They may have a squad with more than £250million of talent but Manchester City need a summer overhaul to ensure they start moving in the right direction.
The FA Cup represents the only realistic chance of silverware this season, begging the question – how did the Premier League champions decline so much within 12 months?
The Blues were linked with a host of players last summer – Robin van Persie, Eden Hazard and Javi Martinez among others.
But instead of getting a Daniele De Rossi, boss Roberto Mancini went out and bought the ‘budget’ versions in Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair.
And the players have not performed, with young defender Matija Nastasic the only signing to gain any plaudits from this season.
The likes of Maicon could risk being another name in the long list of City’s expensive failures and, while they will be given more time to prove themselves, the growing number of players who do not justify their wages at the club are worrying.
City are paying the price for the bizarre decision of previous manager Mark Hughes to hand mediocre players extortionate, long-term contracts, consequently leading to the new regime failing to shift the misfits.
Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz – still on the books at the Etihad – will finally leave the club this summer, having cost more than £25million in transfer fees and almost £150,000 a week in wages for the last four years.
Joining them out the door could be Kolo Toure, whose contract expires in the summer. While the Ivorian has enjoyed a decent spell in the first team in recent weeks, his time at the club since signing from Arsenal in 2009 for £16million has been underwhelming at best.
The futures of players like Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott also remain in doubt, with some seeking first team football and others simply not performing well enough.
However, the stark realisation for City is that no-one can afford to take the costly contingent off their hands.
Nasri is on around £175,000 a week and the £25million signing from Arsenal in 2011 has seen his starting spot usurped by James Milner, someone on a fraction of the Frenchman’s wages.
Lescott was a key figure in City’s title-winning campaign but he has found himself frozen out of the first team this season and was linked with a return to Everton but the 30-year-old’s £80,000 wages proved a stumbling block.
With one eye on financial fair play rules and players like Lescott and Nasri at the club, City may face another situation like those of Bridge and Santa Cruz.
Nasri and Lescott certainly have roles at the club but do their roles justify their wages? Definitely not.
And City now have to deal with the expensive backups on their roster while needing to improve on their first-choice players and replacing any that may leave.
Carlos Tevez’s future is up for debate – the 29-year-old’s contract expires in 2014 and the striker has stated his desire to return to his native Argentina instead of extending his deal, meaning the club could choose to cash in on the £25million man.
Meanwhile, Edin Dzeko has arguably been the club’s best player this season but the Bosnian has grown tired of a super-sub role, leaving Mancini potentially needing a revamp of his side’s frontline.
Any player who the Italian does bring in – assuming he’s still actually in charge in the summer – will have to be the result of intense scouting and be seen as a long-term success at the club.
The summer represents an opportunity for a much-needed revamp at Manchester City and Mancini needs to ensure the overhaul is successful – or risk being part of it.
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