With the English Premier League (EPL) season coming to a close, it seems that Manchester City will fall just short of winning a title that looked to be firmly in their grasp for much of the season.
City currently trail rivals Manchester United by five points, and despite still having to play against each other in a highly anticipated derby, it would be nothing short of a shocker if the Red Devils give up their lead atop the table.
But while they may not end up with the title this year, there have been signs that point toward City reaching its goal in the very near future.
As Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said last year, when discussing City's ability to attract players in the transfer market:
"...Because of the wages they can pay, everybody at the moment wants to go to Man City and it's a great club to go to. They will win the championship in two or three years, for sure."
Here are five reasons why Manchester City will bring Redknapp's prediction to fruition next season.
Will the Citizens be successful next year? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
The mercurial Argentinian is one of the best strikers in the world when he decides that he is in the mood to play.
Since his return to the City squad, following the now infamous quarrel with Roberto Mancini, Tevez has been in great form, scoring a hat-trick in his most recent match—a 6-1 destruction of Norwich City.
His return to the squad has given City an extra boost in their attempt to catch Manchester United for the league crown, even if they don't quite get there.
Tevez recently apologized to his manager, teammates and fans for his actions this season, which included a lengthy vacation during the middle of the schedule which saw the former West Ham man go AWOL.
But despite that apology, Mancini has stated that he is unsure whether or not the striker will still be at the Etihad Stadium next season.
"I don't know. I don't know this," the Italian manager said. "It depends. Now I think it is important that we think about the next four games. After that, at the end of the season, we will see what can happen with all the players."
There has been much speculation surrounding the future of the former City captain, with teams across Europe linked with his services for quite some time now.
But since returning to the squad, he has proven that he is an extremely valuable asset to the club, and can be a major factor in helping the team win a title.
His antics during the middle of the EPL season may have lost him some supporters on the blue half of Manchester, but if Tevez continues his great play, he will quickly regain the support that saw him become the most beloved player on the squad a little over a year ago.
There is always the danger that the 28-year-old could cause commotion once again next year, but if he doesn’t, he could be one of the main reasons why City storm to the EPL crown.
Like Tevez, the Italian striker is a supremely talented footballer.
When he is not sulking on the pitch or arguing over the chance to take a free-kick, Mario Balotelli has the ability to win a match all on his own. In fact, the enigmatic youngster is tied with Edin Dzeko for second on the team scoring chart with 13 Premier League goals this season.
With his great skill on the ball and excellent shooting ability, Balotelli is always a threat to unlock the opposition’s defense.
Unfortunately for City supporters, the 21-year-old striker has caused endless headaches for manager Roberto Mancini this season.
From his fireworks debacle in October to his unexpected appearance at an Inter press conference last month, Balotelli has made more headlines for his antics off the field than on it.
When he isn’t causing trouble away from the pitch, he is often doing so on it, with a propensity to pick up silly bookings on display throughout the year—see the recent match against Arsenal.
You will be hard-pressed to find someone who supports the striker more often than this writer. Despite his terrible judgment, his talent is absolutely incredible, which is why I continually hope that he will put an end to his childish antics once and for all, and become the world-class player that he should be.
But keeping Balotelli around doesn’t make sense for a club that has endless funds available to go out and buy a player of the same quality, who doesn’t bring along all of the extra baggage.
If City can rid themselves of the weekly circus that is Mario Balotelli, they will be much better suited for a title run next year.
Whether or not they win the Premier League title this year, there is no denying that City have the most complete squad in England.
In almost every position, Roberto Mancini can depend on two supremely talented players to go out and get the job done.
That type of quality is something that only a select few teams on the continent can boast— even if it has been secured through the influx of money from multi-billionaire owner Sheik Mansour.
Football purists may not like it, but City have an incredible core of players to build on already.
With England No. 1 Joe Hart in goal, captain Vincent Kompany marshaling the defense, a midfield loaded with stars and a superb young striker in Sergio Aguero, there are world-class players all over the pitch.
The squad is only missing the final pieces of the puzzle now, as opposed to the key building blocks.
Given the club's available transfer budget, there is no reason to believe that they won’t go out and get who they need this summer.
The signings they make should be enough to get them over the hump.
For all of the quality within the City squad this year—and there is a lot of it—not many players on the roster have experienced a top-flight European title race quite like this.
While there are former champions with the likes of Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg), Yaya Toure (Barcelona), Kolo Toure (Arsenal) and Tevez (Manchester United), much of the current squad has never experienced a battle like the one they have endured this year with their city rivals.
There’s a reason so many people discuss the importance of knowing how to win in football, and United certainly has that trait in droves.
Red Devils' defender Rio Ferdinand recently said his team has the experience to remain calm and do what it takes to win the league title.
Said Ferdinand after United narrowly beat Fulham 1-0 in late March:
"It happens every year and at this stage of the season we know what it takes...The crowd got a bit edgy at the end of the game, understandably. But if it's 0-0 after 8 minutes we still know we're going to create chances in the dying moments to win games. It's important to keep that in mind."
City have been progressing up the table steadily since the 2008-09 campaign, and this year's experience will go a long way towards helping the team take the final step next season.
As with every season, transfer rumors have been in high gear for quite some time, with a number of names being linked to the Etihad Stadium throughout the season.
The likes of Robin Van Persie, Luka Modric, Eden Hazard and Axel Witsel—among others— have all been mentioned as possible targets for the Citizens once the transfer window opens on July 1.
Some of the City players are already making their pitch to try and attract world-class talent to the club this summer. Striker Edin Dzeko recently gave his two cents on Modric, who seems destined to leave White Hart Lane.
"Everyone is after him, but I would love it if he came to City," Dzeko told The Sun. "He would be a great addition. Besides that, he would have everything at City - Champions league, fighting for the title, great wages. I am cheering for him to choose City."
They won't get all of the players that have been rumored recently, but with the amount of money that the club can throw at players, they will certainly make a few high profile signings this summer.
This squad already has the foundation to be a dominant force for years to come, and with a few new pieces, City will be ready to win an English first-division title for the first time since 1967-68.