Manchester City are the team to beat in the 2021/22 Premier League campaign. Pep Guardiola’s side comfortably strolled to the league title last season – finishing 12 points clear of Manchester United in 2nd place – and have got even better over the summer with the addition of Jack Grealish and (potentially) Harry Kane.
All the signs point towards another City victory, however a 4th league title for Guardiola may be his hardest one yet, with the chasing pack strengthening over the break with the additions of Sancho, Varane and Lukaku and the return of Virgil van Dijk.
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Rather than spread their budget thinly over the squad and buy 3-4 players, Manchester City have gone all-in on one player in the 2021 transfer window and smashed the Premier League transfer record to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for £100 million. Grealish was one of the standout players in the Premier League last season – with 6 goals and 10 assists – and adds another layer of dynamism to Pep Guardiola’s squad.
While Grealish is an incredible addition, the real difference maker that Manchester City need this summer is a genuine centre-forward, and it is an open secret that the player they are after is England captain Harry Kane. Kane would be the ideal replacement for Sergio Aguero as the focal point of City’s attack, however, it would take a monster bid in the region of £150 million to pry him away from Tottenham, and this transfer saga could go down to the wire on deadline day.
BEST STARTING XI
With Manchester City assembling the most expensive squad in Premier League history, picking the strongest XI is almost an impossible task, considering the quality and depth they possess in every position.
Most of the defence picks itself, with Ederson continuing in goal after signing a new seven-year contract over the summer.
At centre-back, John Stones is another player who recently signed a new deal with the club, and his partnership with Ruben Dias was the foundation for Manchester City’s success last season. Following an excellent summer with England at the Euros, Kyle Walker returns at right-back, with Manchester City’s second most creative player from the last campaign – Joao Cancelo – playing at left-back.
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Holding it all together in the heart of midfield is Rodri, with Kevin de Bruyne and Jack Grealish playing alongside him as the two free number 8s in this team. While Grealish predominantly played as a left-winger or as a number 10 for Aston Villa, the Englishman’s long-term future at City is in the role played by Ilkay Gundogan in the latter half of last season.
Guardiola has plenty of options to choose from on the wings, but the two standout options in this 4-3-3 system are Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez, two players who played an integral part in City’s run to the Champions League final last season.
At centre forward, Harry Kane would be the default option if he were to join the club. However, if that move fails to materialize, Ferran Torres could be the man to lead the line for Guardiola. Torres has played in that position for his national team and is one of the few players in the squad who can run in behind the defence and stretch the play.
Considering the manager, squad depth and investment, anything other than a 4th Premier League title in five years would be considered a failure for Manchester City this season. Pep Guardiola’s side were the best team in Europe last season, and the addition of Jack Grealish has added another ace to their already stacked deck.
However, despite their recent dominance and investment, Manchester City did suffer from some goal-scoring woes last season, and if they fail to sign Harry Kane, teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and even Manchester United could give them a run for their money.
Premier League Prediction: 1st
[Image Credit: Manchester City]