fit into the controlled environment that Pep Guardiola wants to create.
His defensive positioning can be erratic, too, so someone like Torino’s Ola Aina could enhance City’s options in that department.
Fernandinho is likely to play fewer minutes next season – and he may still deputize at centre-back for the odd game – while Ilkay Gundogan’s time at the Etihad may have run its course.
For these reasons, there is a lot of pressure on Rodrigo Hernández Cascante to up his game next season, after a mixed debut term.
Aleix Garcia, who has been on loan this season at Royal Excel Mouscron, could step up, if City cannot attract the impressive Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus (of whom also has attracted interest from Arsenal).
Leroy Sane’s season has been plagued by injuries and contract uncertainty, with the German’s current deal set to expire in 2021 – Bayern Munich have been linked with a move this summer.
Although Sane has undoubted pace and quality, top managers have the ruthlessness to dismiss great players when they are giving 99%, rather than 100% – that type of mentality is required from Guardiola if City are to overtake Liverpool next season.
Felipe Anderson, who recently compared Serie A and the Premier League when talking to the online betting company Betway would be an option – the Brazilian would not look out of place in City’s side.
Aguero is an all-time Manchester City legend and he has been a huge part of the club’s rise to English football’s elite – there is even a ‘moment’ named after him!
It seems plausible that the club, keen to ensure that Aguero’s time reaches a respectful and dignified conclusion, will honour the wish he might have to end his career in his home country of Argentina.
The bigger question, though, is who will take on Aguero’s mantle?
Gabriel Jesus (still behind Aguero in the pecking order) has been primed for the role for the last three years but, as the 31-year-old finds himself fit to play fewer minutes, City need to find a third-choice striker who can become second-choice.
Blues might already have that striker in their ranks – Liam Delap is reportedly the most exciting front-man to come from their academy in decades – but the Winchester-born wonder is still only 17 and City could weigh up their options in the market.
Arkadiusz Milik, who has scored nine goals in 14 this season for Napoli, is one option – although City would need to beat the competition of Tottenham and Arsenal.
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