Manchester City’s two-season suspension from the Champions League could have a real impact on their transfer plans this summer pending an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Pep Guardiola’s squad requires an overhaul, but with no Champions League football to trap top goals this could prove tougher than was originally envisaged.
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Of course, City still has plenty to offer prospective signings, but they may have to be smarter in the transfer market. Man, City has been linked with Nathan Ake in the past and it’s easy to see why. The Dutch center-back is good with the ball at his feet and boasts strong game intelligence. In many ways, he is the perfect Guardiola center-back and would stand a good chance of thriving under the Catalan coach at the Etihad Stadium.
With Bournemouth currently facing a fight against the drop, Ake would surely accept merely staying in the Premier League. A lack of Champions League football wouldn’t put the 25-year-old off a move to City, although they could face competition from the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.
As part of the Real Sociedad side that has engrossed and amused La Liga this season, Mikel Oyarzabal has only extra to a standing that already had him as one of the most exhilarating young players in Europe at this moment. Indeed, the 22-year-old has huge potential.
The picture could be changed if Real Sociedad qualifies for next season’s Champions League by concluding in La Liga’s top four, but Oyarzabal would confidently jump at the chance to work with Guardiola, a coach who could bring the best out of his game. There could be a squad spot to be filled if Leroy Sane leaves for Bayern Munich.
It seems likely that there will be a transfer market race for the signing of Jack Grealish this summer. The 24-year-old has marked himself out as one of the most promising young players with a series of sparkling performances for Aston Villa in the Premier League this season. He has carried his team at times. Manchester United have been strongly linked with Grealish, but there could be a clearer role for him to fill at Man City instead of with David Silva set to leave the club at the end of the season.
There would be an undeniable attraction to being anointed the successor to such a Premier League legend. His performance was key in ending Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League run, scoring twice in a 3-0 win for Watford, and Ismaila Sarr is only getting better with every game he plays. Contracted from Rennes for a club-record fee of £30 million in the summer, Sarr, an immediate winger with an eye for goal, has been linked to Sadio Mane.
The city would have to break the bank to prise Sarr from Watford’s grips, with the Vicarage Road side almost definitely hoping to make a healthy profit on their £30 million investment, but the Senegalese international could be a good fit, especially with Sane and Silva expected to leave the club at the end of the season.
One of Man City’s biggest priorities this summer must be finding a long-term successor for Fernandinho. The Brazilian has been an excellent servant, but cannot continue forever and at 34-year-old it’s time for a replacement to be signed. Denis Zakaria is one candidate who would fit the bill.
The Swiss midfielder has been a key figure for Borussia Monchengladbach this season, acting as a protective barrier in front of the back four. Gladbach is still in the hunt for Champions League qualification themselves, but should they miss out Zakaria would surely be a realistic target for City.
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