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Manchester City squad state of play: Who is vulnerable, who isn’t and who wants out


Joao Cancelo’s surprise move to Bayern Munich has shown that anything is possible as Manchester City look to overcome a difficult spell.

Pep Guardiola made public his concerns about the appetite and desire of the squad after a thrilling comeback against Tottenham in January, and the situation with Cancelo had become so bad that they were happy to stick with him without replacing him in the second half of the season.

As part of his revelations about the squad’s attitude, Guardiola suggested he would have to “move the squad” to shake them out of the complacency and bad mood that has set in recently.

This is what Guardiola says for a great summer of transfers.

“How many Premier Leagues did you win?” Guardiola asked former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand in 2021. The answer was six. “Did he have the same staff from the first to the sixth? No. You have to shake, you have to move.

“With the same guys, it’s almost impossible.”

The City Council planned a shake-up then, but it didn’t happen, and something similar could come up again in the coming months. Athletic have learned of a number of players who could make a move, or be encouraged to move, this summer.

And with so many rumors about players who haven’t featured much recently, like Phil Foden and Ruben Dias, we’re going to go through the entire squad and look at the current state of play with each player.

Each has been given a rating out of 10, so 10 are sure to stay at City next season and 1 are sure to leave. Nothing is safe in football, so there is no 10 or 1, but anything above 7 is pretty safe, anything below 5 is a more pressing concern…

Riyad Mahrez

There’s only one reason the 31-year-old tops this list: context.

“If Riyad was sitting here, I would ask him if he was training and playing the same way as before, even when we were in Abu Dhabi for a few days (during the World Cup),” Guardiola said a few weeks ago. “It was absolutely not the same.”

Mahrez, then, goes to show that a player’s attitude can change quickly and that a season that starts badly can soon turn around. The Algerian only signed a new two-year contract last summer, so he would hardly have been plotting an exit, but his example may be helpful to other players currently going through the kind of problems he had at the beginning of the season.



Mahrez scored against Chelsea in January (Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Cancelo, for example, did not feel like sitting on the sidelines and exploded to the point that he left. Mahrez turned his situation around. Others, like Nathan Ake in the past, have shown no outward frustration and are now seeing the benefits.

So there are many ways a player can deal with his situation, but City’s bottom line is that if a player wants to go, he can go.

Not the case with Mahrez because he managed to get back on track. Will others do the same?

8/10

Ederson and Stefan Ortega

Back to the pecking order now, but as there’s a lot more to talk about with other players, let’s cut to the chase with the two goalkeepers – there’s no idea they’ll be sold or want to move on right now.

9/10

Kyle Walker

Interesting, sure. Walker has been a mainstay in City’s squad for years and while there has been some uncertainty about his role in England, there has never been anything like it regarding his club future, until this week past

A report in Spain placed him on a list of several players who could leave the Etihad Stadium in the summer, along with Aymeric Laporte, Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan.

Walker is one of the players Guardiola referred to recently when he spoke cryptically about “body language” and the 32-year-old has been displeased to lose his place in the squad since the World Cup.

Things have improved recently, though, so it’s not the Cancelo situation, but it’s one to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

5/10

Nathan Ake

He was close to leaving last summer in the hope of playing more regularly elsewhere, but he stayed and has arguably been City’s best defender this season.

“Right now, without Nathan, we can’t play well,” Guardiola said recently, and despite starting on the bench in the next game, the 27-year-old is having an impressive season and is playing more than ever.

NATHAN-AKE-Manchester-city

Ake celebrates scoring the winning goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup last month (Photo: Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images)

His attitude when he wasn’t picked, especially last season, delighted Guardiola and City will be keen to keep him around. As long as he keeps playing, Ake will be happy too.

9/10

Aymeric Laporte

It wouldn’t be the first time he’s flirted with an exit. In January 2021 he asked to go there, but nothing materialized.

He has also been unhappy about playing time in recent weeks but, at least right now, City do not believe a transfer is as hot a topic as it might be for other players.

However, playing time between now and the end of the season is likely to determine Laporte’s feelings about his future.

The fact that City have five centre-backs could make it more likely that one will want to leave, although the situation at full-back means that Ake and John Stones have been withdrawn from the center anyway. Even if Laporte were to leave, he could face the same problems as two years ago, when Spain’s biggest clubs didn’t have the money for him or simply looked elsewhere.

6/10

Ruben Dias

He has barely featured for City since returning from the World Cup with a hamstring injury, but he is not high on Guardiola’s list of concerns. A key voice in the dressing room as well.

9/10

John Stones

Guardiola has long doubted Stones’ “reliability” in terms of fitness, the manager’s words, but knows how good he is when available.

It was curious that the manager appeared to blame the 28-year-old for getting injured against Arsenal last week, another indication that things are not well behind the scenes with some players, but Stones is not currently regarded as someone for sale or someone who wants to be sold

8/10

Manuel Akanji

He only signed for City in the summer and is doing pretty well considering it was a last-minute opportunistic signing to help with the numbers – he’s started 13 of the 14 league games since missing the game at Aston Villa for a couple of days. after his arrival.

9/10

Joao Cancelo

Here’s a little secret: this article was being written when news broke of the 28-year-old’s loan move to Bayern Munich, but he did have him on the list of obvious candidates for a summer move.



Cancelo has now left Manchester City and joined Bayern Munich (Photo: S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images)

Everything about his situation has come to light in recent days, and while Bayern are under no obligation to make his loan permanent, it is considered highly unlikely that he will return to City’s squad next season.

3/10

Sergio Gomez

Regarded by City as someone who could be moved on, he was brought in last summer as the club looked for more experienced options at left-back.

He’s still not at City first-team level (he hasn’t started a single league game), which is fair enough considering he’s 22 and has only played one season at left-back, which was in the orders from Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht. He still plays on the right side of the Spanish under-21 team.

A loan is considered likely, but a transfer is also not off the table.

4/10

Rodri

Let’s save a little time: no problems.

9/10

Kevin De Bruyne

As above.

9/10

Ilkay Gundogan

More to say here! The 32-year-old player’s contract expires this summer and that is why the club is aware that he could leave, considering that he has several suitors from all over Europe, including Barcelona.



Gundogan is liked by a number of European clubs (Photo: Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

However, renewal talks have begun and he is believed to be keen to stay, particularly as Guardiola has signed a new deal and Gundogan’s wife is about to give birth. A bit of stability wouldn’t hurt City or the Gundogan family either.

6/10

Bernard Silva

The same story as in recent summers: the 28-year-old would leave if a good offer comes to him from Europe, preferably from Spain.

Paris Saint-Germain came into the picture last summer and it will be interesting to see if Bernardo is keen enough for a change of scenery to accept a better offer, although the main motivation for a move is longing for the culture of Portugal/ Spain.

City are under no illusions about this one and, combined with keeping their options open regarding Gundogan, are lining up replacements.

5/10

Calvin Phillips

He has only just arrived, like Akanji, but curiously his future is much less assured – there are rumors at City suggesting a summer move for the 27-year-old is not completely off the cards.

He has only started one game for City and that was the dreadful Carabao Cup defeat at Southampton. While that can mostly be attributed to shoulder surgery and the fact that Rodri was always going to be the first choice this season, there’s a sense that unlike other newcomers who have thrived over time, Phillips still has work to prove yourself.



Phillips has looked the pace since joining City (Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Guardiola’s public statement that Phillips reported the World Cup overweight was a window into his previously private frustration. A transfer would be a remarkable turnaround after one season, but the midfielder has work to do in terms of intensity and application to get his City career on track.

5/10

Phil Foot

He hasn’t featured much recently due to various factors: World Cup hangover (similar to Walker), Guardiola’s tactical experiments and a foot injury. It’s not the happiest the 22-year-old has ever been, but the chances of him leaving City anytime soon are slim – he loves the club and the club value him highly (and he’s very expensive).

9/10

Julian Alvarez

New signing, going well. I could sign a new contract, if necessary.

9/10

Erling Haaland

As before, although a new contract is probably more difficult to arrange given the different clauses relating to his future. Still, no worries now.

9/10

Jack Grealish

It has flown under the radar as everyone has focused on City’s hunger and desire since Guardiola’s comments after the Tottenham game, but Grealish is in the best form of his time in Manchester so far.

A key part of Guardiola’s plans and he is more than happy with his situation at City, although he has admitted it was more difficult than he ever imagined.

9/10

Cole Palmer

Just when you thought there would be some stability up front after the potential turmoil in midfield.

Palmer was tipped as someone who would get more game time this season following the departures of Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus and, while it doesn’t really seem like it, that has happened.



Cole Palmer has received the minutes he was promised (Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

He has slightly less La Liga minutes this season compared to last (and they’ve all come as a late substitute), but he’s got far more minutes in all three cups.

The 20-year-old hasn’t quite lit things up like he did a year ago, though, and City sources have noted a dip in his confidence, perhaps related to the injury that kept him out for the second half of the season past He also might not get too many more minutes in the second half of this season.

City are also looking to bring in a winger, which adds an extra layer of complication for Palmer. A loan is possible.

6/10

(Feature photos: Getty Images)


Source: Manchester City squad state of play: Who is vulnerable, who isn’t and who wants out

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