Will it be another summer of change for Manchester City? We look at where Pep Guardiola could look to strengthen the Premier League champions this transfer window.
After finishing the 2016-17 campaign in third, Guardiola wasted no time in strengthening his City squad, bringing Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Ederson and Danilo to the Etihad 12 months ago.
It paid dividends this season, as City hit the ground running and never looked back, clinching the title after reaching an unprecedented 100 points – 19 clear of nearest challengers Manchester United.
So where do they go from here? As City bid to become the first club to defend their Premier League crown since United in 2009, we consider their options this summer, with Soccer Saturday pundit Charlie Nicholas also casting his expert opinion.
Making the headlines…
In April, Sky Sports News reported Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara topped Manchester City’s wanted list, with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha remaining on Guardiola’s radar.
The City boss is keen to get business done early ahead of the World Cup, which starts on June 14, and Napoli midfielder Jorginho could well be the first player to join the league champions, with the Italian’s agent admitting his client will join if a deal can be reached with the Serie A side.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reported on Monday that City have renewed their interest in Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez, having failed to sign the Algerian on Deadline Day in January. At the time, Leicester valued Mahrez at £95m, though it is believed they will seek a price closer to £60m.
Pundit’s view: Dybala in for Aguero
Charlie Nicholas: “There’s the saying in football that when you’re at your strongest, you keep strengthening, and we’ve actually seen Pep tell us there have to be additions.
“They have the advantage that they can go out, buy quality and keep it on the bench, which the other sides can’t really do because their players get agitated.
“I personally think Sergio Aguero will go, so I think they’ll be looking at another centre-forward and could seek a hungry player in their early 20s, perhaps Paulo Dybala, or another young striker coming in.
“I also think they’ll look at a holding midfielder, with Jorginho the man linked, as Yaya Toure is moving on and Fernandinho will probably need a bit more cover next season.
“If John Stones doesn’t improve then I think he’ll be sold, so they’d also need another centre-back, with Aymeric Laporte adding to the pressure on his future.”
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Guardiola is fully aware City need to make changes in their bid to retain the league trophy and mount a serious challenge for the Champions League.
When asked about summer transfers in April, he said: “We have to change a few things to make a step forward and that is the challenge. We have one year to defend our title.
“I am sure the other teams are preparing better to beat us because we are the champions and If we stop then they are going to catch us.
“We have an amazing group of guys but you can lose it. I don’t know how we are going to react after winning the Premier League, even myself.
“Football changes in nothing. In the next five minutes, we are going to see how we react to the success. It is a good test for all of us.”
What are the odds?
According to Sky Bet, Jorginho is odds-on to join City this summer (1/6), with Riyad Mahrez heavily fancied to finally link up with Guardiola (4/6).
Two more wingers, Leon Bailey (7/2) and Wilfried Zaha (4/1), trail Mahrez in the odds, while Danny Rose is 5/1 and Thiago Alcantara 7/1.
A marquee signing appears unlikely, though Luis Suarez (6/1), Kylian Mbappe (7/1) and Lionel Messi (10/1) are all deemed to be in the mix, while Nicholas’ shout of Paulo Dybala is out at 12/1.
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