Manchester City: How They Could Line Up Next Season
Manchester City are off the back of their most successful season since the glory days of the 1970's.
Days where the likes of Colin Bell and Francis Lee ensured City were regular fixtures in and amongst Europe's best.
FA Cup winners and finishing third in the Premier League, the super-rich City will be tasting Champions League football for the first time.
Here we take a look at how the side could line up come the beginning of next season.
There are not a lot of changes as City already have a strong squad, and they will only add where necessary this summer.
GK: Joe Hart
The best goalkeeper in the Premier League last term and England's No. 1 for the next 10 years.
Hart is a natural leader and epitomises what is good about this Manchester City side.
Agile, great shot-stopper and presence, Joe Hart is on the verge of becoming the best 'keeper in the world...and fast.
RB: Micah Richards
If I was writing this at the beginning of last season then Micah Richards would probably not have been in this XI.
He has though in the last 12 months—when fit—been the best attacking full-back in the Premier League.
A huge threat going forward, and ever improving defensively Richards is now Roberto Mancini's No.1 right-back.
Strong, quick and unorthodox, Richards will soon be back in the England squad if performances continue.
Already better than Glen Johnson, Richards has matured into a very good player.
CB: Vincent Kompany
The real deal. The most-improved defender in the Premier League and the "true" captain of this brilliant Manchester City side.
Kompany has become the most important City player over the last two years.
A no-nonsense defender, the big Belgian has formed a superb partnership with Joleon Lescott.
Excellent in the air, and composed on the ball, Kompany is a real leader and along with Joe Hart and Nigel De Jong this is his Manchester City.
CB: Joleon Lescott
A big money buy from Everton two seasons ago, it looked as though City had made a mistake after Lescott failed to make an impression in his first season.
Injuries and a dip in form saw Lescott banished to the bench as Kompany and Kolo Toure began last season in fine form.
But with Toure injured and then later caught up in the infamous doping scandal, Lescott has quietly gone about his business, effectively ending Toure's chances of regular first-team football at Eastlands.
The perfect foil for Kompany, Lescott is quick and does the simple things well.
LB: Leighton Baines
Rumours are rife that the vastly improved Leighton Baines could leave cash-strapped Everton this summer.
With Manchester City reportedly to be keen.
The England left-back has the sweetest of left foots.
His performances for Everton this year at times have been breath-taking.
Solid at back and superb delivery, Baines maybe seen as a more consistent option to Aleksander Kolarov, and a more talented option than Pablo Zabeleta.
City though will have to pay through the nose for his services, Everton have quoted £20 million-plus add to that thefact David Moyes loves City and Roberto Mancini may have to pay over the odds for his man.
CM: Nigel DE Jong
The much maligned Nigel De Jong will always be in the City side as long as Roberto Mancini is at the helm.
The Italian tactician needs the Dutch enforcer more than anyone.
He patrols middle of the park like a pit-bull patrols his back-yard. Another natural leader, De Jong knows his limitations.
He wins the ball, then passes it to a more creative force.
As defensive midfielders go, there are none better than better than De Jong.
CM: James Milner
Next season you will see the real James Milner at Manchester City.
After being touted as one of England's biggest prospects, he was bought from Aston Villa at the beginning of last season.
Injuries and a lack of first opportunities have seen Milner cut a frustrated figure at times this season.
But with the number of games that City are due to play next season Milner's hunger, fitness and desire will see him be given the nod in-front Gareth Barry.
A gifted player, who looks better when occupied in central midfield, he will offer a better attacking threat than England teammate Barry.
CB: Yaya Toure
The big Ivorian can do no wrong in the eyes of Manchester City fans.
He has written himself into City folklore with goals in the semifinal against Manchester United, and the final against Stoke.
A truly world-class footballer, Toure at times last season looked unplayable.
Deceptively quick, superbly skilled and above all else mountain of a man makes Yaya Toure so hard to play against.
Given a more advanced position by Roberto Mancini than what we saw when playing for Barcelona, he seems comfortable wherever he is put.
CF: David Silva
The most important cog in this well oiled City machine,
David Silva was the marquee signing of last season.
The Spaniard was the big-money summer signing from Valencia.
A creative force not seen at City since the days of Ali Benarbia and Eyal Berkovic (I'm aware that Silva is much better than both these players before you comment).
His sometimes telepathic understanding with Carlos Tevez was the highlight of City's attacking play.
Seemed light-weight and a little weak at the start of the season, but his work-rate and tracking back where marked improvements during the second-half of the season.
CF: Mario Balotelli
There is never a dull moment when Mario Balotelli is around.
Signed at the beginning of last season from Inter Milan, Balotelli had an...interesting campaign.
In the media more than he was in the side, the Italian looks to have finally settled.
Roberto Mancini showed his trust in the youngster when picking him to start against Stoke in the FA Cup final, where he was duly named man of the match.
His most impressive performance though came against Manchester United in the semi-final. Asked to lead the line in the absence of Carlos Tevez, Balotelli was excellent again putting in a first class display.
Hugely talented and hugely controversial, Balotelli will be a big-time player at Manchester City next season.
CF: Carlos Tevez
This teams talisman. Carlos Tevez has been the best signing of the Sheik Mansour era at City.
He has scored a boat load of goals and been the man the side have turned to when they needed to be dragged home.
An instinctive player and one of the worlds greatest striker, Tevez is a maverick and you never know what he is thinking.
His work-rate and ability are second to none, and despite all the rumours, he will be at City next season.
And with him in the side anything is possible.
Best of the Rest
Manchester City next season will be much more than the starting XI.
With the owners looking for a run in the Champions League and the focus switching to winning the Premier League, Manchester City will need their squad.
Gareth Barry: Work-horse and favourite of Mancini. Barry will still be a key player next season.
Edin Dzeko: Struggled to make an impression after arriving in January. City will look at Dzeko to help Carlos Tevez in the scoring stakes.
Pablo Zabeleta: A true hard-man and the best utility player in the Premier League. Expect Zabaleta to be there or there abouts all season.
Adam Johnson: Exceptionally talented winger Johnson has improved towards the end of the season. Mancini likes him and again he will play a number of games.
Aleksander Kolarov: Unlucky not to make the starting XI, the Serb seems to be much better going forward than he is at defending. His quality delivery and explosive shot will see him play games.
Kolo Toure: Will be back in around the side once his ban expires in September. Toure is another leader and if he can find his form is massive boost.
Marek Hamsik: City have been linked with the Napoli play-maker in the last week, could be a superb understudy for David Silva, another maverick.
Gonzalo Higuain: Has been tipped with a move away from Real Madrid, the Argentine striker scores goals in abundance.
A new goalkeeper: Shay Given will leave in the summer and a new No. 2 will be needed to cover Joe Hart...