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Aleksandar Kolarov Improved at Manchester City, but Luke Shaw Is Ideal Transfer

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27:  Cameron Jerome of Crystal Palace challenges for the ball with Aleksandar Kolarov of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on April 27, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2014

According to a report by Mike Dawes in the Mail Online, Manchester City's Aleksandar Kolarov will be targeted by a host of clubs this summer, including Roma, Juventus and Monaco.

The 28-year-old left-back is thought to be keen to play more games than he does at City, a factor which may see him accept a reduction in wages in order to return to Serie A. He has managed 41 appearances in all competitions this season, a marked increase on the 29 games he managed in Roberto Mancini's final season in charge, but Dawes suggests he still feels he can get more regular football elsewhere.

His new-found regularity at City is deserved. He has made huge improvements to his game under Manuel Pellegrini, particularly going forward, as he's managed six assists in the Premier League alone. However, even given his obvious upturn in form, it may well be the right time for City to cash in.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  Aleksandar Kolarov of Manchester City clashes with Patrick Roberts of Fulham  during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Fulham at Etihad Stadium on March 22, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo
Michael Regan/Getty Images

At his age, it's difficult to see Kolarov getting much better, and even when at his very best, he's still some way short of the level City need if they are going to push on and become an elite European side.

Gael Clichy, City's other left-back option, has largely been usurped by Kolarov this season, with the Frenchman, who was superb last season and fully deserving of his new contract in the summer, suffering an alarming dip in form. He's played just 28 games this season after firmly being City's No. 1 choice for the previous two campaigns.

Despite Clichy's poor season, he still has much more quality in his locker than Kolarov and will surely stay at City for the foreseeable future. If a left-back is to be sold to make way for a better one, it is the Serbian who should be sacrificed.

In his place must come a top-quality, young full-back, who is comfortable in possession and defensively sound, and with City set to let Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and Dedryck Boyata leave, a "homegrown" option would also be advantageous.

Step forward Luke Shaw.

The 18-year-old Southampton man has made a big impression over the past two seasons, establishing himself as a regular at St. Mary's, and forcing his way into Roy Hodgson's England squad. There's certainly no finer young defender playing in the Premier League at the present moment.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Luke Shaw of Southampton is marshalled by Seamus Coleman of Everton  during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Everton at St Mary's Stadium on April 26, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richa
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

His confidence belies his tender years, consistently demanding the ball and looking to attack down the flank, whilst being comfortable with the defensive side of the game. He's got the makings of a complete modern-day full-back, with the potential to become an England regular in the years to come.

With Pellegrini and Txiki Begiristain both desperate to see City's possession-based attacking style become embedded in the club's culture, buying young, talented players like Shaw, who enjoy being in possession of the ball and looking to create, is surely central to their strategy.

City, of course, will face stiff competition, particularly from Chelsea, Shaw's boyhood club, via Liam Prenderville of The Mirror. With Ashley Cole less prominent in Jose Mourinho's side, they, too, will be looking for a new left-back. City will have to demonstrate the same swift, organised transfer strategy that served them so well last season if they are to move to the front of the queue and outdo their rivals.

 

Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.

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