Manchester City’s lack of home-grown talent leaves Pep Guardiola with big decisions to make
Two of Manchester City’s expensive signings face the prospect of being ineligible to play until 2017 because of the number of foreign players in Pep Guardiola’s squad.
Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony and Eliaquim Mangala, who cost a combined £116 million (Dh563m), are probably competing for two spots in the 25-man squad Guardiola will have to submit to the Premier League after the summer transfer window closes.
It means the others could be barred from playing until January, when the transfer window reopens and clubs can amend their squad, and will put pressure on City, who have struggled to offload some of their big earners in recent years, to find alternative employers for players that Guardiola has dropped.
Bony has been linked with West Ham United, Napoli are reportedly keen to borrow Mangala and Besiktas may tempt Nasri with a loan deal but so far, all remain at City.
Premier League clubs are able to name a squad of up to 25 senior players, of whom a maximum of 17 can be classed as non-home-grown, meaning they did not spend three years by the age of 21 in the youth system of an English club.
More from the Premier League:
• Greg Lea on Conte: With a 4-2-4 at Chelsea, Antonio Conte just might be on to something
• The Big Weekend Preview: Aguero, Costa, Zlatan battle for goal supremacy, Bundesliga kicks off
And the imminent signing of Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo from Barcelona has taken City’s contingent of foreign players to 19, meaning Guardiola will have to decide which two will not be registered to play until the New Year
Nasri, Bony and Mangala were omitted from the squad City submitted to Uefa for their two-legged Champions League play-off against Steaua Bucharest, though they can submit a different squad for the group stages.
And while Toure played in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Steaua, the tie was in effect over and he had not even made the matchday 18 for their previous three games.
Three of Guardiola’s major foreign signings – Bravo, when his deal is finalised, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito – seem set to take slots among the 17 non-home-grown players they can register.
Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Fernandinho, who all seem key players for the Spaniard, are also guaranteed spots.
In addition, Aleksandar Kolarov, Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolas Otamendi, Willy Caballero and Jesus Navas have all started league matches in his brief reign, while Fernando has been on the bench for both games.
Injured captain Vincent Kompany also seems highly likely to make the cut.
French left-back Gael Clichy qualifies as home-grown after joining Arsenal as a teenager while 19-year-old Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho and Leroy Sane, 20, can feature as an under-age players.
A shortage of home-grown players, while alleviated by the signings of Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph and John Stones, has become an issue again with Guardiola’s decision to drop goalkeeper Joe Hart and it could have consequences for some of City’s high-profile imports.
Toure, who was sold by Guardiola in 2010 when he was Barcelona manager, faces questions if he possesses the physical power to play the pressing game but it would be a humiliating downgrade if the 33-year-old Ivorian, who has scored 75 goals in 267 games for City and is regarded as one of the greatest players in their history, was deemed surplus to requirements for half the season.
While he has attracted interest from Inter Milan in the past, the midfielder’s £250,000-a-week wages could deter potential buyers.
Guardiola omitted Nasri, 29, from City’s pre-season friendlies in China because he felt the former Arsenal midfielder, who cost £25m in 2011, was overweight.
Centre-back Mangala became the most expensive defender in Premier League history when City paid Porto £42m for him in 2014.
Striker Bony, who cost an initial £25m in January 2015, has only scored six goals in 36 league games for City.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport
Published: August 25, 2016 04:00 AM