As of this very moment, Man City have been hit with a ban from European competition for two seasons, in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
[ MORE: Man City banned from European action ]
Even if their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is successful and lets say they have their ban reduced to one season, that would still cause huge problems for everyone connected with the reigning Premier League champions.
As Andy Edwards discussed on Friday, Pep Guardiola‘s future at Man City could be perilous as the Spanish coach seems to already be putting together his exit strategy as he mentioned he could be fired if they fail to win a Champions League.
Can’t not win it if you aren’t in it. Clever boy, Pep…
[ MORE: Key questions on ban answered ]
But what about superstar City players, will they also walk if Guardiola leaves and City are indeed banned from the Champions League for a minimum of one season?
Most of this current group of City stars are under contract until 2023 and it will be very unlikely that the club will want to lose them in their time of need, even if Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules force them to cut some costs somewhere as they will lose plenty of revenue (upwards of $190 million over two seasons) from not being in the Champions League.
Yet, if the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte want to leave to try and win the Champions League and join a club which can offer them a chance to dine at Europe’s top table, is it worth City keeping wantaway players at the Etihad Stadium?
That is the dilemma which now faces them.
In each case it is different and some players will feel a greater sense of responsibility to stick with City in tough times. Others will not.
If City’s ban is upheld then we will see the true character of some of their stars. Many will probably be on the phone to their agents right away to figure out how they can leave and play in the Champions League.
Is playing in Europe’s top club competition so important? Yes.
When you are playing at the level Man City’s players are at, money doesn’t really come into things. As wild as that seems players are players and that want to win things. We are talking about ultra-competitive, super-successful international stars. Playing careers are relatively short and these elite athletes want to play at the top of the game for the longest time possible.
Not playing in the Champions League will dent their pride and in the likes of KDB, Bernardo Silva and Laporte, they may not look too fondly at UCL action being taken away from them for the prime years of their careers.
In the case of Pep and his players, do they have a leg to stand on contractually if they just want to leave Man City? Some would argue that the hierarchy at City have deprived their players of playing in the Champions League due to their own negligence and wrongdoing (if found guilty) and therefore the players may believe they could force an exit due to breach of contract on the part of their employers.
With a possible Premier League points deduction also worth considering, City’s players will have to be all-in if they’re going to stick around and weather this almighty storm. City’s future recruitment will likely be more frugal as they deal with FFP and a huge loss of revenue due to a Champions League ban, so that means extra reliance on their current squad of stars and trying to keep the likes of Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane around as their contracts are running out in 2021.
Whether or not those stars want in, especially if Guardiola leaves, is a huge question amid several massive ones hanging over City after UEFA chucked the book at them.
If this ban is upheld, expect plenty of star players to leave and push hard to move to other European giants this summer. That is the harsh reality which is facing Man City after the historic ban handed to them by European soccer’s governing body.