So, after the most successful season for a generation, the need for change at Manchester City is less than usual. The buying policy of aiming young means that there are plenty of opportunities for existing players to develop further to improve an already excellent side. However, with talk of players leaving and the constant need to strengthen backed up by City’s wealth, there should still be plenty of activity over the summer months on the transfer front.
In defense, we have probably seen the biggest success for Manchester City last season, with the joint best defence in the Premier League, along with Chelsea. That stat alone suggests that this is one area of the pitch City will not be making wholesale changes over the summer. But, inevitably there will be comings and goings over the summer, as City look to strengthen further with Champions League football next season meaning a strong squad is more important than ever.
In the goalkeeping department, there may well be no purchases or sales this summer. The Number One spot is certainly clear. Joe Hart, with an all-time clean sheet record for a single season for a City keeper under his belt and the Premier League’s Golden Glove award also won, is set to be England’s Number One for many years.
At the end of the season, we would have put our mortgage on Shay Given leaving – out for months with a shoulder injury, he was always going to be Number Two to Joe Hart, and a summer departure seemed inevitable, which one would not begrudge. But recent mumblings suggest he is considering staying, which would be surprising, but excellent news.
Stuart Taylor, the third choice keeper, will no doubt stay and remain third choice.
In the outfield areas, there will surely be one position to be strengthened – namely central defense. Vincent Kompany is many fans’ player of the season, and a rock in the Centre, but it seems Roberto Mancini is keen to provide him with a new partner next season. This seems rather unfortunate for Joleon Lescott, who played as Kompany’s partner for much of the second half of the season, and barely put a foot wrong. Nevertheless, all the rumors suggest the purchase of Gary Cahill from Bolton is imminent.
Elsewhere, the right-back position is secure too with a resurgent Micah Richards and the legendary Pablo Zabaletta vying for the spot, but the left-back position is less so, after a disappointing debut season for Aleksander Kolarov. Rumors are also abound of a possible bid for Everton’s Leighton Baines!
As for exits, there is little secret in the fact that Jerome Boateng wishes to move to Bayern Munich, and he already appears to have agreed personal terms. The two clubs’ valuation of the player seems to be worlds apart, but expect the move to go through eventually.
Elsewhere, the future is uncertain for the likes of Dedryck Boyata and Nedum Onuoha, who spent the season on loan at Sunderland, and also the forgotten man that is Wayne Bridge.
As for the academy products, the likes of Shaleum Logan, Scott Kay, Greg Cunningham, Ryan McGivern and Reece Wabara are unlikely to be prominent in first teams next season, except perhaps in the Cup and sometimes filling up the odd bench spot, with loan moves aplenty the more common path. Three other youngsters are on loan at the moment – it’s too early to say if any will break through to the first team.
If the likes of Bridge, Boyata etc leave permanently, then Mancini will have to buy to provide cover in defence – but any purchases are unlikely to be big names, more youth-orientated, and players with good prospects.
Like the defense, the midfield looks fairly settled, so we wouldn’t expect huge changes over the summer.
The likes of David Silva, Yaya Touré, James Milner, Nigel De Jong and Gareth Barry aren’t be going anywhere, and would see plenty of first team action next season. This doesn’t leave much room for many others.
As for Adam Johnson – Will the jury always be out on this player? Mancini isn’t convinced by him, that’s for sure. On the surface, he is an excellent wide player, with good ball control, pace and dribbling skills. And while he has proved to be an excellent impact sub, his performances when starting a match have flattered to deceive, and the manager is apparently not totally impressed with his attitude. With time on his side, there is little doubt he will remain at City next season, but has plenty of work to do to break into the first team. As for Shaun Wright Phillips, the sad decline in his career continues! One would be surprised if he stays, but wages as always may be an issue for other clubs, so who knows? Patrick Vieira, looks to be a summer exit – he spoke last month about the uncertainty over his future, and it appears City have included his name on a list of released/out of contract players.
Michael Johnson, the forgotten man of Manchester City’s midfield will probably leave the club soon too. Such a shame, and such a waste of a great talent, but there seems little chance of a career at City anymore.
As for the midfield youth players – Abdisalam Ibrahim, Abdul Razak and Vladimir Weiss are the three youth midfield players with squad numbers. Like in other areas of the pitch, it is hard to see them making much of an impact on the first team in the near-future. But with plenty of games likely to be played each season, there should be the odd opportunity. Weiss especially stood out of the three when he was seen destroying Chelsea in the Youth Cup final three years ago. A tricky wide player, he doesn’t seem to have excelled on loan at Rangers, and one wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave permanently. He is being linked with the Alexis Sanchez deal (see below).
So what will Mancini do this summer? we have to say, not very much! De Jong, Touré and Silva provide a very strong trio in the midfield, and add to that one of Barry and Milner and it has a settled look to it. Mancini will probably look at extra width, and Alexis Sanchez was said to be on his way (does he count as a midfielder though?!). By the time this article is published, he could still be a Udinese player, a Manchester City player, a Manchester United player, or preferably for him it seems (but not for them) a Barcelona player. If City fail to get him, they are bound to look elsewhere for a wide player.
Otherwise, again the priority may be to buy for the future, and buy potential – the only exception may be to buy an all-rounder midfielder to contest Barry’s spot, and maybe a creative midfielder as back-up to Silva. Palermo’s Javier Pastore would be a dream signing, though rather unlikely, and City continue to be linked to virtually everyone, the best being Luka Modric. But with City’s chairman saying that spending would not be widespread, perhaps Mancini will allow his midfield to develop further and leave it largely as it is.
The most unsettled area of the team, it could be an interesting summer regarding ins and outs for forward players. With one outstanding success story in that area of the pitch, it has been a mixed bag for the other strikers in the squad.
There was a theory held about Carlos Tevez, namely that the second he withdrew his transfer request in December, many smelt a rat (being naturally cynical). It seemed that a deal had been struck. Withdraw your transfer request, buckle down and play, and we won’t stand in your way in the summer – but we are not letting you go mid-season, and that is that.
As was expected, transfer rumours aplenty have sprung up recently regarding Tevez – this is no surprise, regardless of whether he intends to leave, but the truth is few expected him to stay more than 2 or 3 seasons, he is not the sort of person to stick to one club, and whilst it will obviously be a huge loss to City, they will move on, and play a system that will hopefully suit the remaining strikers better. Whether he stays is as uncertain as ever, and he may well remain on the basis that no one can afford him rather than due to his own desire.
Elsewhere, Edin Dzeko has had a difficult start to his City career, but certainly won’t be going anywhere. Mario Balotelli has hit the headlines often for the wrong reasons, but again will be an important part of City’s attack next season
As for Jo, the day he leaves the club there will be the sound of 20,000 corks popping simultaneously around the Manchester area.
And let’s not forget Craig Bellamy – On loan at Cardiff, he has made noises recently about returning in the summer – he does not appear to see his future at Cardiff. We do doubt it will be at City either, especially if Mancini is still the manager next season.
In a similar position is Emmanuel Adebayor! He desperately wanted to make his loan move to Real Madrid permanent, but their option to buy has just expired and he will not be staying there. He could stay at City, stranger things have happened, but would expect that if City can offload him, then they will. The same goes for Roque Santa Cruz. City will no doubt be desperate to get rid of him, and will take the inevitable hit on the transfer fee – No future at City.
As for the biggest forgotten man of them all, step forward Felipe Caicedo. Another City forward who hides his talents well, the Ecuadorian has been banging them in for Levante, scoring 11 goals in 17 games. Expect a cut-price deal to be arranged in the summer. The last news doing the rounds was that Levante have a clause to buy him for around a million pounds, and then will immediately sell him on for about five times that amount.
If none of City’s strikers were to leave in the summer, we would still expect City to buy someone, but only as back up. If Tevez were to leave, they will aim bigger, for the likes of Aguero, or a swathe of Italian-based players. Aguero is being rather optimistic however!
City’s buying policy in the summer is hard to ascertain – it depends partly on the mindset of Tevez and getting rid of a lot of players that are surplus to requirements. With City desperate to break even over the next few years, Mancini and co, will be hoping that the Academy’s expansion will soon start pushing players through to the first team in every department. In fact, City’s only signing so far is Celta Vigo’s 17 year old Denis Suarez. However, for this summer at least there will be considerable funds available, so expect investment in a central defender, a left-back, a wide player along with youth players to add to the strength of the squad.
The Article has been written by Guest Author – Howard Hockin
Follow the author on Twitter @howiehok34
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