How different will Manchester City look at the end of this month than it does right now?
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That’s the multi-million dollar question when it comes to the UEFA Champions League side, who brought in English stars Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph this summer and are heavily-linked with Wolfsburg’s Kevin De Bruyne and even Juventus’ Paul Pogba.
Regardless, Manuel Pellegrini has held onto his job and will lead the pursuit of City’s third title in five years. City boasted the Premier League’s best goal differential last season, but finished second to Chelsea by eight points.
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Best possible XI:
—– Zabaleta —– Kompany —– Mangala —– Clichy
—– Delph —–
—– Sterling — Toure — Silva —–
—– Aguero —– Bony —–
Transfers In: Raheem Sterling ($75 million, Liverpool), Fabian Delph ($12 million, Aston Villa), Enes Unal (undisclosed, Bursaspor), Patrick Roberts (undisclosed, Fulham), David Faupala (Free, Lens)
Transfers Out: James Milner (Free, Liverpool ), Dedryck Boyata ($2.3 million, Celtic), Scott Sinclair (undisclosed, Aston Villa), Karim Rekik ($5.9 million, Marseille),
Star player: Sergio Aguero – With respect to David Silva, Aguero is deadly when healthy. His 32 goals in 40 matches last season include six in 7 UEFA Champions League matches, and the 27-year-old has backed up his club work with 7 goals in 7 appearances for Argentina so far in 2015. He’s the reigning Golden Boot winner in the Premier League, and likely the favorite to do it again in 2015-16.
Last season: 2nd, Champions League Round of 16, FA Cup fourth round, League Cup fourth round — A Spring swoon cost City its hopes at a title, as the Manchester club went through a 2-4 stretch. The losses at Liverpool and Manchester United may be forgiven by some, but losses at Burnley and Crystal Palace are another story. City lost 12 points at home last season, and will hope to make the Etihad Stadium back into a fortress.
Coaches’ Corner: Pellegrini’s status as City boss was a hot topic in the Spring, but he held onto his job, perhaps for good reason. Can he coax a better season out of Yaya Toure, and find the goods to boost Sterling from a promising player to a surefire star? Will he last into the start of the UEFA Champions League, where City put themselves in a notorious position during last year’s group stage before climbing out? Can he spearhead Cup runs that last longer than two rounds? Pellegrini went from a Double in 2013-14 to nothing last year. That won’t do this time around.
PST predicts: City is getting older, and needs a Yaya renaissance to contend for a title. Adding De Bruyne would give them the depth to compete in Europe, but adding Pogba would launch them into the stratosphere of UCL favorites (despite their lack of resume). As is, City is a contender for the Top Four that could finish as low as fifth behind Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.