8 Manchester City Players Who Won't Return Next Season
After watching the Sky Blues hoist the Premier League trophy for the second time in three seasons, Manchester City supporters can finally sort of appreciate how Manchester United supporters used to feel.
The 2013-14 City title, while notable for Manuel Pellegrini's charming opening act as manager, lacked a defining moment. The lasting memory for City fans of this title run will be Steven Gerrard falling on his backside against Chelsea.
That is not to say that this past trophy did not matter. It did, a great deal. Whereas the first title could be discounted as a one-off by United supporters and Chelsea backers, this second title pointedly announced City's present status as the bully on the block in the Premier League.
In the moment that they are lifting the trophy, every championship team feels to fans like it should be kept intact. If they won this season, supporters feel, there is no reason that they cannot run it back and do it again.
But it rarely ever works out that way. Contracts end, players who quietly chafed at short playing time during the title run start speaking up, and older players are moved on for new blood as the vicious cycle of athletics predictably claims veteran footballers.
City are likely to be without many familiar names and faces in 2014-15. Some of the following names have already been publicly kissed off, but all are still listed as City property on the club website.
For these eight, though, that designation is not likely to last much longer.
If you had told Manchester City fans last summer that Costel Pantilimon would be City's starting goalkeeper for seven Premier League matches, a common concern would be how serious Joe Hart's injury was.
But Hart was not hurt in 2013-14, at least not physically. Hart did lose his form, though, in an alarming enough fashion to cause Manuel Pellegrini to drop Hart temporarily.
Had Pantilimon performed poorly, there is no telling how the season might have turned out. Thankfully for City fans, Pantilimon was more than adequate and at times he was very good while Hart was sorting himself out.
Pantilimon also had a huge role in City's Capital One Cup run, which yielded even more silver.
City released Pantilimon last month, surely with a debt of gratitude and sincere wishes for continued success in his future endeavors.
Recent City converts and acolytes will only know Joleon Lescott as the centre-back who could not supplant a shaky Martin Demichelis this season.
Or maybe as the guy who gifted Queens Park Rangers their first goal with that awful back pass in the last match of the 2011-12 season, only to have Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero get him off the hook.
Those perceptions do Lescott no justice. He was a high-profile, expensive signing when he came to City from Everton in 2009. And despite his error against QPR, City would not have been in that position at all without his 30 Premier League starts in 2011-12.
With Vincent Kompany, Lescott formed one of the most feared centre-back pairings in the league that year.
Lescott also received his release in May.
It may not have been all that much fun to watch Gareth Barry play in Manchester City's midfield. One imagines, though, that it probably was not much fun for his opponents to play against him, either.
What Barry lacked in sheer pace and panache, he more than made up for with durability, pitch smarts and the knack for the timely goal.
Indeed, City were very pleased to see Barry held out of their visit to Goodison Park to face Everton this spring. Barry, still City property, could not play for the Toffees against his parent club. He had excelled for Everton for much of the season.
Released by City in May, Barry has recently been the subject of contract talks with Everton, according to Sky Sports.
"Gareth Barry we would love to keep and that is ongoing work," said Everton chairman Bill Kenwright per that Sky Sports report.
The writing that has been on the wall for Micah Richards at Manchester City was recently underlined and highlighted.
Richards started only two games in the Premier League for City this season. He did not even qualify for a winner's medal when the Sky Blues claimed the title.
And now City have signed Bacary Sagna on a free transfer from Arsenal, and Richards' hopes of playing right-back at City any time soon are effectively gone.
The news is not all bad for Richards, though. Per Gary Jones of the Daily Star, "Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is understood to be preparing a £7 million bid for the 25-year-old and will be be able to offer the chance of more Champions League action next season."
Much as Richards may have once loved being a Sky Blue, you can easily imagine him relishing the opportunity to show City twice a season the mistake they made in giving up on him.
Scott Sinclair is not the most famous flop of the ill-fated Manchester City summer transfer class of 2012, but he is surely near the top of that list.
Heralded as a pacy wing player who could help then-manager Roberto Mancini open up the Sky Blues' offense, Sinclair instead sputtered badly in his 11 appearances under Mancini.
Sinclair did not show new boss Manuel Pellegrini enough to fit in the new regime, so Sinclair ended up on loan to West Bromwich Albion.
Simon Jones of the Daily Mail reported in May that Southampton "are tracking Sinclair in a bid to revive his ailing career. City are keen to shed their playing squad to comply with FIFA's Financial Fair Play Regulations."
If Jones' estimate of a £3 million offer from the Saints is accurate, City will take a £3.2 million hit on what they paid to Swansea City to secure Sinclair two summers ago.
At some level, though, City ought to be happy that anyone is interested in Sinclair after he wasted two seasons of his athletic prime.
Scott Sinclair's signing by Manchester City in the summer of 2012 was a big disappointment, for sure. But the biggest bust of that lost summer was Jack Rodwell.
City paid Everton £12 million for Rodwell. It is hard to remember now, but there was a time when David Moyes was one of the sharpest personnel minds in the Premier League.
Rodwell's tenure at City has been an expensive fiasco. While no one expected him to simply supplant players like Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri, City supporters surely thought Rodwell would see meaningful minutes in Sky Blue.
But it never happened.
"The 23-year-old has made just seven Premier League starts for City...and wants to revive his career," wrote James Nursey for the Irish Mirror in May.
"Newcastle and Everton are set to battle it out to land Jack Rodwell this summer," Nursey further observed.
John Guidetti must be taking it pretty personally by now.
Guidetti has been yanked around a bit by Manchester City in the past few seasons. In 2013-14, Guidetti was loaned out to Stoke City. Not exactly a striker's mecca, that.
He may as well cancel any plans to be in Manchester this coming season, either. City have four expensive strikers ahead of Guidetti on their depth chart, and there simply is no room for another.
That had to sting.
Unlike the prior seven players profiled in this piece, Manchester City definitely do not want James Milner to leave the Etihad.
Unfortunately for the Citizens, it really is not up to them any more.
Milner has one year remaining on his current contract, and City are reportedly interested in keeping Milner on at the types of wages normally reserved for full-time players.
And there is the rub.
Milner surely knows that, barring a few injuries to the mega-watt star midfielders ahead of him on City's depth chart, staying on at City means sporadic starts and frequent 20-minute runs at the end of matches to button down one-goal leads.
You can hardly blame Milner for wanting more. "The 28-year-old is a summer transfer target, with Arsenal and Liverpool amongst those interested," wrote Gary Jones for the Daily Star.
The thought of Milner plying his earnest trade for those City rivals has to be unsettling to Sky Blues supporters.