Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola is heading to Manchester City next season, though what kind of situation he’ll find when his plane touches down at Manchester Airport is anyone’s guess.
Specifically, the team’s place in next year’s Champions League is far from assured. Right now, City holds the fourth place in the Premier League table — and the league’s final qualifying spot for the Champions League.
Manchester United and West Ham are both just one point behind them, however, with eight matches to play. With City’s injuries piling up, it’s no given that it will finish high enough to play in Europe at all next season.
Money and Pep Guardiola’s legacy of winning are strong lures for players, though, and the rumor mill is already churning out potential transfer targets for City during this summer’s window.
UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rule, as flimsy as it seems to be, will dictate some departures from the squad to accommodate the new players Guardiola would like to bring in. That and some may be going because they won’t fit in Pep’s system.
Here are the five players that will be heading out the door first for Manchester City this summer:
Yaya Toure — Guardiola sold Toure to City back in 2010 because he didn’t fit the system. Six years later, he’s even less suited for the formation and style Guardiola wants to play, and even Toure’s agent is suggesting that the Ivorian will be playing elsewhere next season.
The new-look City will need younger, more agile midfielders. Toure, for all of his gifts, doesn’t fit that bill.
Wilfried Bony — Bony looks to be another square peg in Guardiola’s team sheet filled with round holes. He’s a true No. 9, which means he likes the ball played to him directly, and not in the rapid-fire passing style that has become the trademark of Guardiola’s teams.
His big money move from Swansea hasn’t really worked out, and the team isn’t going to get anywhere near the £28m it spent for him, but it’s hard to see him sticking around for the rebuild.
Martin Demichelis — Anyone who watched the Manchester Derby knows why the Argentine has been parked on the bench for much of the season. He’s a favorite of Pellegrini and has loads of experience, but lacks the pace and mobility to play for a top-tier club.
He’s also 35, which means his playing days at any club may be numbered.
Aleksandar Kolarov — The 30-year-old Serbian has appeared in 26 league matches for City this season, but may not be the best fit for Guardiola’s plans.
He’s attack-minded enough, but lacks the blazing speed that the new manager wants (and needs) from his full backs.
Samir Nasri — Nasri is young enough (28) and talented enough to stick around for the new-look Manchester City. But, his penchant for off-field drama and reputation for stirring up trouble in the locker room might make him expendable in the mind of the new boss.
He’s already being linked with a move to Valencia — along with Pellegrini.