Manchester City are undoubtedly in a great place on the pitch and manager Pep Guardiola’s contract extension gives us a clearer view of the project in the medium term. We don’t expect a big summer, but they’ll need to make some moves at the back, especially in light of the way he has reshuffled the formation this year as well as certain players getting older and perhaps not fitting Pep’s plans the way they used to. Ilkay Gundogan will need to be replaced, and they need to continue their succession planning in attacking midfield, as Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva aren’t getting younger.
Their academy keeps churning out youngsters who may not have a future at City but can fetch considerable transfer fees. Last season, they transferred four players — goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, midfielder Romeo Lavia, winger Samuel Edozie and defender Juan Larios — to Southampton for a combined total of nearly £40m. That’s important in balancing the books.
The main uncertainty going forward, now that Guardiola has committed to the club, is the Premier League charge for violations of financial sustainability regulations. It could result in a massive fine or even relegation; it could lead to a slap on the wrist or a full exoneration. We simply don’t know and we don’t know the timeline either. So while it remains bubbling in the background, it’s not something you can consider when asking who to keep, who to extend and who to move on.
Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of stories over the coming weeks applying the same “who to keep, who to extend and who to move on” approach to all the top clubs in the Premier League and Europe.
MARCOTTI: No reason to think of a new contract now; he’s locked up and they’re in a good place.
OGDEN: I agree, though the only thing I’d say is he has had his erratic moments this season.
MARCOTTI: He has started most of the cup ties and a couple of Champions League group-stage games and hasn’t done much wrong. Presumably he’s OK being a backup after many years as a starter. There’s no need to extend his contract, for now at least, since he’s obviously not going to be Ederson’s long-term replacement.
Verdict: Keep, but do not extend his deal
OGDEN: He has been at Middlesbrough on loan and has had a good season in the Championship. Clearly, he wants to be a No. 1 with a view towards the 2026 World Cup, so the best thing for City to do is cash in. And Middlesbrough, especially if they get promoted, are likely to spend over market value in order to acquire him.
Verdict: Find him a new club
MARCOTTI: Pep obviously likes having him already and if he’s happy to continue as the No. 3 at this stage of his career, there’s no reason you wouldn’t keep him since he doesn’t cost very much.
OGDEN: He’s sort of like the lucky cat in the dressing room.
Verdict: Keep and extend his deal
OGDEN: He’s the right age and despite being injured, I think he’s still their best defender.
OGDEN: He’s versatile and has been good this season, but he did struggle last season. I’d wait before thinking about extending his time at City, especially since he’ll be 30 when his contract is up.
MARCOTTI: He’s been very good this season and fits this style of play well. I wouldn’t rush into negotiations just yet, but I’m fine with giving him a one-year extension with a nice salary bump. Especially since you might be losing a few guys at the back.
Verdict: Keep, but wait to extend his deal
MARCOTTI: It’s kind of shocking to think that he has been at the club seven years and only started less than half (47.2%) of City’s league games. He has had injuries and various ups and downs. When he’s good, he’s very good, but with the three years left on his deal, there’s no real need to do anything.
OGDEN: He was a regular last year and this season has hardly played. I’m not sure how well he gets on with Pep. This is the time to replace him with a younger version.
Verdict: Let him find a new club
MARCOTTI: He’s locked into a long-term deal and has been one of the successes of the season for me, especially considering his transfer fee. It’s interesting because he was a highly touted youngster who turned into an inconsistent pro at Dortmund. But in this environment, he has been very solid.
OGDEN: He hasn’t played much, but there aren’t that many good left-backs out there. Keep him as a squad player.
MARCOTTI: Even with Oleksandr Zinchenko gone and then Joao Cancelo likely moving on, he has had very little playing time. At his age, if you rate him, he needs to play and, especially with the set-up this season, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I’d look to loan him.
Verdict: Keep, but send on loan for some experience
OGDEN: His contract is up, and his retrial is in the summer. This one is obvious.
Verdict: Release him
OGDEN: He’s 33 in the summer. I don’t see any reason to keep him, so you might as well try to move him on. Someone will spend handsomely in order to acquire him.
MARCOTTI: You’re not going to extend his contract at his age, so City might as well cash in. Especially since the current formation they’re using works fine without him.
Verdict: Let him find a new club
MARCOTTI: He has had his moments since breaking into the City first-team, and he’s young enough that you want to extend him. Maybe he’ll be a squad player next season, maybe you loan him. Either way, he’s an asset.
Verdict: Keep and extend his contact
OGDEN: You need to move him on. I can’t think of any examples of the past where Guardiola has fallen out with someone and taken him back.
MARCOTTI: I’d try to repair the relationship. He has not had a great time at Bayern and he has a big contract so he’ll hard to shift on a permanent transfer unless you loan him again. I just think he’s so gifted, you have to give it a shot. And if it doesn’t work, loan him again in January.”
Verdict: Split (let him go/keep)
MARCOTTI: He’s still young and has backed up Jonathan Clauss most of the season at Marseille, but unless you get an offer for him, I’d keep him and evaluate him in the summer, especially if Walker and/or Joao Cancelo go. You can then decide what to do.
Verdict: Keep and reevaluate over the summer
MARCOTTI: He was considered a very promising prospect, but he’s struggled this season at Girona. If you’re going to bring back one of your on-loan right-backs, I think you go with Kabore.
Verdict: Loan out
OGDEN: He’s the best holding midfielder in the Premier League. It’s a no-brainer.
MARCOTTI: I think he has contributed very little this year, but with that sort of contract (reportedly over $7m per year), you’re going to struggle to find a new club. It’s one of those where you put your faith in Guardiola’s ability to help him settle and provide cover for Rodri.
OGDEN: If they sign Jude Bellingham or someone of that caliber, then you let Phillips go even at a loss, because he’s never going to play. You’ll find someone who would take him and pay a big fee for him. The Premier League is awash with clubs that have more money than sense. For example, I think City could get their money back by offering him to, say, West Ham if they shift Declan Rice this summer.
Verdict: Split (let him go/keep)
MARCOTTI: He has played 22 minutes of senior football this season and he has a long-term deal, so loan him out and get him playing time.
Verdict: Loan him out
OGDEN: They tried to offer him a new deal, but he wants to move on after seven years at the club, which is understandable.
Verdict: Release this summer
OGDEN: I think he looks a little worn down after so many games over the years, and he is getting older. See how things go and maybe move him on next summer if he wants to go.
MARCOTTI: I think given what he has done for the club, you give him a bit of leeway. He has a slightly lesser role this season, but that’s fine. See where you are next summer in terms of an extension, maybe a one-year deal, given he turns 34 in 2025.
OGDEN: I think he feels a bit of a cog in a machine. He has wanted to leave for the past few summers and I imagine it will be the same this summer, but who is going to pay his fee and his wages?
MARCOTTI: Guardiola has shown he doesn’t keep guys around against their will, so if he’s still there, it’s likely because there isn’t a more appealing option for him that works in terms of wages and fees. I think you sit tight, and I think that suits him too. If he decides he wants to go, a year from now maybe he can move on a reduced fee. Or, two years from now, as a 30-year-old free agent, would be even better.
MARCOTTI: He has basically been on loan since 2017. He was at Girona most recently and didn’t really make a splash. Get what you can for the Venezuelan international with a year left on his deal and move on.
Verdict: Find him a new club
MARCOTTI: He’s young, he’s a squad player, he’s fine. He may not grow into a star, but he understands what Guardiola wants from him and he’s ready to step in now and then. You need guys like him to round out the squad.
OGDEN: He hasn’t played a lot this season and has had injuries. If that carries on, who knows? Compare him to Bukayo Saka. If he’d been at Arsenal, he’d be playing a far greater role. He’s 22, which isn’t that young anymore. If his role doesn’t change, he may want to move on.
MARCOTTI: I’m a big Foden guy. He has slipped down the pecking order this season, and I think next year will be key for him. Can he maybe contribute more from central positions? Can he regain a spot out wide? If it’s not working for him, you can think of moving him on — and he can think of moving on — next summer. He’ll still have three years left on his deal and will boast a ton of value in the market.
OGDEN: He has had a very good season, growing into the player Guardiola wanted. You keep him. Easy.
OGDEN: I think he’s been one of their best players this season, along with Haaland and Rodri. But at his age, you’re not going to extend his deal. That said, his contract means you can make a decision next summer.
MARCOTTI: I agree, not least because you have built-in alternatives in Julian Alvarez and Foden who can play his role.