Replace Sergio Aguero, then target Jack Grealish

They have been looking for defensive midfielders for the future as Fernandinho is now 36 years old. Manuel Locatelli at Sassuolo in Italy is the one they admire, although the club captain, who looks likely to stay another year, has eased the pressure to find an immediate replacement.

City also have players who have been on loan this season in Belgium who could come back and add numbers to the first team and add defensive coverage in the midfield. 18-year-old Brazilian midfielder Diego Rosa is highly regarded, while Ante Palaversa has had a good second half of the season.

Guardiola is well stocked in wide front positions, but has clearly expressed his admiration for Grealish when he has faced him before. “They (Villa) have one of the best players in the league at Jack Grealish,” said Guardiola, when he faced him in the Carabao Cup final last season. “I’m a huge fan of him.”

City would benefit from their rivals Manchester United chasing Jadon Sancho as they would receive a sales fee for the England striker and also have a clearer run at Grealish.

Guardiola is unlikely to stand still with his team after winning the title, hailing the triumph as the most difficult to date given the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also went without a No9 with Aguero on the sidelines for most of the campaign.

“Winning another Premier League – we know it’s the best league in the world, the toughest, it’s amazing,” Begiristain said. “Winning it again and like we did is an incredible achievement.

“It’s the consistency, the style, the way we’re structured, everyone knows what we need to do. We have an amazing leader in the dressing room who is Pep and we have amazing players who want to come to us.

Analysis: Man City ready to spend again – Guardiola wary of rivals’ progress

By Jason Burt

Pep Guardiola does not want to repeat the mistake he says was made when Manchester City last won the Premier League title two years ago.

Next, the Champions recruited from the transfer market, with a net spend of £ 80million, but they compromised on one key area – replacing Vincent Kompany.

For the central half can now be read the center forward. Sergio Aguero is leaving this summer when his contract expires, a decision made by Guardiola, and although the manager has successfully experimented with a ‘midfield team’ and played without a central striker this season, he does not plan to continue.

Since the Aguero decision was taken early, the club have had a lot of time to find their replacement. “They want to do things this summer,” a source confirmed.

In his conversations with City director of football Txiki Begiristain, his closest ally at the club, Guardiola will talk about Chelsea’s growing strength. Roman Abramovich spent £ 220million last summer, hired Thomas Tuchel in January and will recruit again in the next transfer window. It helps Guardiola ensure that Chelsea are City opponents in the Champions League final. He sees them as City’s biggest potential threat next season.

Guardiola will also convey his hope that Liverpool will surely recover and that Manchester United will also enter the market and build on what is expected to be a second place behind City.

City’s problem two years ago wasn’t that they weren’t investing – they triggered a release clause by spending a record £ 62.8million on Rodri as the long-term successor to Fernandinho and they brought in Joao Cancelo for £ 60million from Juventus – but they were taken aback by Kompany’s decision to leave.


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Lillie Berry

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