Man City transfers may force Pep Guardiola to prove himself wrong again

Pep Guardiola Manager of Manchester City
Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City, acknowledges the fans after the team's defeat in the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2024 in London, England. 

After reaching the Champions League final with Manchester City for the first time, Pep Guardiola set out what appeared to be his manifesto for an extended stay at the club.

City had just reclaimed the Premier League for the manager's third in four years and were about to face Chelsea in the showpiece game on the European calendar when Guardiola was asked by former United defender Rio Ferdinand about keeping players motivated. "How many Premier Leagues did you win?" he asked. "Did you have the same squad from the first to the sixth? No. You have to shake, you have to move. With the same guys, it is almost impossible."

Moving on players at the right time has been a hallmark of City's time under Guardiola, sporting director Txiki Begiristain and CEO Ferran Soriano, with the latter two wary of the mistakes they made at Barcelona when they acted on emotion rather than reason and allowed Frank Rijkaard to continue with a squad he couldn't control before Guardiola then stepped in. When the City manager said this, the club had only recently made the power play move to allow record goalscorer Sergio Aguero to leave on a free transfer so they could sign either Erling Haaland or Harry Kane.

Three years and three more league titles on, it is notable how little shaking there has been. No striker ended up arriving in 2021 as City made do after failing to land Kane or Haaland, and six players - more than a quarter of the squad - have won six Premier Leagues with Guardiola.

After radical change in the first two summers with the manager to build a squad of players ready for his football, it has been far more a case of evolution than revolution at the Etihad; the most radical window they have had since then is probably last year, and that was only because Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan left when their exits were not planned for. That isn't to say that the Blues haven't continued moving forward and adding to the squad, but it hasn't been in the way that Guardiola indicated was the only way to do it.

This summer looks like being more of the same; Ederson, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva could all end their lengthy stays at the club, but in each instance it would be the player driving the change rather than the club. And unless there are significant outgoings, it is hard to see significant incomings - that talk of Bruno Guimaraes's release clause being triggered has gone awfully quiet.

There will need to be some fresh impetus provided again this summer, but the likes of Guardiola's first two big transfer windows at the club may not be seen again until there is a new manager at the Etihad wanting to shape the squad the way they want to. Until then, Guardiola will again be tasked with turning 'almost impossible' into reality.

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