When Pep Guardiola takes over the reins at Manchester City this summer he will certainly know the task ahead of him at the club. This is without question the biggest challenge that the Spanish manager has taken on yet and there is much within the club he will have to address.
The current underachievement at the club is a massive problem for Guardiola as he will have to regroup this group of players and without doubt he will have to build another team of players. How often do we hear of the abundance of talent within this current Manchester City squad? Too many is the answer when there are more problems within the squad than there is good.
One issue that has been overlooked by many for a number of years now is the level of performance at left full back for Manchester City. The centre backs with the exception of Vincent Kompany and the central midfielders at the club are the players that take the brunt of the criticism addressed to the team, but the lack of quality at the left back position is and has been a big problem for this team. The left centre back for Manchester City nine times out of ten is the player singled out when they play poorly or make mistakes, but there are a number of errors instigated by the left back that causes these problems. Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala cost Manchester City over £70 million between them, they generally play left centre back for the club and are exposed perhaps more than any other centre halves within the division. The lack of protection is due to the left back being caught up the field, so ultimately they have to either push out too far left or push forward slightly to cover spaces left by the holding midfielder. These players do not turn into bad players overnight, Otamendi was one of the most in-demand players last summer and Mangala the same the previous years.
The time for a change will come during the summer, and no doubt Guardiola will have identified areas where he feels needs to be addressed within this squad. Aleksandar Kolarov is now thirty years old and while he has been a loyal servant for his six years at the club, they cannot just rely on the fact he has a great left foot to get them out of trouble, his positional sense is not the best and his immediate thoughts are getting forward, a role on the left of midfield has always been more suited to the Serbian international. Gael Clichy is also thirty years of age and has been plagued with injuries since arriving at the Etihad. Clichy defensively is slightly better than Kolarov but his lack of discipline in a positional sense was a major factor in his departure from Arsenal.
The chequebooks will be back out during the summer at the Etihad for Guardiola to use to build this team into what the owners want to achieve, which is a major force within world football. Will Guardiola look around the Premier League itself and try and prize away players like Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose, possibly the under-rated Christian Fuchs? If Guardiola goes to the continent for recruitment his options might just be three Spaniards.
Guardiola brought Bernat from Valencia to Bayern Munich two seasons ago. In his first campaign in Germany, Bernat found himself the runner up Young Player of the Year while earning rave reviews across Europe. This campaign has not been as kind to Bernat with only 19 appearances this season, injuries at the start of the season hampered the young Spaniard. The twenty three year old is expected to challenge for the first team spot for Spain at this summer’s European Championships. Guardiola has had faith in Bernat and if he joined his manager at the Etihad this summer this would be a massive upgrade on what is available currently.
The twenty year old Valencia star is perhaps the most promising left back in the whole of Europe. Injuries have been a big problem for him this season which coincides with the lack of form at Valencia this season. Already been included in two of the Spain national squads, Gaya is still to make his international debut, but no doubt that will happen sooner rather than later. Gaya will be chased heavy this summer it is predicted but with the riches at the Etihad they may just match the £36.6 million release clause which is known to be in Gaya’s contract at Valencia. This would be a massive coup for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola, and a signing they should definitely try and make.
The trusted left back of Pep Guardiola would be the ideal signing for the club; the biggest challenge would be getting the player. Alba has won everything there is to win in the game and defensively is perhaps overlooked when it comes to his qualities. Alba is a top class full back and would not come cheap but at twenty seven and with the relationship he does have with Guardiola a new challenge in England and an opportunity to be play for the manager again may tempt a move. This may just be the least likely of the three for Manchester City to sign but one deal they would love to pull off.
This Manchester City squad is the second oldest in the Premier League so getting a blend of younger players in this squad will be key for Guardiola. Could Guardiola try and bring the illustrious David Alaba with him from Bayern that would be considered massively unlikely. He may need to look at younger options to give himself more options, with Jordan Amavi at Aston Villa still highly rated in the game despite the clubs disastrous campaign, Ben Chilwell the highly rated young Leicester City left back might be in high demand this summer and possibly a move to take the highly rated Brazilian Wendell from Leverkusen.