Pep Guardiola hasn’t wasted time in asserting his authority at Manchester City.
This summer saw overweight players banished from first-team training and a plethora of squad members sent out on loan. What Guardiola says at the Etihad Stadium, goes.
In addition, the Spaniard is looking to further this cull next summer in tactically blocking six players from having their current contracts renewed. It appears Guardiola is more than happy for a select few to leave on a free transfer.
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Barely three months into his job at Manchester City and Guardiola has already established an impregnable stranglehold over his squad.
There are few comparable examples of managers taking such control so quickly. It’s apparent that the powers that be at the club are investing great trust as well as money into their new manager.
This was no more exemplified than in the 45-year-old’s transfer decisions over the summer.
Joe Hart proves the finest example as, despite having been in fine form for City, he was shepherded out of the exit by Guardiola. After all, few managers would instigate the departure of a nation’s number one keeper from their own country.
But Guardiola did just that.
Similarly, Samir Nasri was forced to train by himself throughout pre-season as the Frenchman was said to be short of his manager’s fitness expectations. The ex-Arsenal man, just like Hart, was spent packing on a loan deal with Sevilla.
Players such as Eliaqium Mangala and Wilfried Bony were also victims of Guardiola’s merciless treatment.
However, even the players that survived the ex-Barcelona boss’ initial purge aren’t necessarily safe. This is particularly the case for players who will see their contracts at the club end in the summer.
In fact, there are six players in particular that, according to the Mirror, are playing their last campaign at the Etihad Stadium. They are:
Yaya Toure: after a farcical and public row between Guardiola and Toure’s agent Dimitri Seluk, the Ivorian hasn’t featured in the City first-team since. Moreover, bridges between the pair seem burnt to an extent that Toure may already have played his last game for the Citizens.
Pablo Zabaleta: while Guardiola has handed the Argentine five appearances this season, 2016-17 looks set to be Zabaleta’s final hoorah. Now into his thirties, he isn’t the ruthless and ferociously consistent full-back he used to be.
Aleksandr Kolarov: another player who has featured semi-regularly under Guardiola, but another set for an exit. The Serbian has featured largely unsuccessfully at centre-back and his gung-ho attacking tendencies sees him viewed as a potential liability.
Gael Clichy: the Frenchman is also in his thirties now and becoming a risk up against the Premier League’s swiftest wingers. Guardiola will be looking to invest in a more youthful option and transition Clichy out of the club.
Jesus Navas: after a successful first season in Manchester, Navas has been reduced to a squad rotation player unable to maintain his form. The 30-year-old is at risk of being replaced by Leroy Sane and just two goals in three years is a terrible return for such an offensive player.
Willy Cabellero: it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Guardiola is rather picky about who features between the sticks at the Etihad. Cabellero will be the latest City shot stopper to bite the bullet when his contract is allowed to finish.
So, while Guardiola is best known for the patient and pretty football his sides play, he’s also ruthless when it comes to organising his squad. If City fans can be sure of anything this season, it’s that no one in the side is truly safe.
A new contract with the Citizens, it appears, is incredibly precious.
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