Money goes a long way, but the most elite footballers in the world can hardly be paid enough to miss two seasons of the UEFA Champions League in the prime of their careers.
Manchester City is currently set to miss the next two UEFA Champions League campaigns, and who knows how many players will ask to jump ship this summer.
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But how many will still seize the opportunity to compete for a Premier League title at one of the best-paying clubs in the world? Especially if the lure of playing for Pep Guardiola is gone.
It’s hard to tell, as this isn’t like Nicolas Pepe choosing Arsenal despite the club’s Europa League standing.
This is two seasons without the UCL guaranteed — assuming the ban is not reduced — and there’s no close comparison in UEFA history when it comes to massive sides getting this heavy of a punishment while still staying top flight.
We’re in new territory here, fellow humans.
The closest comparison we have, perhaps, is when Juventus was sent to Serie B as a result of the calciopoli scandal. Juventus lost Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira, Emerson, Gianluca Zambrotta, Adrian Mutu, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
But The Old Lady was able to sign French international Jean-Alain Boumsong as well as Italian national teamers Cristiano Zanetti, and Marco Marchionni.
Good players, but not the cream of the crop.
Man City can kiss the idea of bringing Lionel Messi aboard if the world’s greatest player decides not to exit Barcelona this summer, and neither Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, nor Timo Werner will look its way.
Given the balancing that will need to come via Financial Fair Play and missing out on Champions League revenue, we may see City sell two players for heavy riches (and put a lot of faith in Phil Foden).
You have to think City will retain enough Premier League talent to remain a challenger in both domestic cups and perhaps even the league.
Can City supplement that by using one or two monumental transfer fees (Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne) to do what Real Madrid has done and buy green mega prospects to develop over two seasons? Maybe players a bit more developed, like Boubacar Kamara and Boubakary Soumare, who will take the rich new deals and believe City will get it done by qualifying in year two of the ban?
And could winning the Champions League sate some of the club’s longtime stars, like Sergio Aguero, and convince them to stick around through the “rebuild?”
How many times have we seen players from teams without UCL hope linked with Champions League desire as a reason for wanting out of their current clubs? At Newcastle alone we’ve seen Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko, and Yohan Cabaye use that rationale, while Wilfried Zaha at Palace and Abdoulaye Doucoure at Watford are prime current examples.
Now perhaps those players who want a look at a Premier League title and an upgrade and pay will turn their eyes to City anyway. Perhaps we’ll see a hyped-up old MLS approach, where very young megawatt prospects meet stars on the downside join City.
But it seems likely that City will drift from the top of the table and suffer for at least one season while their top dogs move away to greener pastures.
Either way, next season looks great for Liverpool.Follow @NicholasMendola