Manchester City have released 24-year-old midfielder Michael Johnson from his contract, after a long-term fitness battle.

The former England Under 21 international last made a first-team appearance for City back in October 2009.


According to the Manchester Evening News, Johnson was awarded a severance package shortly before Christmas in order to bring an end to his eight-year affiliation with the club.

News of Johnson's departure has only just become apparent however, after the publication of a recent photograph emerged showing the ex-City man looking overweight and unfit.

Personal issues in recent years have caused a steady decline in Johnson's career, with sources citing a severe gambling addiction and alcohol dependency to be at the heart of his problems.

However it has subsequently transpired that these issues are related to a long-term illness from which Johnson has been suffering for some time. It is believed he had been visiting 'The Priory' rehab clinic in London in an attempt to resurrect his career and personal life.

Since a loan move to Leicester City in 2011 failed to work out, seeing Johnson make just nine appearances in all competitions, the midfielder has stayed largely out of the media limelight prior to a conviction for drink-driving back in August last year.

It is believed City have deliberately attempted to keep Johnson out of the news in order to protect his privacy and it is for this reason that news of his release from the club has only just become apparent.

Despite not issuing his retirement from professional football, Johnson has asked to be left alone as he attempts to get his life back on track. It appears unlikely that the man once hailed by Sven-Goran Eriksson to be better than Steven Gerrard will be appearing in top-flight football any time soon.

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