5 players Manchester City may need to replace
It has not gone according to plan for Manchester City so far this season especially in the Premier League. The Cityzens have been unnerved so far with two losses and a draw in the first 8 games leaving them 8 points behind Liverpool.
While it is way too early for the champions of the last two seasons to concede the title, the fact that the initiative has slipped away from them this early would grate on the arch-perfectionist that is Pep Guardiola.
In this regard, he should bear some of the blame. A summer that saw the departure of Vincent Kompany and his considerable influence offered the chance for a change. This chance was spurned and the results have become clear to see.
The long-term injuries to Leroy Sane, John Stones and especially Aymeric Laporte have affected the team, especially in the defensive end. Coupled with the continuing farce that is Benjamin Mendy and his injury record, Guardiola has been unable to field his ideal backline.
There is a need to replace some older members of the team as Father Time has begun to catch up with some of them. Here is a look at 5 players the Cityzens will need to replace sooner or later.
#5 Sergio Aguero
On the face of it, it sounds ridiculous to include El Kun on this list. He has been one of City’s standout performers so far this season with 8 goals already in 8 Premier League games this season.
The Argentine has been sublime since Guardiola rocketed up at the Etihad Stadium with Gabriel Jesus who was touted as his immediate replacement still very much the understudy 3 years after.
However, the 31-year-old’s current contract ends in 2021 and he has made no secret about his desire to return to boyhood club, Independiente in his native Argentina.
This means that next season will be his last in Manchester City colours and as such the club will need to begin making movements to replace him. How do you replace a striker who cost £35m and has plundered 172 goals in 247 Premier League matches?
This is the question that Guardiola and sporting director, Txiki Begiristain that will need to begin thinking of how to fix. In the current climate, City will be well aware that young talents who could replace Aguero could cost in the region of £100m plus
#4 David Silva
El Mago as he is fondly called by the Blue Army faithful at the club has been one of the best midfielders of the Premier League era.
Brought in for £25m in 2010, the Spaniard has been central to the four league title the side has won since then.
His blend of technique, passing, ball playing and skill has helped the side navigate many difficult terrains and trials. However, in what is set to be his last season in the blue jersey, his influence has been nowhere near what it used to be.
De Bruyne is now the undisputed man in the middle for Guardiola’s side while Bernardo Silva has shown that he is more than capable of replacing his namesake in the number 10 role.
Young prospect, Phil Foden has started making sounds about being given chances to prove himself. Getting the England starlet into the side to replace Silva could be a smart play by Guardiola.
His youthfulness and eagerness to get forward with the ball could be a boon for the side currently struggling for form.
#3 Ilkay Gundogan
It’s difficult to say that Gundogan has not been successful in his time at Manchester City.
However, it will not be out of place to say that the German international has not been a key man since he joined the 6-time league winners.
His early time at the club following his £25m move from Borussia Dortmund was notable due to his long absences from matchday squads as a result of injuries.
He has played major roles in the title-winning campaigns but was never an essential part of the team a la Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Laporte, Ederson, Aguero, Yaya Toure, Kompany amongst others
With a contract that ends in 2023 and the expected exits of stalwarts like David Silva, it seems that season could be a good time to move the 28-year-old on and make space for players like Claudio Gomes or Aleix Garcia.
Inter Milan was said to have been interested last season but did not make a formal offer to City. The time has come for the German to move on if the new-look team are to transition properly unlike their near neighbours.
Fernandinho has possibly been the most important player for the Cityzens especially since Guardiola turned up in 2015
The 32-year-old has been the understated glue that has held the team together as his tackling, marking, passing and interceptions have helped the team snuff out many dangerous attacks by the opposition.
The arrival of Rodri in the summer and injuries to central defenders; Laporte and Stones has seen the Brazilian international deputize as an emergency centre-back.
While he clearly has the knowledge/skill to play this role, his lack of pace and being paired with the unreliable Nicolas Otamendi has meant poor displays from the 34-year-old. He was culpable in the 2-0 defeat to Wolves and cannot be relied on to deputize until the injured duo are back.
The time has come to let him go come end-of-season although there are rumours that he could extend for another season. Young Croatian, Ante Palavasera looks to be the only prospect the club currently has that could be a replacement.
#1 Nicolas Otamendi
Once Laporte and Stones are back in the team, it will almost certainly mean the end of the road for the Argentine warrior.
How the former Valencia star has become a parody is one of the more baffling backward transformations in football recently.
Overcommitting in tackles, rash, headstrong and with zero sense of awareness, he has become a gift that has kept on giving; to Manchester City’s opponents. It was thought during the summer that he would join Kompany out of the club but somehow, he stayed on.
January cannot come soon enough for the powers-that-be at the Etihad Stadium with it almost certain that the 31-year-old will either leave the club or be relegated to a substitute role similar to the one he endured last season.
Martin Skriniar, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake have been the names mentioned in the press as the likely candidates to replace the departed Kompany. One of Eric Garcia or England’s U-17 captain, Taylor Harwood-Bellis set to battle for the fourth centre-back berth.
This means Adios for Otamendi and to be honest, it is one that has been long in coming.