A new era is beginning at Manchester City and it’s being overseen by perhaps the best manager in football.
Pep Guardiola replaced Manuel Pellegrini in the summer with one goal: Make City the most dominant team in Europe.
It won’t be an easy task for the Spaniard, who achieved great success at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. The Premier League offers greater competition than La Liga and the Bundesliga, and rivals Manchester United have strengthened considerably with the arrivals of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and, of course, Jose Mourinho.
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Chelsea, with new manager Antonio Conte, will be stronger, too, while Arsenal will be desperate to end their long trophy drought.
Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito have both joined Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium and more signings will be made before the transfer window shuts.
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Here, we take a look at City’s possible line-up for the 2016-17 season.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
There are reports that Guardiola is in the market for a new goalkeeper - one who is comfortable in possession - after Joe Hart’s horror show at Euro 2016.
Yet Hart is a leader and, despite his woes in France, remains a fine shot-stopper. It would be a risk for Guardiola to bring in a replacement.
Right back: Bacary Sagna
Pablo Zabaleta provides the French defender with worthy competition but a solid showing at Euro 2016 proved Sagna remains a fine right back.
Centre backs: John Stones and Vincent Kompany
The centre back positions could make or break City’s year.
They are rumoured to be interested in signing Stones from Everton in a deal worth at least £50 million, while Kompany is recovering from an injury-hit season.
If Stones fulfils his potential and Kompany can avoid injury, City might have the best defensive duo in the league. On the flip side, it could spell disaster if the England international endures another difficult season and the City captain continues his wretched injury-record.
Left back: Ricardo Rodriguez
Aleksandr Kolarov is reportedly attracting interest from Turkish club Besiktas and, if the Serbian does leave this summer, Gael Clichy will be the club’s only senior left back.
Guardiola was given a glimpse of Wolfsburg left back Ricardo Rodriguez over the past three seasons and the impressive Swiss player is destined to join a European giant in the coming years.
City could be that giant.
Centre midfield: Ilkay Gundogan and Yaya Toure
Gundogan, a £21m signing from Borussia Dortmund, is returning from a dislocated knee that forced him out of Euro 2016. Though his injury record is incredibly alarming, a healthy Gundogan could steer City to the title.
There is also concern over Toure. Guardiola sold the Ivorian to City in 2010 and there has been plenty of speculation surrounding his future, but it appears the hatchet has been buried between the pair.
A motivated Toure could provide the X-factor City need. But, based on last season’s evidence, that’s a big ask.
Right wing: Kevin de Bruyne
The Belgian enjoyed a fine debut season, scoring 13 goals in all competitions for City, and could thrive under Guardiola’s guidance.
Attacking midfield: David Silva
The Spaniard recorded 11 assists last campaign and City fans can expect the same of what they’ve seen for the past six seasons - assists, creativity and an exciting spark.
Left wing: Raheem Sterling
The signing of Nolito from Celta Vigo spelled bad news for Sterling, who had a difficult season last time out and carried on his disappointing form at Euro 2016.
But there’s a reason City paid Liverpool £49m for his services. Sterling is only 21 years old and will be given the best platform to succeed by his new manager.
Striker: Sergio Aguero
Arguably the best striker in England will lead City’s line.
Will Manchester City win the 2016-17 Premier League? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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