Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has warned the club's ambitious owners that a failure to make further investment in his squad will have dire consequences next season.
City only require victory at Bolton in their final Premier League game on Sunday to secure an automatic Champions League place and after ending the club's 35-year trophy drought in the FA Cup final last Saturday, it would cap an outstanding season for the Blues.
In recent days, director of football Brian Marwood and then chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak have both claimed only minor alternations are required ahead of a concerted push for the Premier League title next term, but Mancini said: "Khaldoon understands how difficult it is to win in the Champions League on a Wednesday and the Premier League on a Saturday. If you don't have 23 or 24 really good players it is really difficult."
He added: "The Champions League is a very difficult tournament. Manchester United have all their experience and won many trophies. They played in the semi-final with probably 11 different players to the ones who played in the final. This says something I think."
However, City cannot spend vast sums as they must also meet the requirements of UEFA's new financial fair play rules, which restrict clubs to losing no more than an average of £39.5million over the next three years.
Given City lost £121million, more than their entire allocated sum for the three years combined, last year, they clearly cannot continue with the previous model, though there are fresh revenue streams imminent, through the Champions League and naming rights for the stadium.
However, the prospect of an additional windfall via player sales is limited due to the massive wages of players such as Wayne Bridge, Roque Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy and Emmanuel Adebayor, all of whom are deemed surplus to requirements.
It certainly suggests a more limited recruitment policy in the future, and Mancini has laughed at suggestions of a £150million approach to Real Madrid for former world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo.
"I said after the FA Cup final, I would like to sign Ronaldo, Messi, Fabregas and Iniesta if it is possible," he said. "I don't think it is. But City do need to buy other players. We also need to buy some young players because we don't have any good young players at the moment. We need players who can improve during the year and play in the first-team.
"I am the manager. If Khaldoon says we can't spend, I will deal with it. But this is the last year we can spend because it is changing. If we want to lessen the gap with other top teams in the Champions League, we only have the next two months."
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