Manchester City have the potential to become a true European powerhouse with the meticulously tactical Pep Guardiola at the helm as of next season.
The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss demands to work alongside players of supreme quality – and he is sure to tweak his new squad over the summer with the riches of Sheikh Mansour able to underwrite deals for virtually any transfer target.
Jesus Navas is likely to be one of the unfortunate Manchester City players who will be forced through the exit door during this transformation, but the time is right for both parties to go their seperate ways.
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Signed from Sevilla for a reported £14.9 million fee, the Spaniard has not and is showing no signs of becoming a key player at the Etihad despite the influence he occasionally has in matches.
Like any traditional winger, he needs to see regular action on the pitch to build up an understanding of how his teammates make runs in the final third and the type of pass they will be looking for.
Last season Navas featured in 34 Premier League fixtures under Manuel Pellegrini – the man who signed him from Sevilla – and at times showcased the telling impact he is capable of producing.
As he has done throughout his career, the nippy winger offered his team a reliable source of individual brilliance, beating his man on 48 out of 70 occasions in the Premier League last season according to WhoScored.
But for all his success in one-on-one contests, Navas’ inconsistency, one-dimensional playing style and tendency to go missing in important matches let down what could have been a breakthrough campaign for the former La Liga sensation.
Only Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva produced more key passes than Navas last term, though these unspecific numbers arguably place him in a higher regard than he deserves.
Despite arriving on English shores with a reputation for his superb delivery from wide areas, the 30-year-old found a teammate only 33 times from 173 attempts in league action last season.
What's more, a mere 19 of these crosses ranked as key passes in attacking moves while only five resulted in a goal being scored.
BIG GAME STRUGGLES
Navas’ quietness on the big stage is another grave concern. Despite registering seven Premier League assists, only one of them came against an opponent inside the top six while he failed to score in 34 appearances.
In the Champions League, his lone statistical contribution was a cool ball in for Wilfried Bony to cap off a dominant 3-1 group stage victory over Sevilla in November.
While it must be noted his side lacks a towering striker to aim for, Navas’ incompatibility with the makeup of the Manchester City squad runs deeper than his natural instinct to cross the ball.
As a natural-born wide player, the Spaniard prefers not to cut inside and instead hugs the right-hand touchline in an attempt to isolate his marker and create a one-on-one duel.
This trait can be beneficial in terms of stretching the opposition defence, but it also deprives adventurous full-backs like Pablo Zabaleta or Bacary Sagna of the room to overlap on the outside.
Guardiola’s previous tenures at Barcelona and Bayern Munich suggest he has no use for a one-dimensional albeit effective winger of Navas’ mould.
The temptation to cash in on a player who would likely fetch upwards of £10 million is surely worth considering, leaving Navas’ future very much in the hands of the new Manchester City boss.
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