How could Manchester City line up in Pep Guardiola's second season at the Etihad?
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 20/06/17 8:17am
With Pep Guardiola preparing for his second season at Manchester City, we look at how the Spaniard's side could line up when the Premier League returns.
And having already spent more than £77m on two players (£34.7m for Ederson and £43m for Silva), Guardiola is not expected to stop the spending there, with City continuing to be linked with a host of players following a trophy-less 2016/17 season.
Man City fixtures 2017/18
City travel to Brighton on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
But how could they line up come August? Read on to see which targets make our potential Manchester City XI…
Guardiola ended the 2016/17 season implementing a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Yaya Toure playing a defensive role behind the midfield four.
The City boss' strength in depth - which is only going to improve before the end of the transfer window - means he will likely flirt with a number of formations early on in the season.
And given their abundance of attacking talent, it seems unlikely that Guardiola would revert back to 4-2-3-1 and play two defensive midfielders.
Having Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus up front also means City could play two up top, though Guardiola's tendency to play one or the other last season shows that a partnership is unlikely - regardless of how terrifying it could be.
Ederson's arrival as the most expensive goalkeeper in history means he is likely to replace Claudio Bravo between the sticks, who struggled at times to fend off competition from Willy Caballero last season. Out-of-favour Joe Hart is expected to find a new club, with West Ham the current favourites.
Guardiola opted to offload Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna this summer - with Pablo Zabaleta also departing - meaning they are in the market for full-backs.
City appear to be covered in central defence, with Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones likely to fight it out for the two starting spots - Aleksandar Kolarov could struggle for game-time next season.
The acquisition of Bernardo Silva throws up a mighty debate regarding who will drop out of Guardiola's starting XI, though the Portugal international is far from guaranteed a starting spot himself.
Can a £43m man really miss out? Well when you have £37m Leroy Sane, £49m Raheem Sterling and £54.5m Kevin De Bruyne for company, as well as David Silva, then it becomes entirely feasible to consider that Bernardo Silva will begin his City career on the bench.
With regards to defensive midfield, Toure would likely struggle to fend off Fernandinho, while Ilkay Gundogan's return from injury means he will also be in contention for a starting berth.
Another dilemma will come should Alexis Sanchez join from Arsenal. The Chilean remains a key City target but the club are yet to make an official approach, Sky sources understand.
City's midfield seamlessly blends into their attack, with Sterling, De Bruyne and Sane all capable of playing a more advanced role off the striker should Guardiola swap to 4-3-3. Sanchez's arrival would provide yet more competition in that position, while he would be just as capable of taking the place of Aguero or Jesus up front.
It could be a case of Aguero or Jesus at the front of the attack for Guardiola, but City are also monitoring Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Aymerick Aubameyang, while Sanchez could provide them with yet another option.
Jesus burst onto the Premier League scene in January, immediately displacing Aguero and impressing fans and pundits alike. The Brazilian scored three goals in four league games before a metatarsal fracture, then returned to score four more in City's final five games of the season.
Aguero found himself playing second fiddle when Jesus was fit, but Guardiola will likely rotate throughout the season as they juggle Champions League football with league and domestic cups.
So, can City win the title?
With that team? Of course they can. City are currently favourites to take home the title next season, and it's understandable to see why given the squad that is currently being assembled.
Full-backs are needed and no expense will be spared for Guardiola, who appears to have been handed a blank cheque book by City's owners.
City scored fewer and conceded more goals than both champions Chelsea and runners-up Tottenham last season. Both areas will need to be addressed, and while they have the players to do so up front, their title prospects could depend on their defensive arrivals, and how quickly said back-four gels in the early stages.