Should City offload Zinchenko?

August 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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Manchester United midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko continues to be linked with a move to La Liga, with Real Betis the most likely destination, but he’d been turning down personal turns with clubs in order to fight for his place at the Etihad Stadium.

Given he’s struggled for playing time under Pep Guardiola, few could argue there’s a place for him in the first-team, and the message may be finally sinking in. Latest reports state Zinchenko has made a U-turn on his decision to stay and would be open for an exit. Whether that’s permanent or not remains to be seen, but it may be best for all parties that the midfielder is moved on.

Couldn’t take his chance when given small opportunity

Signed from Ufa in 2016, the 21-year-old has gone on to make just 14 appearances in all competitions, having spent his debut season out on loan at Dutch Eredivisie outfit PSV Eindhoven (17 appearances). Zinchenko, while a central midfielder, has only featured at left-back under Guardiola.

With Mendy having suffered a serious knee injury, the Ukrainian international provided cover along with Fabian Delph and Danilo. Now Mendy is fit and starting on a regular basis, there doesn’t appear to be room for Zinchenko given the competition for places.

He isn’t going to feature at left-back as three players are ahead of him in the pecking order. Operating in central midfield looks unlikely too, with Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva, Fernandinho, Delph and Kevin de Bruyne in his way. As a result, Zinchenko has no place in the first-team and will surely have to leave to get regular football.

Loan move could suit both parties

With Zinchenko having turned down a permanent move away from City earlier this summer, a loan deal might be best for both parties. After helping the Sky Blues win the Premier League title last season, the Ukrainian international doesn’t want to leave the party just yet as he’s being mentored by Guardiola.

A loan move, however, would allow him the chance to get first-team football and still return to City next summer. And should he impress with another side, the 21-year-old could get himself back in favour with his manager. So far, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Real Betis have been closely linked to his signature, but both sides appear to want Zinchenko permanently.

Should the Citizens offload Zinchenko? Or should they find a resolution that allows him to stay contracted to City while getting first-team football elsewhere for a season?

Mendy giving City a new dimension in attack

August 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy has started the new season in fantastic form, making three assists in as many games. The French international is coming off the back of winning the World Cup and has been impressive from the off.

Mendy is adept at beating his opponent in a one-on-one and whipping a good ball into the box to set up a scoring opportunity. He’s a very aggressive left-back in both boxes and has given the Sky Blues a new dimension in attack. It’s easy to see why Pep Guardiola paid £52m to sign him.

Combative in defence, bold and creative in attack

Mendy has it all. The 24-year-old is highly combative when called upon defensively but has the all the attributes to be a threat at the other end of the pitch. In the Premier League this season, he’s averaged a tackle or interception every 24 minutes. Few players get the better of him, and Mendy has only given away one foul in the process. He’s the perfect modern-day defender.

In City’s side, he fits like a glove. Given a license to get forward by Guardiola, the Frenchman has created six chances in his three appearances and has made four successful dribbles. He made two assists in City’s opening league game against Arsenal and one against Huddersfield Town days later. In addition to having great decision-making and composure, Mendy boasts excessive pace and strength to outmatch the majority of his opponents.

Making up for lost time

Mendy ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament against Crystal Palace on September 23, 2017 and didn’t return until mid-April, 2018. The left-back made only seven league appearances and had one assist, but he’s been on fire in 2018/19. Mendy has certainly made up for lost time and is unlikely to lose his place in the side unless his form dips.

Having a full-back capable of taking on their opponent to get balls into the box for the striker to finish is a very useful asset to the side. And if said player can marry such attacking tendencies with discipline at the back to not to dive in, they could end up costing the same amount as Mendy. Guardiola has paid tribute to the defender already this season.

As per Sky Sports News, he said: “We could not demand Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko do what Benjamin Mendy does, in terms of going up and down the wing, attacking space and having his physicality because they have different physical conditions.

“We saw (Mendy’s quality) in Monaco in France, his quality to go forward. When a player has this quality, we have to use it, because it’s his ability to create problems.”

Can Manchester City continue winning run against Arsenal?

August 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Preview 

Manchester City travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon to face Arsenal in their first game of the new Premier League season. City are defending champions and are the bookies’ favourites to come out on top this weekend and retain the league title come May, whereas Arsenal’s expectations are to finish in the top-four and bring Champions League football back next season.

Last season, City thrashed the Gunners 3-0 at the Emirates, days after beating them 3-0 in the League Cup final. They won 3-0 at home months previously too, so they’ll be fancied for a repeat. However, it will be a new and improved Arsenal they’re coming up against, with new manager Unai Emery having recruited well to strengthen the weak areas of the squad over the summer. Arsenal will be a tough opponent on Sunday.

City tails up after Community Shield victory

The Sky Blues are coming off the back of a 2-0 win over Chelsea in the final of the Community Shield which will have done wonders for their confidence. City have added only one player to a squad which has differing levels of fitness due to the number of individuals who were at the 2018 World Cup in Russia over the summer – Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City.

Despite having a difficult juggling act to select a fully-fit side in the Community Shield, manager Pep Guardiola got the new season off to winners ways with yet more silverware against an opponent who could be challenging for the Premier League title this season. City played well and looked convincing winners, so they may have a minor edge over Arsenal who have failed to win two of their last three friendlies in 90 minutes.

Head-to-head record hints at a City victory to come

Manchester City have beaten Arsenal and scored three goals in each of their last three meetings in all competitions, losing only once since December 2015. City have been consistent against the Gunners, but playing at the Emirates might be an important factor.

Arsenal have only lost once at home to City in any competition since 2013 – they don’t often come unstuck in their own soil.

As for the manager head-to-heads, however, Guardiola has been dominant when coming up against Emery. In their last 10 meetings, Pep has won six and drawn four, losing none. It’s worth noting that each meeting is in La Liga when Guardiola was manager of Barcelona and Emery of Valencia.

Can he break the winless run on Sunday? Or will City reign supreme in this fixture once more?

Why aren’t Man City making an official bid for Pjanic?

July 31, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Rumors 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has played down talk of signing Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic this summer. The 28-year-old has been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium after Jorginho snubbed the Sky Blues and joined up with his old Napoli manager at Chelsea. Pjanic would be a great signing for City, as he’s a playmaker who scores and creates goals and seldom relinquishes possession. So why aren’t the Citizens making a bid?

Juventus asking for too much money

According to Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror, Juventus want £90m for the Bosnia-Herzegovina international, which would smash City’s transfer record. The club haven’t pulled off much transfer business this summer, only signing Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City, but it doesn’t appear they will meet Juve’s asking price to complete their second signing of the window.

The Old Lady signed Pjanic for a bargain in 2016, paying only £25m to AS Roma to bring him to Turin. He’s gone on to make 91 appearances in all competitions, scoring and creating 43 goals while winning two Serie A titles and two Coppa Italias. Last season, Pjanic contributed 21 goals in 44 games in all competitions.

He’s a talented player who could thrive under a manager like Pep Guardiola, but City aren’t going to pay £90m to bring him to the Etihad Stadium. It’s a blow as the central midfielder is perfectly suited to their style of play. Last season, he averaged 67 passes-per-game with a 90% completion ratio while averaging a tackle or interception every 25 minutes.

The player himself has tried to distance himself from rumours surrounding his Juventus future too, saying in a recent interview: “I listen to a lot of things that are not true. I’m cool. I’m preparing for my new season. That’s what’s the most important.

“What I did the last two seasons for Juventus was really great, and I am happy with what I’m doing here. I am cool, and I don’t care about what they are writing because I listen and I read a lot of things. A lot of things are not true.”

So, Pjanic may not come to the Etihad Stadium as a replacement for Jorginho unless Juventus lower their asking price. But considering the midfielder has three years remaining on his existing deal and is indispensable to the squad, why would they? Fans will surely be hoping they don’t give up on the Bosnia-Herzegovina playmaker, but Pjanic could prove to be an expensive pursuit.

Mahrez will be fit for Man City’s Community Shield clash with Chelsea

July 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News, Transfer Rumors 

Manchester City have been given good news on Riyad Mahrez, with the Algerian international given the all-clear after an ankle knock threatened to sideline him for Sunday’s Community Shield final with Chelsea. Mahrez picked up the initial injury against Bayern Munich in last Saturday’s pre-season friendly and wore a protective boot after being brought off which had fans fearing the worse.

However, the former Leicester City winger had a scan on the ankle which has revealed no significant damage. Mahrez could now be in the squad to face Chelsea, but it’s highly unlikely he will start the match. He joined the Sky Blues on July 10 for £60m and could be pushing for a regular spot in the starting lineup when fit. With so many options in attack, Mahrez’s absence wouldn’t harm City too badly.

Mahrez could start ahead of Sane

Manager Pep Guardiola was desperate to procure his signature this summer, so he’ll be relieved to see Mahrez hasn’t sustained a serious ankle injury. The 27-year-old has stiff competitions for a starting place – Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva – but it could be Sane who makes way for the new arrival.

Guardiola has been public about his criticism of the German international in pre-season, suggesting Sane still need to do a lot of work off the ball before he’ll be ready for the new campaign, so Mahrez has every chance of leapfrogging the 22-year-old in the pecking order.

“It depends on him. He needs more minutes and he needs to regain his principles in terms of playing without the ball. He has the talent to do that. Still, he is far away from his best,” Guardiola said.

Despite Sane coming off the back of an outstanding season with City, Mahrez is a proven talent in the Premier League and will soon get among the goals and assists in a City shirt. He shone in his final year at Leicester and is adept in transition – turning defence into attack in a matter of seconds – which will hold him in good stead at the Etihad.

City were nearly ruing their bad luck with Mahrez’s ankle injury, with Guardiola admitting he was “concerned” at the time. But now the forward could play an important role in the side this season. With Bernardo Silva having struggled for form and playing time in 2017/18, there’s reason to believe the Algerian international is somewhat of a successor.

Zinchenko to stay at Manchester City but is he good enough?

July 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Rumors 

Manchester City midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko recently revealed his desire to stay at the club despite an offer from Wolverhampton Wanderers being accepted by the Sky Blues this summer. His versatility got him playing time in 2017/18, operating as a makeshift left-back with Benjamin Mendy out injured, but it’s hard to see where he’ll fit into the team when everybody is fit. Nevertheless, he’s determined to stay in Manchester.

“To be honest, I think Manchester City is one of the best teams in the world right now. Everyone dreams of playing here, and that goes for me as well. I try to learn every single day and I’m going to fight here,” he said. “I’m ready for everything because I have to be professional. You don’t know what can happen in the future, but I’m dreaming of staying here. Everyone wants to be part of this team.”

After Chelsea beat City to the signature of Jorginho, manager Pep Guardiola stated his intention to use his midfielders on the bench and fringes of the first-team as cover. That meant the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Fabian Delph, Claudio Gomes and Zinchenko could play a somewhat important role next season. City reportedly accepted a £16m bid from Wolves for the young midfielder, however, suggesting he’s surplus to requirements.

And with only 14 appearances in all competitions after joining City from Ufa in 2016, the Ukrainian international has a tough task edging his way into the first-team. Zinchenko spent his debut campaign on loan at PSV Eindhoven and was utilised by Guardiola at left wing-back in his second season.  He’s a natural midfielder who can adapt to different roles, but there’s too much competition all over the squad.

The Sky Blues have Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva who are expected to operate in midfield, with Fernandinho anchoring, while Gundogan and Delph are waiting in the wings. In defence, Benjamin Mendy is expected to start the new season at left-back, but Delph provided a useful deputy when called upon.  Danilo has also featured on the left side of the defence.

It’s not a big surprise that Zinchenko wants to stay regardless, as City won the Premier League title with 100 points last season, but he’s unlikely to feature much in their title defence when looking at the players ahead of him in the pecking order. As a tactically-aware 21-year-old, Zinchenko would be a good signing for a lot of clubs, but is he good enough to stay at the Etihad?

Looks like Aguero will be staying at Manchester City next season

July 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News, Transfer Rumors 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was inundated with questions about the future of Sergio Aguero at the end of last season, with many outlets suggesting the Argentinean international could depart the Etihad Stadium. However, Guardiola always denied such a claim and it appears he was telling the truth considering the Sky Blues legend remains at the club ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Aguero, who has been at City since his 2011-move from Atletico Madrid, was the club’s top scorer last season, netting 21 goals in only 22 Premier League starts. The 30-year-old scored more than Raheem Sterling in fewer games but came away with little praise for his antics. He finally made the PFA Team of the Year for his antics last season, but media outlets still believed Guardiola would sell him. Why?

City have a club legend averaging close to a goal a game in the Premier League, so the Sky Blues boss will never let him go unless he was causing problems behind the scenes. And given Aguero revealed in June that his relationship with Guardiola is good and that he has no plans to leave the club this summer, the pair should continue working for at least another season.

The Argentine’s contract expires in 2020 and the striker has openly admitted he could return to his homeland when his deal is up at the Etihad. He’s been in Manchester for seven years, scoring a total of 199 goals in 292 games in all competitions and will play an important role in the squad next season.

Gabriel Jesus often replaced Aguero in the starting lineup last season and will be prominent in the starting eleven this coming campaign, but there’s still a place for the fan favourite. He’s scored 20 or more league goals in each of the last four seasons and only Harry Kane (105) has scored more than Aguero (91) during this period.

With the South American forward lacking the same athleticism and industry as Jesus, it’s of little surprise that Guardiola will occasionally rest Aguero, but his incredible goalscoring record means he’s always a threat when on the pitch. His advancing age will likely mean more appearances from the bench next season, but Aguero can still find the net in limited time.

Without him in the squad, City are short on depth in attack. Jesus, Aguero and Sterling at likely to be the first-team options up front for next season. It may seem obvious that Aguero is staying at the Etihad, but that wasn’t always the case earlier in the summer. Fans will be delighted the rumours have died down now.

Is Bernardo Silva under pressure after Mahrez’s arrival?

July 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Targets 

Pep Guardiola finally landed his man this summer, with Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez making the long-awaited switch to Manchester City. The 27-year-old has been angling for a move away from the Etihad Stadium for some time, but Leicester wouldn’t let him leave for less than his asking price.

Guardiola has pursued Mahrez for nearly 12 months despite boasting an attack that contains Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva., so where will the Algerian international feature for City?

Silva was in and out of the team last season due to the form of Sterling and Sane, coupled with his own inconsistency. He may find himself fall behind Mahrez in the pecking order, as there’s a reason Guardiola was willing to spend so much on the left-footed right-winger.

Mahrez is tried and tested in the Premier League

There’s no doubting Silva’s quality, but the 23-year-old hasn’t made the most convincing start in the Premier League. At Monaco, Silva would drift past players with ease and would create multiple chances for his teammates per game. His final season in Ligue 1 side saw him contribute 17 goals in 37 appearances, but his numbers are all considerably lower in England.

He’s scored and created 10 goals in 35 Premier League games, making fewer than one successful dribble per game and creating less than one chance per game. Silva has made 20 appearances from the bench, such is the lack of faith from Guardiola, but Mahrez will likely succeed where the Portuguese international has failed.

Mahrez is already a proven talent in the English top flight, winning a league title in 2016 where he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year. He’s scored and created 59 goals in his last 109 games and has all the qualities to shine in a Guardiola side – off-the-ball movement, composure in possession, great range of passing and a good eye for goal.

Silva wasn’t a regular first-team player last season and his hopes of getting more game time in the senior squad will take a big hit thanks to Mahrez. The two players operate in similar roles on the pitch, cutting inside from the right to create a chance or have an effort at goal.

Mahrez has a better goal output than the player four years his junior and has been far more impressive in regard to his overall performances in the Premier League. It doesn’t appear Silva will be sold so soon, but Guardiola signing more competition in his position speaks volumes about his chances of regular playing time.

Gunn and Zinchenko could be moved on permanently by Man City this summer

June 29, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Rumors, Transfer Targets 

Manchester City goalkeeper Angus Gunn and midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko could be sold this summer, with the pair having little chance of getting regular first-team football next season.

The Sky Blues could be selling and loaning out more players than they bring in this summer, but the money generated could help to get some big deals over the line.

Southampton would be good move for Gunn

Gunn spent 2017/18 out on loan with former side Norwich City and is unlikely to dethrone Ederson as first-choice ‘keeper under Pep Guardiola. Claudio Bravo should remain the Brazilian’s back-up next season, meaning Gunn will be forced to move to continue his development and it appears that a permanent deal looks on the cards rather than another loan.

Southampton are reported to be in talks with City over a £15m deal for the 22-year-old who has yet to make a first-team appearances for the Sky Blues. Gunn is highly-rated and kept a respectable 16 clean sheets during his loan spell with Norwich last season. He’s also been called up to the England national team, although he’s yet to make an appearance.

Gunn would be a loss to City given his obvious potential, but if game time is going to allude him in Manchester, he has to seek out assurances elsewhere. Southampton are well known for developing young talents and may well give Gunn a chance from the start next season due to their issues between the sticks.

Mark Hughes’ men conceded 56 goals in the Premier League last season. Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster shared the goalkeeping responsibility. If a No.1 isn’t set in stone ahead of 2018/19, Gunn stands a chance of working his way up the pecking order.

Right move to sell Zinchenko

Further reports have suggested City midfielder Zinchenko is available for sale. The 21-year-old joined from Ufa in 2016, spent his debut season on loan at PSV Eindhoven before returning to his parent club and being used sparingly by Guardiola.

Zinchenko was often utilised as a makeshift left-back and left wing-back, a role that was previously alien to him as a central midfielder and chances were few and far between anyway. The Ukrainian international made just six Premier League starts last season, spending the majority of the campaign as an unused substitute or being left out of the matchday squad entirely.

City are believed to have received offers between £10m-£20m for his signature, but there’s no deal on the horizon with a suitor just yet. Zinchenko might be considering his future at the Etihad, as Benjamin Mendy, Danilo and Fabian Delph stand in his way at left-back, while Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin de Bruyne, Fernandinho and David Silva are ahead of him in the midfield pecking order.

If City can sell Gunn and Zinchenko for a good amount this summer, the money could be reinvested into transfer funds to help Jorginho’s move from Napoli and Riyad Mahrez’s move from Leicester City.

Still no progress being made by Manchester City on the transfer front

June 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Targets 

It’s been more than six weeks since the 2017/18 season came to a close and Manchester City are no closer to making their first signing of the summer.

Manager Pep Guardiola only has two transfer targets in mind – Jorginho from Napoli and Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City –  but he’s struggling to strengthen two areas the Sky Blues are weak in.

Lack of depth in midfield

Yaya Toure left the club at the end of his contract this summer and will be in need of replacing as City aren’t blessed with much depth in midfield. David Silva, Fernandinho and Kevin de Bruyne were regulars in the first-team last season, with Ilkay Gundogan providing adequate cover. Fabian Delph is also a midfield back-up, but he’s played more exclusively in defence under Guardiola.

City appear to have identified the player they want to come in for Toure – Napoli’s Jorginho. The Brazilian-born Italian international has made 160 appearances in all competitions for the Serie A giants and is one of the best central midfielders available in the summer transfer market.

Jorginho is a combative deep-lying player who is also composed in possession and able to create chances all over the pitch, so it’s easy to see why Guardiola is so keen to bring the player to the Etihad Stadium. Unfortunately, City and Napoli can’t agree on a transfer fee, says the Manchester Evening News, which is why there’s been no progress.

Another attacker wanted

And despite having Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva in attack, City are after another forward player who can score and create goals. They’ve been after Riyad Mahrez since January, initially failing with a number of bids before giving up and trying again this summer.

Once again, the two clubs had been unable to agree to an asking price and The Sun say his move from the King Power Stadium to the Etihad was being held up due to his demand for a slice of the £75m deal. Guardiola has narrowed in on two players this summer, but both are being held up at the negotiating stage which won’t please supporters.

Time is running out for the Sky Blues to get the deals over the line too, as the summer transfer window shuts on Thursday, August 9 at 5pm, giving them just over five weeks to strengthen the squad for next season’s title defence – City won the Premier League title with 100 points last season.

 

 

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