Manchester City looking to trim the edges

Posted on August 20, 2014

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Manchester City made a convincing start to the Premier League season as they look to retain their title.  Despite the fact it was only the first game of another long domestic and European campaign for the Sky Blues, the 0-2 away victory over Newcastle United kick-started their season in the best possible fashion.

Manuel Pellegrini has overseen another busy summer with several new arrivals adding to an already bloated squad, making competition for a first team place fierce once again.  Porto duo, Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala arrived at the club for a fee of £12 million and £32 million respectively.  Goalkeeper, Willy Caballero joined from Malaga for £6 million and right back, Bacary Sagna arrived from Arsenal on a free transfer.

Pound for pound, City has arguably the best squad in the league with at least two players for each position in the team.  And despite the exits of several players in Gareth Barry, Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia, there’s still room for City’s squad to be trimmed further.  Recent reports suggest at least 4 first team players could be on their way out before the end of the transfer window.  Namely, Matija Nastasić, Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair and John Guidetti.

It’s not surprising that City are looking to get rid of some of their fringe players, especially the likes of Richards, Sinclair and Guidetti who (through no fault of their own) have failed to make an impact in City’s first team in recent seasons.  City are looking to trim their squad in order to meet the criteria set out by FIFA’s financial fair play regulations (FFP), meaning players could be sold on the cheap thus presenting a good opportunity for clubs worldwide to acquire City’s surplus talent.

Richards has endured a torrid time over the past three seasons.  The 26-year-old City defender has not managed a solid run of League games since the 2011/12 season and has spent most of his time during that period either on the bench or recovering from injury.  Richards made a great impression when he first burst onto the scene at City and there was hope that he could become a key player for both club and country.

Richards captaining City against Tottenham

Richards captaining City against Tottenham

He made his debut for the England senior side in a friendly against the Netherlands in November 2006.  Richards showed he had the raw ability to succeed on the world stage by shackling Arjen Robben for 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw.  However, it’s been almost all downhill for the strong defender since then and a move away from City is now well overdue.

Richards has been linked with a number of Premier League sides including Newcastle, Liverpool and Arsenal and a player of his ability should attract the attention of the top sides.  However, susceptibility to injury and probable wage demands could prove to be a stumbling block to a potential transfer.  Hopefully, Richards will get his transfer and finally realise that early potential.

Matija Nastasić is the most surprising, potential casualty of the bunch.  The young Serbian centre back was a regular starter alongside Vincent Kompany during the 2012/13 season and it seemed as though he would was the long term option in the centre of defence.  He’s still only 21 years of age but with the arrival of Mangala, Nastasić looks to be on his way out.  Although, he suffered a few injury problems last season, he would be a solid signing as long as he has a senior partner to marshal him.  Arsenal were again rumoured to be interested, however, there is also interest from the continent with Juventus linked to the Serbian.

Scott Sinclair has seen so little competitive football since he joined City that it’s a surprise he hasn’t left sooner.  A loan stint at West Brom last season yielded little to no reward for the skillful winger and he hasn’t come anywhere near the form that he showed during his time at Swansea.  He has already had to rebuild his career once when he moved to the Welsh side from Chelsea in 20120 and now it looks like he will have to do the same again.  A move back to Swansea with familiar surroundings and previous success could help him to revitalize a twice stagnated career.   And hopefully, he can return to the form that once had him touted as a contender for an England call up.

Sinclair during his uneventful spell at West Brom

Sinclair during his uneventful spell at West Brom

Swedish forward, John Guidetti was once labelled ‘the next Ibrahimović’ but he has also found his opportunities at City limited.  He made his breakthrough whilst on loan at Feyenoord during the 2011/12 season where he took the Eredivisie by storm, scoring 20 goals in 23 appearances for the Rotterdam side.  His progress was interrupted by a serious leg injury, the circumstances of which are a little strange to say the least.  He spent the following year returning to fitness and eventually went on-loan to Stoke City for the back end of the 2013/14 Premier League campaign, with little success.

During his years with City, Guidetti has always sat in the shadows behind the big name stars, Mario Balotelli, Edin Džeko, Sergio Agüero et al.  Before Roberto Mancini left, there was hope that he would play a more active role in the side, however, Mancini’s sacking and the arrival of Pellegrini and Alvaro Negredo respectively put paid to that idea.  Guidetti is still a young player at 22 years of age and it’s now time for him to move on to find regular first team football and find the goal scoring form he showed at Feyenoord in 2011/12.  However, he is still unproven in the Premier League which could mean that he’s too much of a risky signing.

To City’s detriment, FIFA are beginning to tighten their grip over the FFP rules.   Pellegrini’s squad needs trimming to balance the books and City’s fringe players are arguably the best around.  The most important thing however, is the benefits to the players themselves, for whom regular first team football will be invaluable.  Hopefully, this is also the first piece of proof that FFP can be enforced with positive outcomes and prevent the big clubs from stock piling young players.

By Jamie Allen

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Posted in: Football