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What do Manchester City Need to Win the Title Next Season?

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City must bulk up for 2020/21

For Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, the 2019-20 league season must be considered a failure. The favourites along with Liverpool for the title, City became mere onlookers as the Reds romped to their first championship win in 30 years, beating their rivals by 18 points. Whilst success may still be found in the UEFA Champions League, Manchester City’s Premier League campaign was hit and miss – they have the division’s best player in Kevin De Bruyne, but lost more games than fierce city rivals Manchester United.

Where did it all go wrong for City in 2019-20? Was it the loss of Mikel Arteta, Pep Guardiola’s trusted and respected right-hand man, who took the Arsenal job? Pep has certainly made his feelings towards the Gunners known in the aftermath of such a move. With long-time servant and club legend David Silva heading out the door, City must be looking to replace the 34-year-old’s production whilst also adding more firepower to reign in Liverpool.

Low numbers in the Attacking talent

Raheem Sterling has had another fabulous campaign, finishing the year with 20 league goals, whilst Aguero struck 16. In De Bruyne and Mahrez, the club possesses four of the top 18 goal-scorers in the league from this recently concluded season – 22%. David Silva may be at the end of his career, but the diminutive midfielder was still productive during his final season, as the Spaniard scored six goals and registered 10 assists for City this season. Such creativity will be difficult to replace, and perhaps even greater output is needed if City are to challenge Liverpool in the upcoming campaign – especially after the additional sale of Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich.

They already have a ready-made Silva replacement in Phil Foden, but City will be keen to sign a replacement for Sane. It appears that Guardiola is turning to David Silva’s old club to find a new attacking option, with news coming out that City have reportedly reached a deal with Valencia to sign Ferran Torres for around £24.5m. This would be a fantastic move for such a price – at 20 years of age, Torres is considered one of the top talents in European football.

The Spaniard scored four times and assisted five goals for Valencia this season, but it is his tricky dribbling and high footballing IQ that make him such a sought-after prospect. At the reported price tag, it would be a steal for City.

They still need defensive cover

For all the criticism Guardiola gets for spending big on defenders, it is remarkable how few of them turn out to be solid options. Perhaps due to Guardiola’s style, it is because he cannot scout or value them as accurately as he can players further downfield. Anyhow, City are at a defensive crossroads this summer once more.

In Aymeric Laporte, they have found a solid, dependable starter in their backline, but their squad is littered with deadwood. Nicolas Otamendi is 32 years old and could well leave the club unless he accepts his role as a squad player. England international John Stones is also out of favour, and will surely leave City this summer.

Stones played in just 16 Premier League games this season, with Otamendi and even Eric Garcia preferred to the former Everton man in the final few matches of the league season. The centre-back could be sold to raise significant funds, with Arsenal and Chelsea rumoured to be interested in snatching the Englishman from the Etihad.

It appears as if Guardiola has got the man to slot in alongside Laporte for the time being with Nathan Ake reportedly set to join the club on a £41m deal. The Cherries man is still just 25 and he will no doubt be a positive addition to the squad. However, there is still the Vincent Kompany-esque hole gaping in City's defence.

Mikel Arteta has clearly left a big hole

It appears as though the absence of Mikel Arteta did indeed sting Guardiola and his side. Looking for an adequate replacement must have been a priority high on the list for Manchester City in this brief summer before football returned. After months of searching, the club announced the appointment of Juanme Lillo, a man described as one of Guardiola’s greatest influences.

The Spaniard is similar to Pep in that he is an admirer of the football encouraged and employed by Johan Cruyff, and Lillo certainly has the pedigree. He guided Salamanca into La Liga in 1995, and earned promotion to the Chinese Super League last season. Lillo has also managed some of the world’s best players, coaching Andres Iniesta at Japanese side Vissel Kobe and alongside the former Barcelona man, the two may strike up quite the partnership.

By Andrew Gamble