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Behind Man City’s exodus as Pep Guardiola may lose seven first-team stars in a year


Pep Guardiola is ripping up his Manchester City manual and starting afresh with an exodus of star names expected to pave the way for an overhaul this summer.

Man City were clear and deserved Premier League winners, finishing 18 points ahead of rivals Manchester United and some distance clear of Liverpool and Chelsea.

But the Catalan’s hopes of ending his 10-year wait for his third Champions League title as a head coach were dashed when Chelsea edged out their Premier League rivals 1-0 in the final back in May.

That defeat may have suggested to Guardiola that he needs to refresh his squad with some new signings, having seen the likes of Ruben Dias and Rodri make an impact in recent seasons.

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Pep Guardiola could lose even more of his star names this summer
Pep Guardiola could lose even more of his star names this summer

Players that have become synonymous with the club have already gone, such as Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany, under his watch.

Now, the stalwarts that have contributed to Guardiola’s three Premier League titles in five years could be given the boot as well, with several big names out of contract and others at risk of being sold to fund transfers elsewhere.

Guardiola has his sights set on at least two big signings this summer, with Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish heavily linked.

Mirror Sport looks at how Guardiola’s core at Man City could disappear within the space of a year…

Bernardo Silva

Bernardo Silva has been linked with an exit from Manchester City
Bernardo Silva has been linked with an exit from Manchester City

Should Manchester City sell Bernardo Silva if it means signing Jack Grealish? Have your say in the comments section.

The Athletic report Silva has been looking to leave City for some time and saw a proposed move to Barcelona collapse at the final hurdle in the summer of 2020.

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Despite that, the playmaker has handled the situation superbly and there have been no visible signs of his desperation to leave City.

The 26-year-old, who arrived from Monaco for £43m in 2017, has seen his regular spot in the side snatched away from him due to the form of Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan.

Silva still made 26 appearances in the Premier League, scoring twice and laying on six assists for his team-mates but there has certainly been a shift in his responsibility at the club.

But he would be the most liquid asset to cash in on if City follow up their interest in Grealish and that could see the Portugal star leave once he returns from Euro 2020.

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Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling struggled for form in the 2020-21 season
Raheem Sterling struggled for form in the 2020-21 season

By his lofty standards, Sterling has had a poor season which led many to question whether he should be starting for England at the European Championships.

Having scored 23, 25 and 31 goals in all competitions in his last three seasons, Sterling’s haul of 14 in 2020-21 has been way below the standard we have come to expect from the 26-year-old.

There would be no shortage of takers if City opted to sell the winger, who they paid a then-British record £50m fee to sign from Liverpool in 2016.

Arsenal are potential suitors for the forward according to The Sun, while Tottenham may be interested in including Sterling as part of any deal to sell Harry Kane to the champions.

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Sterling has only two years left to run on his current deal and The Telegraph report talks will soon begin over a new contract.

But if he fails to deliver on a consistent basis again, he may fall victim to Guardiola’s ruthless squad overhaul.

Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero left Manchester City after the club decided against handing him a new contract
Sergio Aguero left Manchester City after the club decided against handing him a new contract

There has been some consternation about the departure of City’s greatest-ever striker after spending a decade with the club.

Aguero has already left to join Barcelona on a free transfer after it was decided City would not be offering him a new deal.

The 33-year-old had endured a disrupted campaign at the Etihad Stadium, struggling with muscle injuries and contracting the coronavirus in December, meaning he only featured in 14 games for the club.

Aguero’s father, Leonel del Castillo, hit out at Guardiola for “faking” his tears after the City boss had given an emotional interview bidding farewell to the striker on the final day of the season.

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Whether it was genuine or not is no longer the issue. Now that he has departed, Guardiola must find a way to replace his goals.

Gabriel Jesus

Gabriel Jesus is yet to fully convince Pep Guardiola he can replace Aguero
Gabriel Jesus is yet to fully convince Pep Guardiola he can replace Aguero

The man who has been waiting patiently for a chance to emulate Aguero may be left frustrated by Guardiola’s preference for a false nine.

Jesus has only managed 22 Premier League starts in a season where Aguero has been sidelined and while he managed a respectable return of nine goals and four assists, it does not feel like the Brazilian is the favourite to take up that central striking role.

Kevin De Bruyne has excelled there, Bernardo Silva has been deployed in the position and even Sterling has occupied the role on occasion.

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Guardiola may dismiss any idea that he does not trust Jesus to lead the line but every time he is left on the bench, the questions over his future will continue.

With the Manchester Evening News reporting Juventus willing to pay a large fee to bring him to Turin, Guardiola may need to convince the 24-year-old he still has an important part to play.

Fernandinho

Fernandinho has been offered a new deal by the club
Fernandinho has been offered a new deal by the club

At 36 years of age, Fernandinho will be under no illusions about the difficulty of convincing clubs he is worthy of a new contract.

But the Brazilian has produced some excellent displays in the centre of the park and the club captain provides leadership and guidance to City’s emerging crop of youngsters.

His name was included on the club’s ‘released’ list, which details the players whose contracts have not been renewed. However, BBC Sport report the two parties are engaged in discussions over extending his stint for a ninth season.

With 350 appearances under his belt since arriving from Shakhtar and a capable successor in Rodri, Guardiola may believe it is time for the holding midfielder to move on,.

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Leroy Sane

Leroy Sane headed back to Bayern Munich in 2020
Leroy Sane headed back to Bayern Munich in 2020

The departure of Sane to Bayern Munich was a bitter pill for Guardiola to swallow, having publicly declared his intention to keep the winger.

The Germany international returned to his homeland in a £35m deal after four years in the Premier League, having run down his contract to its final year.

It would have been painful to see a player so integral to Guardiola’s blueprint leave for pastures new, particularly when the club stood by his side through a serious knee injury.

If there is one thing that City miss, it is Sane’s direct dribbling and runs in behind. His goal return was commendable too, managing double figures in goals and assists in his last two full seasons at the club.

Ferran Torres has proved he can be one for the future, but the void left by the 25-year-old is yet to be truly filled.

David Silva

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David Silva ended his 10-year association with Manchester City last summer
David Silva ended his 10-year association with Manchester City last summer

A magical player who oozes quality wherever he goes and, as Guardiola described it, was “irreplaceable”.

Silva opted to return to Spain with Real Sociedad upon the expiry of his contract last summer and the exit of such a popular figure — both in the dressing room and with the fans — hit City hard.

His influence in the attacking midfielder was such that he made those around him, including De Bruyne, Silva and Mahrez — improve as well.

Signing a player of Grealish’s calibre would perhaps bring back a level of creative ingenuity to the Etihad that has been absent since Silva headed out of the door.





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