Predicting Manchester City's Starting XI on Opening Day of 2014-15 EPL Season

Rob Pollard@@RobPollard_Featured ColumnistMay 6, 2014

Predicting Manchester City's Starting XI on Opening Day of 2014-15 EPL Season

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    Manchester City, buoyed by what looks like being a successful first season in charge for Manuel Pellegrini, are likely to make further additions to their squad this summer in order to continue their improvement.

    Progression in Europe and continued domestic success is what they crave, and the right signings this summer could see them move up another level.

    Here Bleacher Report takes a look at their possible starting XI next season, including a couple of potential new faces.

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart

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    There are still some deficiencies in Joe Hart's game. His distribution is lacking, and his ability to command his area and deal with crosses and corners leaves a little to be desired.

    However, his improvement since his return to the side in December has been good enough to ensure that he keeps his place ahead of next season.

    His crucial save at Goodison Park on Sunday was the latest indication of his improving confidence, and with his "homegrown" status a huge bonus given City's difficulty complying with the required quota, Hart is likely to start next season in goal, something it would have been difficult to argue back in October.

Right-Back: Pablo Zabaleta

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    Pablo Zabaleta remains firmly City's No.1 right-back, but with Micah Richards likely to depart, he will face stronger competition for his place than he has during the past two seasons.

    Bacary Sagna is rumoured to be joining the club (via the Guardian), and he is one of the finest full-backs in the league. His versatility means he will be wonderful addition if the free transfer can be finalised, but Zabaleta is undoubtedly first choice.

Centre-Back: Vincent Kompany

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    City's captain may have made some errors in recent weeks, but he is still quite rightly regarded as one of the finest centre-backs in world football.

    He is the leader of the club, both on and off the pitch, with his strength and reading of the game the envy of teams across Europe.

    His place in the side is secure; however, a long-term partner may well turn out to be high up the club's list of summer transfer priorities...

Centre-Back: Eliaquim Mangala

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    If City could only target one player this summer, it's very likely they would opt to make it a top-class partner for Kompany.

    Martin Demichelis has been superb in recent weeks, but at 33, he was never intended to be a long-term option.

    Eliaquim Mangala is a player City tried to sign in January, only for the deal to fall through at the 11th hour, and renewed interest would hardly be a surprise.

    His price tag has been set very high, but if City can successfully negotiate, they may well be tempted to try to complete the deal this summer.

Left-Back: Gael Clichy

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    There's a chance City will target a left-back, with Luke Shaw, Southampton's outstanding young prospect, surely the top of their list, but his price tag means a deal may prove out of reach.

    City have also been linked with Monaco wonderkid Monaco's Layvin Kurzawa (via the Star), suggesting improving their left-back options is a priority.

    Shaw would surely be their preferred option, but it's a deal full of potential obstacles, meaning Gael Clichy may well be lining up at left-back again next season.

Midfield: Fernandinho

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    In terms of impact, Fernandinho's first season in English football has been remarkable.

    His energy, tenaciousness, defensive qualities and passing ability make him the perfect foil for Yaya Toure, and it's the Brazilian's arrival that has allowed Toure to score 23 goals in all competitions.

    It's beyond those two players where City have struggled, and reinforcements are likely to arrive this summer. Expect Fernando, the Porto defensive midfielder who City targeted in January, to come in and provide competition to the club’s first-choice pair.

Midfield: Yaya Toure

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    If there's one player whose place in the City side is secure, it's arguably Toure. He has had an outstanding season and continues to improve despite his age.

    He is a unique midfield force, capable of dictating the tempo of a game and producing magical moments of power and skill that win matches.

    The way he burst through the gears to score his wonder goal at Selhurst Park recently perfectly sums up his capabilities. He's an incredible player.

Midfield: Samir Nasri

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    What a remarkable turnaround in form.

    Samir Nasri looked almost certain to leave City at the end of the 2012-13 season, but the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini has reignited his flagging form, so much so he is considered one of the stars of City's season.

    His touch and verve is back, as his desire to take players on and create space for the side. He's a wonderful player when on form, and he has made himself indispensable this season with a series of excellent performances.

Midfield: David Silva

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    It's no exaggeration to say David Silva is City's greatest player of the last 20 years, maybe even the finest in the club's history.

    When fit and on form, he's the best player in the Premier League, making his omission from this year's PFA Team of the Year staggering.

    The problem City have is that they rely on him heavily, understandable given his brilliance but disruptive when he’s unavailable. His place is guaranteed, unless the unthinkable happened and he was targeted by one of Europe's elite.

Striker: Sergio Aguero

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    Much like Silva, Sergio Aguero is central to City's attack. His 17 league goals in just 19 games says everything you need to know about his potency in front of goal.

    Fending off the inevitable approaches for his signature will be hugely important, but if City can keep hold of him, he will once again lead their attack next season.

Striker: Edinson Cavani

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    It may seem unlikely given he only signed for Paris Saint-Germain last summer, but Edinson Cavani may just be available in the summer and City should make him a target.

    Cavani was assured he would play in a 4-4-2 at the Parc des Princes, but a system shift, which now sees him deployed wide in a three-man forward line, has seen him grow frustrated.

    He would be ideal for City, with a two-pronged attack alongside Aguero seemingly the perfect fit. With the width and crossing ability of Jesus Navas and James Milner when they make appearances, he could well score plenty.