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Manchester City

How Man City will line up in 2019-20

14:30 GMT+3 03/08/2019
Sterling Guardiola Rodri Man City 2019
After the quadruple dream fell one trophy short last season, Pep Guardiola's squad depth will be key this year

It’s been a relatively uneventful few months for Manchester City.

After becoming the first men’s team to wrap up the English domestic treble, strategic recruitment has been the name of the game on the transfer market, rather than the big spending they have become known for.

With City and Liverpool having created a significant gap between themselves and the rest of the Premier League though – and the latter not spending much either – the reigning champions remain favourites to lift the title once again.

Some believe that Pep Guardiola’s hunt for Champions League glory, which he hasn’t tasted since 2011, could distract him from a third successive league triumph, but with the depth and quality he has at the Etihad, he will be looking at all four trophies on offer once again.

The Citizens fell just short of that well-documented quadruple dream last term, but they have strengthened in key areas this summer.

With three title defences on their plate, it promises to be another exciting season for Guardiola’s men.

Goalkeepers

There is unlikely to be much surprise in between the sticks this season for City, with Ederson to be the undisputed No.1 once again.

The Brazilian was named in the PFA Team of the Year last term after keeping 20 clean sheets on the way to the Premier League title, and will not be usurped by Claudio Bravo as the 36-year-old hopes for a less injury-plagued campaign.

Arijanet Muric's loan move to Nottingham Forest opens the door for Bravo to be City’s cup ‘keeper, however. Muric played in every Carabao Cup tie except the final last season, and was the Citizens’ penalty shootout hero in the quarter-final win over Leicester.

Young shot-stopper Zack Steffen arrived from Columbus Crew for £7m ($8.5m) this summer too, but he has been loaned out also, joining Fortuna Dusseldorf for the season.

That means 21-year-old Daniel Grimshaw, who deputised on the bench during Bravo’s injuries last season, will be City’s third-choice for the coming campaign.

Defenders

City’s only two first-team departures this summer have been defenders: Vincent Kompany leaving to become Anderlecht’s player-manager, while Fabian Delph joined Everton in a deal worth £8.5m ($10m).

The latter’s exit would have left Guardiola’s side lacking real depth at left-back as back-up to the injury-prone Benjamin Mendy, who only played 10 games last season.

Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko, both natural midfielders, filled the Frenchman’s place during his injuries, but City’s re-signing of former youngster Angelino gives them a better fit for the coming season.

The Dutchman returns from PSV to give Guardiola well-needed cover in that area of his defence.

Kompany’s departure will leave a leadership void, but it won’t be felt as much on paper.

Aymeric Laporte and John Stones will be Guardiola's preferred centre-back pairing, with Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala providing cover.

There could be a change at right-back though, with City in talks with Juventus over a swap deal that would see Joao Cancelo arrive at the Etihad, with Danilo going the other way.

The Brazilian has been back-up to Kyle Walker for the past two seasons and could see more playing time in Turin, while Cancelo would give Guardiola exactly what he wants in adding more competition to the squad.

It's unlikely the 25-year-old would take Walker's place in the starting line-up straight away, however.

Midfielders

City’s biggest and most impressive signing this summer has been that of Rodri, who arrived from Atletico Madrid for a hefty £63m (€70m/$79m) fee.

The 23-year-old Spain international is seen as the heir to Fernandinho’s holding midfield throne, and will provide important depth in a position that City struggled to fill when the 34-year-old was unavailable last season.

His arrival could well see Fernandinho’s minutes limited this season, particularly given both players’ ages, but the duo are still likely to see plenty of football each given the amount of games City will play.

Further forward, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva will be two of the first names of the teamsheet for Guardiola, but the latter was often part of City's front three last season. 

That means David Silva, playing his final season in City blue, should not expect to play a lesser role this year, particularly after he shone last term during De Bruyne's injury woes.

The 33-year-old should get plenty of rest too. Ilkay Gundogan adds depth, as will youngster Phil Foden, while Zinchenko could play more minutes in his preferred department with the arrival of Angelino.

Forwards

Bernardo Silva played more games as a midfielder last season, but he operated often on the right-hand side of City’s front three – something which could be prominent this season given the depth in midfield, and even more so if Sane leaves. 

Raheem Sterling featured plenty on the left and also through the middle, providing versatility to complement his goal-scoring. When fully fit, he will always have a place in Guardiola's team - regardless of where it is.

Riyad Mahrez will continue as a back-up option, though a potential departure for Sane could open the door for the Algerian, who guided his nation to glory at this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations, to see more game time.

The Germany international is being pursued by Bayern Munich amidst his desire to play more minutes, which could be a promise made if he does resist a return to his homeland. Whether he stays or goes will alter Guardiola’s options a lot.

Sergio Aguero should be City’s first-choice striker yet again, with Gabriel Jesus yet to really challenge him for that place.

Jesus comes into the campaign off the back of a Copa America triumph with Brazil though, even scoring in the final as they beat Peru 3-1, so will be keen to push the Argentine as much as possible for that starting place.

How Man City could line up

Guardiola’s love of rotation, the depth and versatility among the players in his squad and the amount of games City are likely to play this season all make his XI prone to regular change.

Ederson, Walker, Laporte, Stones, Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Sterling are the seven one would expect to be guaranteed starters when fully fit, with competition for places making the rest of the team very interesting.

The importance of the game will likely determine how much David Silva and Fernandinho play, particularly the latter after Rodri’s arrival.

The Brazilian could play a similar role to what Kompany did last season, the skipper stepping in for hugely significant fixtures to guide the team to victory at any cost.

Mendy’s injuries will play a big role in how much Angelino and Zinchenko play, too, while De Bruyne’s fitness will be key to any quadruple dream.

The midfield department is certainly the most competitive, which will be music to the ears of Guardiola as he looks to keep his engine room fresh across four fronts.

The only questions over this side are in that front three, where their options are slightly thinner than the rest of the team. 

However, City's definition of 'thin' is much different to anyone else's, and it is unlikely to raise much concern - even if Sane does leave.

City had incredible depth last season, but they look even stronger across all areas this time around.

Injuries are expected, as always, but Guardiola’s men look unstoppable once more.