At Manchester City, new boss Pep Guardiola is expected to regularly win titles. The Premier League is arguably the most competitive league in Europe but Guardiola must prove his credentials in this tough league.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach has been very busy in the transfer market and has made several high-profile additions. He still needs to strengthen the defence but it already is a very dangerous team. Here is the strongest possible eleven for Guardiola and Manchester City this season:
Joe Hart: The England international has been under massive pressure recently and his recent performances suggest he is going through a rough patch at the moment. Whether this is just a temporary patch or he is a goalkeeper in decline is something that we will only get to know as the season progresses. However, the fact that Pep Guardiola is targeting Marc-Andre Ter Stegen suggests Hart’s position remains insecure.
Bacary Sagna: Upon signing for Man City from Arsenal, Sagna only had a bit-part role to play for his side. However, last season, the player proved to be very important in Manuel Pellegrini’s plans, making 27 Premier League starts. He enjoyed a good Euro 2016 with his side and is expected to continue his good form into the first season with new boss Pep Guardiola.
Vincent Kompany: Guardiola has ensured he has a very lethal attack but the defence looks equally fragile at the moment. Selling Martin Demechelis has also left the centre back positions a bit thin and the former Barcelona coach has to add a quality defender as too often, in Kompany’s absence, Man City’s backline has struggled and their title challenge fell apart last season.
Nicolas Otamendi: Otamendi faces competition from the erratic Eliaquim Mangala but easily comes on top. The player signed from Valencia for £32m last summer and enjoyed a fairly good season but he still needs to get much more consistent. The fact that he is so comfortable on the ball and happy to pass his way out of defence means errors will occur, and he needs to work on this to ensure City can rely upon him, especially in the absence of their captain. Young Jason Denayer will also hope to get chances to prove himself.
Aleksandar Kolarov: The 30-year-old has been with City for six seasons now and is expected to make it to seven. Gael Clichy provides him with competition for the spot but the Frenchman is expected to be sold and Guardiola should certainly bring in a youthful left-back, someone who could cover for Kolarov this season, and eventually step in as the main man.
Fernandinho: Fernandinho enjoyed his best season as a City player last time out. The Brazilian looks set for an important role under Pep Guardiola who has described him as a “quick, aggressive and intelligent” player who is capable of playing in ten positions, including centre back. Yaya Toure and Fernando are the other available options for the spot.
Ilkay Gundogan: The 25-year-old signed from Borussia Dortmund earlier this summer for around £21m. Last season, he was deployed in a deeper position but he loves bringing the ball forward, so it would depend on who accompanies him in the midfield. With a more defensive player, he would go forward a lot and contribute to attacks and with someone like Toure or Silva, he would sit back and orchestrate play from a deeper position
Kevin de Bruyne: KdB joined for a club-record £55 million last season and proved his price tag and racked up 13 goals and 9 assists in his first season at the Manchester side. The 25-year-old should build on his successful season and alongside quality teammates and under a manager as good as Guardiola, he should do even better than he has.
David Silva: Silva was one of the many players who struggled through the season, looking lethargic and lacklustre on a number of occasions. This could be pinned to recurring injury troubles and the fact that he still managed to grab 11 assists in 22 starts really speaks of his ability and class. To understand how important David Silva is for the club, one should just see how badly City struggle when he’s either injured or doesn’t play too well. There are more options for City this season as talented youngsters Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling can step in, but Silva will still remain the preferred option.
Nolito: Nolito was snapped up by City, with some competition from Barcelona, after he grabbed headlines last season scoring 12 goals and grabbing 7 assists in just 29 games. The season before was better, he scored 13 goals and assisted another 13 goals, but in 37 games. The 29-year-old is likely to play on the left-wing, and move forward and combine with Sergio Aguero up front. The Spaniard possesses a great goal threat and should obviously be up close to the six-yard box.
Sergio Aguero: The 28-year-old is the best striker in the league, it is only his fitness that remains a worry. The Argentinean goes missing for chunks of the season with injury issues. If he can stay fit throughout, there is no doubt City can win all trophies out there. He is set to be crucial again if City hope to challenge for silverware, and the early signs from preseason suggest that with all the expensive additions to the squad, Aguero will still be City’s most dangerous player.