5 Manchester City Players Whose Stock Has Fallen in 2013-14
It's been a wonderful year for Manchester City. Their new manager lifted the heavy gloom which had descended on the club the season before, and a new, free-flowing style of football was introduced.
A League Cup and a Premier League title later, and it looks like an inspired decision.
Most players in the City squad have enhanced their reputation under Manuel Pellegrini, but which have suffered and seen their stock fall?
Here's a list of the six whose form decreased the most.
With chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak promising another swift and concise transfer window that will see players come and go, the following individuals may well find themselves elsewhere come the start of next season.
1. Micah Richards
This season has felt like the end for Micah Richards at Manchester City.
Only two seasons ago, he was a key member of the title-winning squad, but he's been confined to the sidelines this year after a succession of injuries saw him suffer.
He made just two league appearances all season and none since the turn of the year. With just 12 months left on his current deal, it seems certain he will leave, despite Daniel Taylor at the Guardian reporting the club have attempted to sign him to a new one.
It's a sad end to what has been a glorious 11 years at the club for Richards. Of all the players City brought through their academy pre-Mansour, only he had the quality to remain involved after heavy investment in the first-team squad.
2. Jack Rodwell
After looking excellent in between his muscle injuries last season, showing numerous flashes of his quality despite disruptions, this campaign has been very different for Jack Rodwell.
He's managed just 23 minutes in the league so far in 2014 and has understandably looked short of quality and sharpness during those fleeting appearances. After two injury-hit campaigns, and with Pellegrini seemingly unimpressed with his ability, it seems likely Rodwell will leave during this transfer window.
3. Gael Clichy
Unlike Richards and Rodwell, Gael Clichy's downturn this season is unlikely to lead to an exit. Clichy has too much experience and quality to be written off after one disappointing campaign, but there's little doubt he needs to reverse his recent decline if he is to force his way back ahead of Aleksandar Kolarov to become City's first-choice left-back once more.
He's looked a yard slower this season and less able defensively, a combination which saw some dreadful performances early in the season, particularly at Stamford Bridge during the club's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. He improved somewhat thereafter, but he has failed to hit the heights of the previous two campaigns.
4. Matija Nastasic
In terms of natural ability, there are very few young defenders in Europe who can compete with Matija Nastasic. For the most part, he's calm and assured, with a reading and appreciation of the game which defies his young age.
However, this season has been difficult. After a breathless first year in English football, in which he announced himself in style, his form dipped under Pellegrini. Injuries then destroyed any chance he had of improving.
With just 13 Premier League appearances across the season and three since the new year, Nastasic will want to bury all memory of this campaign and concentrate on showing Pellegrini what he's capable of when the next one gets underway in August.
5. Costel Pantilimon
Most people will see Costel Pantilimon's inclusion here as strange. He played in the league for the first time since joining City when he kept goal for six weeks during Joe Hart's enforced absence and won the League Cup—playing all but one round in the competition, including the final against Sunderland.
However, his failure to convince that he is a legitimate long-term option for City during those opportunities is exactly why his stock has fallen.
Under the glare of being a City first-team player, Pantilimon showed a distinct lack of character, looked unable to command his area with any certainty and gave Hart a run for his money in terms of poor distribution. His seven-game run in the side, although not catastrophic, was unconvincing at best.
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