Pep Guardiola always makes his mark when arriving at a club. Some of his decisions are ruthless and often unpopular among fans, but the end result is usually a successful, well-oiled footballing machine. A run to the Champions League semi-final will not fool Pep, who will be fully aware of just how much work needs to be done at Manchester City.
According to Catalan newspaper SPORT, the overhaul is likely to be extensive and on par with what Pep did when he took over at Barcelona. They list eleven players who are on the ‘casualty list’ – not guaranteed to go, but in serious danger – and six targets emerging as the players Guardiola wants to rejuvenate an ailing squad.
Those at risk are familiar names, although it may surprise some to see Sagna and Clichy on there after solid seasons. SPORT believe all four of the club’s full-backs could be at risk this summer. The full list of those who could depart the Etihad is as follows:
– Willy Caballero (34)
– Richard Wright (38)
– Martín Demichelis (35)
– Gaël Clichy (30)
– Aleksandar Kolarov (30)
– Bacary Sagna (33)
– Pablo Zabaleta (31)
– Yaya Touré (32)
– Fernando (28)
– Samir Nasri (28)
– Wilfried Bony (27)
Guardiola wants to ‘completely change the personality of the team’ and has already instructed Txiki Begiristain on who to sign according to this bold report by SPORT. Soriano and Begiristain have promised Guardiola ‘complete freedom to impose his football philosophy’ and will not stand in his way, no matter how ruthless he has to be.
Many of the names are familiar and have been linked for months, but there are a couple of less familiar players on the list.
– Aymeric Laporte (21, Athletic Bilbao): The tall and elegant defender is reportedly very close to joining City despite recovering from a serious injury. He denied anything is agreed in an emotional tweet days ago, but it was a message that did not rule out a departure. City will pay his £39.2 million release clause ‘without flinching’ according to the Barcelona-based newspaper.
– John Stones (21, Everton): City had planned to sign just one centre-back to partner Vincent Kompany, but have now decided on two after injuries have massacred the Belgian. One of English football’s brightest young talents, Stones has come under much criticism this season, but is still admired by big clubs who view his dip in form as temporary and something that can be fixed with good coaching. SPORT say a deal for Stones will be more complicated than one for Laporte, as Everton already turned down a huge offer from Chelsea last summer.
– Paul Pogba (23, Juventus): Juve chief Beppe Marotta came out yesterday and revealed that the club turned away City last season when they asked for Pogba. He went on to declare that Pogba is still not on the market, although there are other reports that Juve want an answer within 20 days from Pogba to understand if he plans to stay. City have a ‘clear advantage’ according to SPORT with their financial muscle, Pep Guardiola, and a more competitive league than PSG, who also admire the French midfielder.
– Héctor Bellerín (21, Arsenal): The former Barcelona youngster has been ‘followed closely for months by City’ and is one of the full-backs Pep would like to add some pace and zip on the flanks. However, with Arsenal almost certain to achieve Champions League qualification again, this would be a very difficult deal to pull off and could require Bellerín to cause a fuss if he wants to team up with fellow Catalan Pep Guardiola. City are reportedly impressed by how Bellerín has adapted from a ‘future prospect’ to a fully established Premier League right-back.
– İlkay Gündoğan (25, Borussia Dortmund): SPORT believe that this deal is done and that Gündoğan will join Manchester City for a fee of €31 million (£24.4 million) this summer. Gündoğan has been persistently linked for months and will be a key component of Guardiola’s reshaped midfield. The report states that Pep has been a big fan of Gündoğan for years and was one of his main requests.
– Wendell (22, Bayer Leverkusen): City fans will be delighted to learn that a left-back has been linked in the form of 22-year-old Brazilian Wendell, who has been seriously impressive for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen this season. Barcelona and Real Madrid are among those who are said to be keen on the player, but SPORT claim Pep Guardiola has given his approval to City to try and sign him. Complicating any potential deal would be the fact that Bayer have qualified for the Champions League.
Despite listing both reserve goalkeepers as being under threat, the newspaper doesn’t suggest a replacement. In recent days, Marc-André ter Stegen has indicated that he will stay at Barcelona after heavy rumours linking him with a move to the Etihad.
How much of an overhaul is needed at City? Would six new faces suffice? If SPORT is to be believed, there could be major changes this summer, with old favourites shown the door and hungry young talents arriving to replace them. Manchester eagerly awaits Pep Guardiola and the new era…