One can probably imagine the huge sigh of relief that the blue half of Manchester released when Manchester City’s two-year ban from the Champions League was overturned by the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) on Monday. It was probably mirrored in Abu Dhabi, and even though City had been increasingly confident of being exonerated, it was still not a foregone conclusion, and indeed came as a bit of a shock to the wider football community, as this verdict has weakened UEFA’s Financial Fair Play mechanism a fair bit. However, the wider ramifications of this judgement are for another discussion, since City will need to move quickly in terms of their plans for next season and beyond, now that their participation in the Champions League has been recovered.
One of the biggest looming issues is Pep Guardiola’s contract. The Spaniard’s current deal expires at the end of next season, and while he had reaffirmed his commitment to that deal regardless of the CAS verdict, he has not said anything about extending his time in Manchester. He will have spent five years at the Etihad upon the conclusion of this contract, marking his longest tenure at a club. He was at Barcelona for four seasons and at Bayern Munich for three seasons, and so it is unlikely that he will want to stick around at City for a long period of time. It will be up to the City hierarchy to convince him otherwise, and while he has made encouraging noises about this, saying that he only left his previous clubs because he felt he would be happier in a new role, it is also obvious that Pep will want a new challenge soon. If you are a betting man, we suggest you hold off on backing any odds for this particular saga, even at the best online casinos, as this is one story that has the potential to run for quite some time yet.
It is a similar story with regard to one of the icons of City’s resurgence in the Sheikh Mansour era, Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian’s contract also expires at the end of next season, and he has stated a desire to finish his career back in Argentina. However, he has also said that he will stay at City till they win the Champions League, with that dream being closer to reality this season, as the Citizens hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid before the second leg of their round-of-16 tie. The rest of the tournament has been condensed into one-off knockout matches, which means that this could be the season when City finally scratch their European itch. This, combined with the fact that Aguero is 32 years old, may prompt Manchester City to finally begin looking for his successor and grant him a farewell he completely deserves.
One player who will definitely be leaving this summer is David Silva. The Spanish magician is set to leave English shores after 10 dazzling years at the Etihad, and he has undoubtedly been one of the best players to have ever played in the league, with his performances and quiet leadership driving City to all their modern success. Pep and the City hierarchy also need to decide on whether to replace him with a big-money signing or to put their trust in local lad Phil Foden, who definitely has the potential to emulate the Spaniard.