The 2020/21 Premier League season is underway, and soon enough the UEFA Champions League will be too. Last season’s quarterfinalists Manchester City are the early favourites to win the tournament – according to the betting exchange – but have they added enough quality to their ranks this summer to be able to compete with Europe’s elite at the highest level of club football?
Pep Guardiola’s side are amongst the market leader’s year-after-year, and, despite the Spaniard winning everything else there is to win during his time in Manchester, he is yet to add the Champions League to the Etihad Stadium’s trophy cabinet.
In his four years in charge, Guardiola is yet to guide Man City any further than the quarterfinals, and, it was at that stage last year that they were knocked out. The Citizens were on the receiving end of a shock exit, losing 3-1 to Ligue 1 side Lyon in the mini-tournament alternative, that was introduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Guardiola’s side has been significantly weakened this summer by the departures of David Silva, who joined Real Sociedad for free upon the end of his contract, and Leroy Sané, who moved to Bayern Munich for £40 million. Silva’s influence in the Man City dressing room will, undoubtedly, be a massive loss. The Spaniard spent 10-years at the Etihad and played a massive part in the side winning five League Cups, four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, and three Community Shields.
Losing Sané will also be a blow for Guardiola’s side. The young German attacker, who joined Man City from Schalke in 2016, missed most of last season after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament, but impressed in the previous two season – contributing towards 45 goals in 63 Premier League appearances.
So far this summer, Guardiola has only brought in attacker Ferran Torres and defenders Nathan Aké and Ruben Dias. Whilst, Torres, who arrived for just £20m from Spanish side Valencia, is far from a direct replacement for Silva and Sané, he is certainly one for the future. At just 20 years old, Torres already has plenty of first team experience in the bag. The young winger broke into the Valencia side in 2017 and went on to make 71 La Liga appearances for Los Murciélagos.
The arrival of Aké, for £40 million, from relegated Bournemouth, was questioned by many Man City fans, but the Dutch defender, who boasts plenty of Premier League experience, impressed on his debut, and received plenty of plaudits for his solid performance against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Moreover, the 25-year-old is extremely versatile, and can be deployed as a centre back, full back, and defensive midfielder.
“Nathan Ake looks to me a sensible signing. He’s a player that can play in many positions,” Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said.
“Obviously Fernandinho isn’t getting any younger and he’s one of the best that’s ever been. He can also play left-back and he can play centre-back.
Dias arrived at the Etihad from Portuguese side Benfica, and whilst the 23-year-old looks like an amazing talent, he isn’t proven at the highest level in Europe, like their other defensive target Kalidou Koulibaly, for example.
Whilst Guardiola’s side is already full of quality, including Kevin De Bruyne – who has been nominated for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award – as well as Ederson, Rodri, and Raheem Sterling – to name just a few, if Man City want to compete for the Champions League, they will still need to add a few more players to their ranks before the window slams shut!