Pep Guardiola admits Manchester City need to replace ‘seven or eight players’ in the coming years – but is reluctant to ‘rip the heart and soul out of the club’.
Key to their recent success has been the potency of an attack reinvigorated by the arrival of Gabriel Jesus and the improved form of Leroy Sane.
Jesus, the £27million signing from Palmeiras, has shone in his first three games while Sane, after a slow start since his £37million arrival last summer, has scored three goals in his last four appearances.
The pair are 19 and 21 years old respectively and, combined with 22-year-old Raheem Sterling, City’s attacking line is full of youthful promise.
Guardiola’s next challenge will be to freshen up his defence. All four of his senior full-backs – Pablo Zabaleta (32), Bacary Sagna (33), Gael Clichy (31) and Aleksandar Kolarov (31) – are among those who could make way at the end of the season.
Guardiola said: “We realise that we have a lot of players over 30. For example, full-backs are 31, 32.
“But they are so important. We cannot change absolutely everything in one season. I can understand how important Yaya (Toure), Kolarov or Gael are, or the personality from Pablo, in the locker room.
“At the end, the heart and soul of the team are the old players, the people who know the club.
“Sooner or later of course the process is going to change. I think the situation is starting but it cannot be possible to do that for eight, nine players.
“It is impossible because every player costs £45-50million and it is not good to change seven, eight or nine players.”