The times they are a-changin’ at Manchester City. A generation that brought us success unseen in decades has largely passed its sell-by date and major renovation is needed.
Pablo Zabaleta had the perfect send-off a week ago, but there will be no such ceremony for others departing. Gaël Clichy announced his departure in unspectacular style at a fan event for the new 93:20 documentary on Monday, telling the assembled Blues, “I won’t be here next season.”
Bacary Sagna will follow Zabaleta and Clichy out of the door and that will just be the beginning. Willy Caballero has yet to be offered a new contract as far as we know, while Jesus Navas has a new offer but Sevilla are blowing kisses and want him back in Nervión.
And then there is Yaya Touré. Touré’s latest remarks reveal a genuine affection for the club and its fans, who have always backed him even as his agent, Dimitri Seluk, has slandered members of the club’s staff every summer since the Ivorian signed in 2010. No surprise then that the agent seems to be more keen on an Etihad departure for 34-year-old Touré than the man himself. That issue remains unresolved, but confirmation should come soon.
Others will certainly follow. Joe Hart, Eliaquim Mangala, Samir Nasri and Wilfried Bony find themselves unwanted and City will hope to sell the high-profile quartet and reinvest the funds in what could be the mother of all spending sprees.
Even those under contract and who have contributed this season find their futures in doubt. Claudio Bravo, Fernando, Fabian Delph, Nolito and Kelechi Iheanacho haven’t convinced Guardiola, with Iheanacho going from being something of a poster boy under Pellegrini to just another kid struggling for minutes under Pep.
Add in a couple more youngsters – Tosin Adarabioyo, who is more likely to stay than go, and Jason Denayer, the highly-rated Belgium international who is stuck in loan limbo, and as many as SEVENTEEN players need their futures defining.
Pep Guardiola, who isn’t in any danger of joining the exodus despite a disappointing debut campaign, never says a bad word about his players on camera. “This is one of the best groups I’ve ever trained in my life,” he said after the 5-0 win at Watford. But don’t be fooled, he is a demanding perfectionist and will be ruthless this summer. He has to be ruthless for the sake of his own reputation if nothing else, because it is clear that a number of players who once guided City to a new era of trophies are now holding the team back from winning more.
Expect fireworks this summer. It’s going to be an exciting one.