Here’s Marc with his article on 5 Manchester City stars that could improve further in 2019/20
5 Manchester City stars that could improve further in 2019/20
Back-to-back English Premier League titles are more than cause for celebration for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, but the Spaniard is still hungry for more trophies. After staving off the valiant title challenge of Liverpool throughout the 2018/19 EPL campaign, Guardiola would be forgiven for putting his feet up and enjoying the moment; but that’s not the case. The former Barcelona legend already has his eyes firmly set on making it a hat-trick of Premier League titles, along with a serious tilt at the one major trophy that has so far alluded City – the UEFA Champions League. While Liverpool and Tottenham do battle in the upcoming Champions League final, City boss Guardiola will be quietly plotting his side’s assault on Europe’s biggest prize in 2019/20.
With very few changes expected at the Etihad Stadium over the summer – how do you improve upon perfection? – it begs the question as to which players within the existing City squad are going to step up their game and become key men in 2019/20. Let’s consider five City superstars that have plenty of development left in them yet for the fantasy team.
A player that’s just warming up With Vincent Kompany finally calling time on his City career, the race is on for Pep Guardiola to find the Belgian’s long-term replacement. Most leading sports betting tipsters believe that Leicester City’s Harry Maguire is the prime candidate to compete with messrs Laporte and Stones for a place in the heart of the City backline. There was once talk of Spanish defender Gerard Pique teaming up with Guardiola at City once again. However, Pique was quick to quash those reports, insisting that his “love” for Manchester United and his desire to see happiness return to Barcelona was his motivating force.
It took Frenchman Laporte a little time to adjust to life in the Premier League, but by the end of City’s title-winning campaign he had become a stalwart alongside Kompany; even contributing three assists and three vital goals at the right end of the pitch. At the age of just 24, Laporte is the perfect age for Guardiola to continue to mould him and potentially become Kompany’s ready-made replacement without the need to invest further.
From ball boy to Academy graduate – Foden is City through and through
The latest starlet to come off the Manchester City conveyor belt of talent, local lad Phil Foden has the potential to become the next golden boy for Pep’s men. He used to be a ball boy whilst a member of the City academy, but he has since graduated through the system to become an exciting playmaker on the cusp of the first team. Towards the back end of this season, Foden bagged his first Premier League goal in a narrow home win over Tottenham, becoming the third youngest player to score for City in the top-flight after Daniel Sturridge and Micah Richards. With such good close control and a knack of drifting past opponents with ease, comparisons with Lionel Messi aren’t that wide of the mark. He’ll surely get more game time under Guardiola in 2019/20.
Ukrainian left back Oleksandr Zinchenko made a surprise move to Manchester City in the summer of 2016, signing from Russian side Ufa for a fee believed to be around £1.7m. After successful loan spells with PSV, Zinchenk got his chance to impress in the 2017/18 campaign, deputising for the injured Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph. More injuries to Mendy and Delph have meant that Zinchenko has played an even bigger role in 2019/20. In fact, the Ukrainian was never on the losing side this season in his 12 league appearances – a lucky omen for 2019/20 perhaps? If Benjamin Mendy cannot get fully fit, Guardiola could look to Zinchenko as his number-one left back.
Brazilian front man, Gabriel Jesus has continued to play second fiddle to City’s Argentine legend, Sergio Aguero. It’s hard to believe that Jesus is still just 22 years of age. However, 2018/19 was something of a barren period for him. Just seven league goals in 29 Premier League appearances will hardly set the world alight among fantasy football fanatics. However, Aguero isn’t getting any younger and Jesus will know deep down that he needs to improve in 2019/20 to try and force his way into the starting XI reckoning. Reports of City looking to ditch Jesus and bring in a replacement seem unfounded as yet.
Kevin De Bruyne
It seems silly to include arguably City’s best player in a list of players that could do better in 2019/20, but it has been a difficult season for Belgian playmaker, Kevin De Bruyne. In a year blighted by knee injury, he has still played a key role in the latter stages of the season. He scored one and set up two in City’s emphatic FA Cup final win over Watford. De Bruyne himself admits that he’s been playing catch-up with fitness in the second half of the season and is looking to be back at peak fitness in time for the start of 2019/20 – watch out Premier League!
It almost feels like we’re picking holes in the City team where there aren’t any. However, these five players still have plenty to prove to Pep Guardiola and the rest of the Premier League. De Bruyne aside, the other four will probably offer good value to any fantasy football squad next season.