Pep Guardiola has told Manchester City chiefs their squad needs a £200million facelift – with as many as EIGHT new starting players required to make the club a major title-winning force.
The incoming Etihad manager has urged City’s board to make wholesale changes to a team which only scraped into the Premier League’s top four under Manuel Pellegrini.
And even with the sovereign wealth of Abu Dhabi behind the club, City know it will take them TWO summer windows to transform their squad to Guardiola’s liking – with most of his intended targets said to be valued at ‘£25million plus’.
It is believed that, among City’s current squad, only Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho are seen as ideal starters by Guardiola.
Skipper Vincent Kompany is a possible fourth, although the injury-prone Belgian’s fitness record means that central defence is a top priority for the incoming boss.
City have already started implementing many of Guardiola’s demands and always knew this would be a busy summer in the transfer market.
But the belief in the City hierarchy that the current squad did not live up to their potential under Pellegrini last term is not wholly supported by his successor – with Guardiola not regarding many of them as good enough for a club targeting domestic and European dominance.
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is expected to become the first major signing of the Guardiola era next week in a deal worth around £20m.
City are also working on deals for Athletic Bilbao’s French defender Aymeric Laporte and Schalke winger Leroy Sane – though neither youngster will be given up without a fight by their current clubs.
Guardiola is also keen to promote academy talent and bring in some English signings, especially as Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling both face uncertain futures at the Etihad.
Guardiola wants a keeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and so Hart, despite being a world-class shot-stopper, is likely to be replaced by Barcelona’s German keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Sterling is said to be suffering a crisis of confidence, believing the ‘two-touch’ style of play demanded of him by Manuel Pellegrini – and also favoured by Guardiola – does not suit his natural strengths of dribbling at pace at opposition defenders.
While the 21-year-old only arrived at City 12 months ago, he is struggling to justify a £49m price tag and his long-term future may lie elsewhere – even if any sale this summer seems unlikely.
John Stones, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Rose have all been discussed as possible summer targets.
Arsenal are unwilling to sell midfield man Wilshere but could allow Oxlade-Chamberlain to depart.
Everton will demand at least £45m for centre-back Stones – who is also wanted by Chelsea and Manchester United – meaning that Laporte is considered a more attractive option.
Spurs left-back Rose is seen as a realistic target and may be allowed to leave Spurs for around £15m.