By Preye Campbell
The good thing – if you could call it one- is that the end of the season can afford Pep Guardiola a chance to go back to the drawing board and create a formidable European team again, something that has been lacking since the days of that Barcelona team. The bad thing is that he has had one too many chances to birth an invincible team, and has fallen short every year since 2011.
Yet again, rebuilding a Manchester City team will be on the cards during the off-season, after Saturday’s disappointment. Surely, the Spanish tactician is a victim of his own successes; ten years without a Champions League trophy looks inappropriate for a genius, even though his ‘genius act’ prevented him from a third European trophy.
Since City fans are now used to achievements under their Spanish manager, the 2020-21 season may have a mixed effect at the Etihad. True, another Premier League and League Cup success continues to cement City’s status as the best English side in the last decade, but the season will be based on a disappointing night in Porto, and Guardiola knows it.
Will Transfers Be Made During the Summer?
City chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak has already mentioned that the Manchester side are not satisfied with just winning the league and will ‘need to bring new talent into the team’. One aspect that has been frequently mentioned is the no.9 spot. Club legend Sergio Aguero has already left for Barcelona; Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez both disappointed on the night against Chelsea; Gabriel Jesus still blows hot and cold and may never be able to be an out-and-out striker. That leaves a striker a priority and it is no surprise that the club have been constantly linked to Englishman Harry Kane.
The 2020-21 top scorer in the Premier League is on the hunt for a club as his thirst for success seems to have outgrown what Tottenham Hotspur can possibly quench. All transfer talks will be on hold as he will be on international duty with England at the Euros, but he remains a wanted player, not just at City.
There have been no talks of a transfer for any other position but Guardiola may want to consider his midfield options. It should be fair to say he will be concerned about lining up attack-minded midfielders to fill a defensive midfielder’s job in the near future after Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva fell short of any real quality in a position that had the opposing side parading a phenomenal N’golo Kante. Fernandinho could sign a new deal to keep him further at the club but he is getting closer to the twilight stages of his career, leaving a transfer for a defensive midfielder very much on the cards.
Aguero and Eric Garcia have already left Manchester City, and if reports are to mean anything, Raheem Sterling may follow suit after the Euros. The English forward was far from the outstanding player he was between 2018 to 2020. He largely underperformed at the final and cut a dejected figure throughout the game. If Guardiola becomes ruthless about his ambitions as we have known him to be, Sterling might be one of those players to take the fall.
Whatever decision made during the summer transfer window, one thing should be clear; Guardiola and City need a response.