With three weeks remaining until the summer transfer window slams shut and 25-man squad lists are required to be submitted to the Premier League, Manchester City currently have 35 senior squad members listed under the ‘Players’ section of the MCFC OS (for the sake of argument, this is the list I will be using to account for senior players). Players born on or after the 1st January 1990 do not need to be registered. The following is a run down through the squad, and the possible changes to be made before the 1st September deadline. The names in italics are ‘home grown’ players, of which 8 minimum are required in each club’s 25 man squad.
Keepers: Joe Hart, Stuart Taylor, David Gonzalez, Gunnar Nielson, Costel Pantilimon
Shay Given has departed for Aston Villa, leaving the number 2 position up for grabs. In pre-season, goalkeeping duties were split, with 18 year old German Lorius Karius making a brief cameo appearance. David Gonzalez has joined Aberdeen on a season long loan, and Gunnar Nielson is yet to recover from his broken leg suffered early in the year, meaning he is unlikely to be selected in the 25. German veteran Timo Hildebrand, best known for his time at Stuttgart, had been training with the squad on the American pre-season tour, although it now appears he has left the club without earning a contract.
Romanian stopper, Costel Pantilimon has joined the club on an initial year long loan. Pantilimon being best known to City fans as the goalkeeper for FC Timisoara whom the blues played in last year’s Europa League. More a more in depth look at Pantilimon, the excellent Radu Baicu has since written this piece on his Manchester move: http://bit.ly/nwP7sh
Prospective keepers: Joe Hart, Stuart Taylor, Costel Pantilimon
Total squad number: 3
Defenders: Wayne Bridge, Aleksander Kolarov, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards, Kolo Toure, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Stefan Savic, Dedryk Boyata, Greg Cunningham, Nedum Onuoha.
Jerome Boateng has left for Bayern Munich and Shaleum Logan was released before joining Brentford, in the only two departures from last season’s squad list.
Wayne Bridge and Nedum Onuoha have returned from their loans spells at West Ham and Sunderland respectively, whilst Greg Cunningham is still recovering from a fractured tibia whilst on loan at Leicester City. Cunningham’s age means he would not need to be registered, alongside Dedryk Boyata and new signing Stefan Savic.
The signing of Gael Clichy to compete for the left back slot means Wayne Bridge will likely see the door, although his high wages are proving to be a stumbling block for prospective employers so far.
Recent news reports that Nedum Onuoha has turned down a move to Queens Park Rangers in a bid to fight his future at the Etihad Stadium; whether he will be allowed to after criticising the management in a Soccer AM interview last summer remains to be seen.
Prospective defenders: Aleksander Kolarov, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards, Kolo Toure, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy
U21: Stefan Savic, Dedryk Boyata, Greg Cunningham
Total squad number: 10
Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong, Adam Johnson, James Milner, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Michael Johnson, Abdisalam Ibrahim, Abdul Razak, Vladimir Weiss.
The highest profile exit from last year’s squad has seen 5 time FA Cup, 3 time Premier League, 4 time Community Shield, 4 time Serie A, 2 time Supercoppa Italiana, Coppa Italia, Champions League, World Cup, European Championship and Confederations Cup winner, Patrick Vieira, hang up his boots to oversee football development in a back-stage role.
Other departures include – 2 appearances in 2 years – Michael Johnson to Leicester on a season long loan, where he will hopefully regain his fitness. Abdisalam Ibrahim has also gone out on loan for the season, to Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie, better known as NEC in the Eredivise.
The only uncertainty on the rest of the midfielders is over the futures of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Vladimir Weiss, with the former having a particularly impressive pre season in the hopes of remaining at the club. Bolton Wanderers boss Owen Coyle yesterday confirmed the club were in talks with Wright-Phillips and it seems likely that if a deal can be reached regarding his wages, he will be plying his trade down the right wing of the Reebok Stadium this season. It seems likely that Weiss will be sent out on loan to England, Italy or Spain following his spell at Glasgow Rangers last season, having admitted to Mancini’s desire for him to gain more experience playing week-in week-out.
Prospective Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong, Adam Johnson, James Milner, David Silva, Yaya Toure
U21: Abdul Razak
Total squad number: 16
Forwards: Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy, Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero, Alex Tchuimeni-Nimely.
The area of biggest contention and highest speculation. João Alves de Assis Silva has returned to Brazil with Internacional whilst Emmaunel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Craig Bellamy have all returned from loan spells. They were left out of pre season plans, with Adebayor publicly seeking a return to Real Madrid and Santa Cruz recuperating after an injury-filled Copa America. Bellamy however, has featured for the MCFC EDS in games against Altrincham and Staylybridge Celtic, impressing the training staff with his professional approach to training following his year away at Cardiff City. Mancini, however, has stated that Bellamy is free to leave; with seemingly the only problem being Bellamy’s refusal to accept a lower wage elsewhere as a large portion goes towards supporting the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone. The boss in the past week has gone on record confirming Adebayor and Belllamy do not feature in his plans and as such are not training with the first team squad.
Alex Nimely’s fledgling career has been plagued by niggling injuries and Swedish 19 year old EDS striker John Guidetti took the role of main youth striker in pre-season.
Whether Carlos Tevez remains at the club is seemingly dependant on Internazionale’s willingness to meet a £50million price tag set by MCFC. Samuel Eto’o’s €40million move from Inter to Anzhi Makhachkala will generate a lot of funds for the Italian side, but an outlay on Tevez would still be extortionate, and at odds with owner Massimo Moratti’s recent cost cutting exercise.
Prospective Forwards: Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez
U21 Forwards: Mario Balotelli, Alex Tchuimeni-Nimely
Total squad number: 19
So that leaves us with 19 senior squad members who require registration. Whilst it drew scorn from some sectors, Mancini’s recent comments that he had a squad of 20 players was clearly referring to this, with the fringe outcasts no longer perceived as part of the squad.
A huge 6 players are able to be added, should there be any of these unwanted players left over after the window shuts it is conceivable that they would be added to make up numbers, although in most cases moves away are more likely. One player who should round the number up to 20 is Samir Nasri who is seemingly days away from completing his move from Arsenal.
Of course, the squad can be supplemented with unlimited U21 players with the likes of John Guidetti not making the Players section of the OS, despite clearly being in Mancini’s thinking. Mancini’s belief in youth, demonstrated prominantly by Boyata’s break into the first team, including the Carling Cup semi final games against United and last season ahead of Lescott against Arsenal, will most likely see a few more EDS players making their senior debuts in what will be a draining season for all involved.