Yaya Toure leaving for the Ivory Coast training camp on Saturday leaves a gaping hole in the Manchester City midfield.
Although Manchester City has signed numerous players since 2008, none have been more impacting in the midfield than Toure, who moved to the Etihad Stadium from Barcelona in July of 2010.
With the Ivorian leaving for the African Cup of Nations along with his brother and City teammate Kolo Toure, Manchester City could be without Toure until as late as February 11th depending on how the Ivory Coast fare in the tournament.
Mancini has to find a way to fill the void that Toure leaves in midfield. He has two options: either bring in a top-name midfielder that can play in the center of midfield, or find a replacement from within the surplus of players on City's roster.
If Mancini splurges into the transfer marker, his No. 1 choice is Daniele De Rossi. De Rossi has been a solid player in midfield for Roma in Series A and for the Italian national team.
De Rossi would be a very good replacement for Toure and would also provide cover for Toure when he returns in February. The De Rossi deal would have to be long-term and would give City more midfield cover as well as allow Mancini to play the Italian and Toure together in midfield at some point, a pairing that would be feared in the Premier League.
The more interesting option for replacing Toure is to use the surplus of players that City have sitting on their bench.
One name that comes to mind is Nigel de Jong.
De Jong may not be as much of an attacking force that Toure is, but he is a rock in midfield despite his style of play. The Dutchman has not played much this season due to injury and, with the midfielder being out of contract in June, he will be looking to impress his current club so he can receive either an extension or an offer from another club.
Besides de Jong, Gareth Barry could also be in line to help City's midfield as he offers a better attacking option than de Jong. Barry will not be available for the FA Cup match with Manchester United due to suspension, but after the England international returns from suspension he could provide City with a viable option while Toure is gone.
There is no doubt Yaya Toure will be missed in the Manchester City lineup, and it will be interesting to see how Manchester City replaces the Ivorian whether it be through a transfer or from within.
Roberto Mancini has a big decision to make, starting with Sunday's FA Cup third-round Manchester derby. By the way this season has been going for his club, the Italian manager will make the right decision.