Monday Night Football is an education for football fans, like myself, as teams, managers, players, formations and tactics are broken down in microscopic detail by Sky Sports pundits and former Premier League stars Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.
Last week, Neville pointed back to a claim he has made a handful of times over the last six months – that over the next year or so Manchester City are going to have to rebuild and regenerate their squad.
In his eyes, the cycle of the squad which has been so successful over the last three or four years is coming to an end and to maintain their position as a top team in the country and to kick on in Europe they will need to move players on, reinvest and reinvent.
Neville is as good as anyone to talk about the need for dissembling and reinventing teams to keep a club at a high level after he experienced this several times during his Manchester United career. He was a key part in three great United teams from the 1999 treble winning squad of Yorke/Cole/Solskjaer and so on into the early 2000’s team of Ferdinand/Beckham/Van Nistelrooy and through to the 2007/08 side boasting Rooney/Ronaldo/Vidic.
The numbers do speak for themselves when you do look at this Manchester City side’s senior players or ‘core’. At the end of this season these will be the ages of some of Manchester City’s players: Kompany – 29, Zabaleta – 30, Kolarov – 29, Nasri – 28, Toure – 32, Milner – 29, Silva – 29, Dzeko – 29.
Most of them were brought into the club as top class professionals in the absolute peak of their careers. A few seasons have gone by and they have been hugely successful in domestic terms, even if slightly under-whelming in Europe.
In my eyes, there can be no doubt that Manchester City will look to bring in top class players in both full-back positions and attacking midfield over the next two transfer windows.
Here are a few players they may take a look at to fill in these positions.
Ricardo Rodriguez: The Swiss defender’s stock has been rising fast since his move from FC Zurich to Wolfsburg in 2012. As athletic as they come and reliable in defence, Rodriguez has attracted the attention of Europe’s giants and will soon move on to a bigger platform.
Mattia De Sciglio: AC Milan are not what they used to be, a lack of funding from Silvio Berlusconi, boardroom unrest and a string of managers have seen the side plummet into mid-table mediocrity. De Sciglio, however, has been a shining light for the Rossoneri and looks set to be a star. He does not look out of his depth in Serie A or playing for the Italian national team. He is very comfortable on the ball as a right-back, but also has versatility to play on the left-hand side.
Hakan Calhanoglu: After a stunning season for Hamburg, last summer Calhanoglu moved to Bayer Leverkusen for £11.5 million, which now seems a major bargain. He is precociously talented, creative in the extreme and one of the world’s best free-kick takers. It would take a big cheque to pry the talented Turk away from the German side but the player is destined for the very top and would thrive in the Premier League.
As teams have to change and evolve to keep up with the rest and build further momentum, it’s vitally important others don’t get left behind. Manchester City have the funds to do so, it’s just more important than ever that they get it right or their hard work establishing themselves as a powerhouse could take a knock.