Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Man City transfers: Five players to sell this summer, including signing Guardiola completely misjudged

Ryan Baldi
Kyle Walker, Pep Guardiola and Matheus Nunes

Kyle Walker and Matheus Nunes are just two of the players facing uncertain futures under Pep Guardiola

As they sit just a point off the top of the Premier League and prepare to face Real Madrid in the first leg of a mouth-watering Champions League quarter-final, Manchester City’s hopes of retaining the Treble they won last season are alive and well.

And already rumours swirl over which players Pep Guardiola might add to his star-studded squad this summer to propel the back-to-back-to-back champions of England on to yet further glory. West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta is the latest name linked with a big-money switch to the Etihad.

But almost as big a part of City’s ability to sustain success as their spending in the transfer market is their readiness to move on from players no longer fulfilling a meaningful role within Guardiola’s team.

The departures of the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte in recent seasons felt risky at the time, but hindsight quickly proved City had been savvy in knowing just when to sell to both maximise a financial return to fund further spending and to guard against complacency.

With that in mind, here are five players City should look to sell this summer.

Kalvin Phillips

Currently on loan at West Ham and struggling to win over fans at the London Stadium, the writing is on the wall for Phillips’ City future.

A bizarre signing even at the time, City paid £42 million to acquire the England midfielder from Leeds two years ago. Phillips had impressed in guiding his hometown club back to the top flight and helping them avoid relegation in their Premier League return. He had shown himself to be combative and disciplined in a holding midfield role, while also possessing the passing skills to influence play and the athleticism to spring forward and aid the attack when required.

But there was little about Phillips’ performances that suggested he could make a meaningful impact at arguably the best club side in the world. Signed to be a rotation option amid a heavy schedule of fixtures for a team competing for trophies on all fronts, bad injury luck and sub-par displays in the few opportunities he was afforded meant the 31-cap England international was unable even to attain that status.

City will almost certainly look to offload Phillips this summer, bringing to an end a spell with the club that included just two Premier League starts.

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Kyle Walker

One Yorkshireman who has enjoyed a much more successful time at the Etihad is Kyle Walker. But the full-back will be 34 before the end of the season and, after he came close to joining Bayern Munich last year, this summer might be the right time to bring to an end his glittering seven-year stint in sky blue.

For his consistent delivery from wide, the technical skills that allowed him to thrive under Guardiola in a system that demands more of its full-backs than most, his athleticism up and down the flank and he rapid speed in one-v-one duels with opposition wingers – not to mention his part in five league tiles, two FA Cups and Champions League triumph – there is a strong case to be made that Walker is the best right-back in Premier League history.

But his age, his apparent openness to playing overseas and the emergence of 18-year-old Rico Lewis mean City and Walker can part ways amicably and with the 82-cap England star’s status as an Etihad icon assured.

Matheus Nunes

After City hammered Sporting CP 5-0 in the first leg of a Champions League last-16 tie in 2022, Pep Guardiola hailed then-Sporting midfielder Matheus Nunes as “one of the best players in the world”.

A year and a half later, City swooped to sign the Brazil-born Portugal international from Wolves – for whom he’d played for just one season – in a £53 million deal on transfer deadline day.

Shortly after Nunes arrived at the Etihad, Guardiola admitted that he had been mistaken and that the 25-year-old was not, in fact, of the world’s best.

“Maybe I overexaggerated a little bit,” he said. “He’s not. But he’s an exceptional player.”

The City boss might be minded to wind his statement back even further now, almost a full season into Nunes’ time with the club and with the former Wolves star having made very little impact for the Treble champions.

Except for a gruesome broken finger sustained against FC Copenhagen in the last round of the Champions League, Nunes has been relatively injury free this season. Yet in a campaign that has seen fellow midfielder Kevin De Bruyne limited to just seven Premier League starts, Nunes has hardly figured, starting just six league games.

It is not uncommon for new arrivals to require a season to bed in at City and acclimatise to Guardiola’s demands – that was the case for Jack Grealish after he signed from Aston Villa three years ago, for instance.

But with Paqueta a target and likely to cost in excess of £80 million, City might want to consider cutting their losses on Nunes before his value plummets further.

Joao Cancelo

Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo is still technically a City player, even though he has not played for the club in almost a year and a half.

Cancelo arrived at the Etihad from Juventus in the summer of 2019 in a deal worth £60 million. And his performances for Guardiola’s side in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 title-winning seasons appeared to mark him out as a long-term City star.

But he was loaned to Bayern Munich in last season’s January transfer window and he has spent the whole of 2023-24 out on loan again, this time with Barcelona.

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The 29-year-old has started 23 of Barcelona’s 30 La Liga games so far this season, scoring twice and providing three assists. Whether his future beyond this term lies in Catalonia or elsewhere, east Manchester looks off the table. City should look to make any future move for Cancelo permanent.

Sergio Gomez

Signed from Anderlecht two summers ago to provide cover at left-back, former Spain under-21 international Sergio Gomez has never looked a qualitative fit for City.

Gomez had been Anderlecht’s Player of the Year in his final season with the club, scoring five goals and providing 12 assists in the Belgian top flight. His productivity has not survived the step up to the Premier League level, however, with just two assists to his name across two seasons.

This season, Gomez has made just four substitute’s appearances in the Premier League, for a total of 28 minutes.

The former Borussia Dortmund full-back is still only 23 and therefore will retain some value in the market. It’s time for City to find out exactly how much.

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