The need for a Manchester City makeover has been a popular topic since the post-Yuletide collapse of their latest Premier League title defence, and has now been officially acknowledged by Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
In discussing the prospect of high-profile signings to spearhead their mission to reclaim top spot at [3.9], the Citizens chairman noted that: “There are some players who have served us well. Maybe it’s time for them to move to their next challenge.”
With James Milner already taking up that invitation by signing for Liverpool, there are ten men left from Roberto Mancini’s 2011/12 title-winning squad and, in assessing each one by one, we find a case for easing out at least four of those…
England’s number one recovered so well from his 2013/14 dip that classy understudy Willy Caballero was limited to two Premier League or Champions League starts from a possible 46 in 2014/15. If David de Gea joins Real Madrid, Hart will again be a frontrunner for the PFA Team of the Year gloves in 2015/16.
After falling behind Aleksandar Kolarov for the first time in the starting left back battle in 2013/14, Clichy edged back in front last term, though that distinction wasn’t necessarily positive given that it was their worst defensive campaign in five years. They conceded nine times in his final three starts, earning his adversary a recall. At 29, he isn’t likely to improve significantly any time soon.
As mentioned above, Clichy was favoured for much of 2014/15, but Kolarov was picked for the last six encounters and the runners-up won the lot, keeping four clean sheets. Left back is a position where the Citizens should be able to upgrade, yet it won’t be easy to operate a two-in, two-out policy this summer, and Kolarov is more worthy of being the one retained.
The captain’s iffy 2014/15 form did nothing to aid Eliaquim Mangala’s adjustment from Portuguese football. Man City’s shocking figures since February 24 – six losses in seven (one clean sheet) with Kompany starting versus seven wins in seven (six clean sheets) without – suggest that he is no longer integral, so why not sell now while he is aged 29 and can still attract a decent fee?
Even in a below-par season, Zabaleta was one of Man City’s most effective performers: his 3.7 tackles per Premier League game was a rate only bettered by Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva and was one of their least prolific defensive foulers too with one per match. The Argentine remains a fan favourite.
Silva is halfway towards a testimonial at the Etihad Stadium and is every bit as essential as he was back in 2010 before Man City had “arrived”. The Spaniard had the second highest key pass average in the Premier League in 2014/15, but his mandate is no longer just creating – he finished off 12 league goals as well.
Toure is the most divisive name on this list. By following last year’s birthday cake fiasco with a less accomplished season than his spectacular 2013/14, the Ivorian has led many to conclude that, at 32, he is no longer worth the aggravation or exorbitant pay packet. He still hit double figures from midfield though despite an African Cup of Nations detour, and there is nobody of his ability in his role currently in the squad, so it is probably wise to resist utilising the axe for another year.
Having produced arguably his finest campaign for Man City as they regained the title in 2013/14, he was an outsider in 2014/15, starting 18 of 38 league fixtures. He was out-assisted by James Milner, while Jesus Navas equalled or outperformed him by all key wide-man metrics. Nasri turns 28 this month, so it makes sense to shift him while resale value exists.
Kun enjoyed the highest-scoring season of his career, was the Premier League’s top goal-getter and – perhaps most encouragingly given past injury concerns – made 33 league appearances, his second best figure in six years. Having only recently turned 27, there isn’t a debate to be had here.
Dzeko was the unsung hero of Man City’s 2011/12 and 2013/14 league triumphs, scoring 14 goals in the first and 16 in the second, but is coming off his least impactful season: 11 league starts and four strikes. The signing of the younger Wilfried Bony and talk of one up front becoming the favoured formula threatens to phase him out further, so a parting might prove beneficial to all parties.