5 players Manchester City could lose if their appeal against their European ban fails
- A look at five key Manchester City players who could move on if the club's two-year European ban is not rescinded.
- All of the said players have won a lot of domestic titles at the club but the Champions League has eluded them.
While everyone was busy celebrating Valentine's Day, Manchester City received a piece of shocking news on February 14. UEFA informed the Premier League giants that they had been banned from participating in the UEFA Champions League for the next two seasons and were slapped a fine of £2 5 million as well.
The reason? The club was found guilty by UEFA's club financial control body (CFCB) of having falsely inflated their sponsorship revenues when they made submissions for the FFP (Financial fair play) compliance process.
Four months later, the latest update on this story is that Manchester City have appealed against the ban in The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and the final decision is expected to be issued during the first half of July.
Though players like Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte had claimed that they remain committed to the club despite the ban, we can't rule out an exodus of some of Manchester City's key players once the final verdict is delivered.
Manchester City face a very real possibility of missing out on Europe's elite club competition and the incentives associated with it. On that note, we take a look at five Manchester City players who may leave the Etihad Stadium in the summer if the club fails to get rid of the ban.
(Note: Only players considering moving due to the ban are discussed here, players like David Silva and Angelino who were already on their way out are not considered.)
Five Manchester City players who could leave the club if it fails to overturn its two-year European ban:
1: Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is probably the best player in his position. He is now in his prime and would not have a shortage of suitors if he decides to move away from Manchester City when the current season ends.
De Bruyne has won every major honour in England with the Sky Blues, but when it comes to UEFA competitions, he has come up short. The Belgian, who will be 29 this month, has to take into account that his loyalty with Manchester City could cost him a shot at lifting the coveted Champions League trophy. And that would be at a moment when he could play a pivotal role in a title-run at a club like Real Madrid.
He conceded in an interview in March that he might consider staying at Manchester City if the ban was reduced to one year. De Bruyne had said the following in this regard:
"I have confidence in my club. If they are saying it's true, then I believe them. We'll wait and see what happens. Once there's a final decision, I will look at it."
"Two years (without Champions League football) would be long. One year is something I might be able to cope with," added De Bruyne.
2: Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero will go down as one of the greatest strikers to have graced the Premier League, as and when he decides to part ways with Manchester City. His contract with the Manchester-based club expires next summer, and it was suggested that he might let it run its course. However, it seems that the club might have to let him go at the end of this season if their appeal against their European ban is not upheld.
In the nine seasons Aguero has been with Manchester City, he has provided the club with exceptional service. The Argentine has played a pivotal role in all of Manchester City's four Premier League titles, that included a clutch last-gasp goal against QPR that helped City snatch the title from their rivals Manchester United on the final day of the 2011-12 season.
It is understood from reports that Manchester City is willing to let the striker go if he requests for the same. Given that Aguero is 31 now, he would like to win the Champions League before he is past his prime.
3: Riyad Mahrez
Any club would be lucky to have a player like Riyad Mahrez in their ranks, but at Manchester City the Algerian often finds himself overlooked. Despite having the third-highest goal involvement this season, which is only behind that of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, Mahrez has struggled for game-time at Manchester City.
With Leroy Sane also on the verge of making a comeback in the squad following a long injury layoff, Mahrez might find himself pushed even further down the pecking order. Pep Guardiola, on his part, made sure that the Algerian winger started regularly in the Champions League, but if the two-season ban remains in place, it would be difficult for the Spaniard to justify having a player like Mahrez regularly on the bench.
Mahrez has won the Premier League twice now and was even the recipient of the prestigious PFA Players' Player of the Year and Fans' Player of the year awards in 2016. So, with Mahrez reaching his 30s, he might want to spend the next two years, probably his final prime years, in pursuit of continental silverware.
It was reported in March that PSG are interested in signing Mahrez, and the player himself is interested in a move to France.
4: Ederson Moraes
Like most of the players in this list, Ederson Moraes too is one of the best players in his position in the world at the moment. Not only he's an exceptional shot-stopper, but he's very comfortable in possession and has excellent distribution for a keeper.
Unfortunately, Moraes' rise to fame coincided with the emergence of another great Brazilian goalkeeper in Alisson Becker. The Liverpool No.1 is often picked in the starting eleven for the national team ahead of Ederson Moraes.
With the Copa America rescheduled to next year, Moraes has to make sure he gets as many chances to show why he should be selected ahead of Alisson Becker in the competition. In this regard, a lack of games against Europe's elite clubs in the Champions League is just the kind of thing Moraes would look to avoid.
5: Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling has matured into one of the most complete wingers in the game under Pep Guardiola. It is understood that the player has a great relationship with the coach and would like to stay with him at Manchester City, but only if the ban is overturned.
Though having the right manager is sometimes as important as being with the right team, in football, where players tend to stay at the top for only a short time, prioritising loyalty over greener pastures elsewhere can prove costly in the career of a player.
Sterling is 25 years old now and at the peak of his career. He has won a lot with Manchester City domestically, but has not found success at the continental level with the Sky Blues. Moreover. Sterling also has not reached his full potential for England.
So, with the EUROs coming up next year, a lack of high-level competitive football in the Champions League can make Sterling a bit rusty for the same. No European football would also mean that he would have to wait two seasons before he can establish himself as one of the best attackers in the game.Published 14 Jun 2020, 21:40 IST