x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Manchester City need to make big decisions

With the long wait for a domestic championship now finally over Duncan Castles asks: what next for the Premier League winners?

Although he played a vital part in rejuvenating Manchester City's strong finish to the season, Carlos Tevez, left, is likely to be moved on by Roberto Mancini, right, if the club's valuation is met. Paul Ellis / AFP
Although he played a vital part in rejuvenating Manchester City's strong finish to the season, Carlos Tevez, left, is likely to be moved on by Roberto Mancini, right, if the club's valuation is met. Paul Ellis / AFP

Will City spend big on players this summer?

Yes, if the conditions are right. City are thought to be in the market for at least two new forwards, another creative player, a central midfielder and a left-sided central defender. A principal target is the PFA Player of the Year, Robin van Persie.If Arsenal repeat the process of last summer with Samir Nasri and eventually sell their captain against the wishes of Arsene Wenger it will be for at least £20 million (Dh118m).

The wages on offer at City make them favourites to extract Eden Hazard from Lille despite serious interest from Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. Again the transfer fee will be substantial. In Gareth Bale's case, the main competition for City comes from Barcelona and Real Madrid, and the Spanish clubs have more chance of breaking Daniel Levy's resistance to a sale.

Other players likely to be on City's recruitment list include Theo Walcott as he enters the final year of his Arsenal contract; Ezequiel Lavezzi, available from Napoli for a fixed buyout fee of €31m (Dh147m); Athletic Bilbao's midfielder Ander Herrera and the Ajax central defender Jan Vertonghen. With each one, City can outmanoeuvre any English rival on wages.

Who is likely to leave the club?

The flip side of City's financial muscle is the problems they face moving on players who have not met Roberto Mancini's generally exacting standards. Wayne Bridge, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz were all remunerated well beyond their market value upon joining and have proved hard to dispense with. City will try again this summer.

Of the current squad, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, Adam Johnson, Aleksandar Kolarov and Carlos Tevez will all be sold if City receive the right offer. The experiment of handing Owen Hargreaves a one-year deal failed and David Pizarro's loan deal is not to be made permanent. Kolo Toure will be allowed to find himself a new club and Nigel de Jong may also leave.

How big a factor will Financial Fair Play (FFP) be for them?

The ownership's strategy for establishing City as a major player in European football involved huge initial investment in all areas to push the club to a level where annual revenues would align with expenditure. With FFP regulations looming, City signed a £350-million, 10-year shirt sponsorship and naming rights agreement with Etihad Airways. They know they need to radically reduce the £197.5m loss announced for the 2011 financial year.

FFP, though, is a complicated and political exercise in which losses of €45m are allowed over the initial two-season monitoring period and "break-even figures" exclude expenditure on items such as youth development, community development and the depreciation and financing of tangible fixed assets. While City know they have to reduce losses, they are also aware that Uefa plans a "soft implementation" of the regulations, avoiding enforced exclusions from European competition. Doubling turnover to £300m will be more of a priority for the club's new chief executive than cutting costs as City continues to pay the grandest wages in English football.

What will happen with Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez?

You could not blame City if they have grown tired of Balotelli and his apparently perpetual problems. A decision to sell a footballer who tantalises with his ability then terrorises with his behaviour was, according to sources, made before the sending off at Arsenal that looked to have ended their title chances. Balotelli's regular trips to Italy would suggest he is agitating for a return.

They will be content to recoup the striker's €22m purchase price and consider AC Milan more likely buyers than Inter Milan. Persona non grata during his self-imposed exile, Tevez may now not be moved on by City. The club refused to sell the Argentine in January after no one met their valuation of the player. Potential buyers were wary of the player's past behaviour and his £198,000-a-week salary. His cooperative behaviour on the training ground and contribution to the title run-in have seen City entertain the possibility of retaining Tevez. Whether player and adviser are as prepared to accept the status quo remains to be seen.

What should they do to make an impact in the Uefa Champions League?

So uninspiring is Mancini's record in European club competition there was an argument to change the manager. That potential strategy, however, became moot when United shed so many points in the title run-in. This season's experiences - positive and negative - will aid the players who remain for their second Champions League campaign. Mancini, though, may need to develop a more flexible tactical approach and improve his man management of the squad.

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