Manchester City’s 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday all but secured their place in next season’s Champions League, ensuring that Pep Guardiola will be able to attract the talent he craves while performing a massive player clear out at the club.
The likes of Eliaquim Mangala, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri and Joe Hart will certainly be sold in the summer, and the futures of Fernando, Jesus Navas, Fabian Delph, Nolito, Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Yaya Toure and perhaps even Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany may lie elsewhere.
With a rumored war chest of £250 million being granted to Guardiola, it’s going to be a summer of upheaval in Manchester. Regardless of what transpires behind them, City do have two attacking players upon which the future of the club rests: 25-year-old Kevin De Bruyne and 20-year-old Gabriel Jesus.
De Bruyne is one of the greatest creators in the world, and his season justifies that tag: six goals and 16 assists in 32 Premier League starts. Jesus only joined the club in January, and a broken foot then severely limited his action, but he’s still managed to score six goals and register three assists in only seven league starts.
Against West Brom, the two combined for City’s first two goals. The first was down to some sensational play from De Bruyne on the left. His low cross allowed Jesus to tap in from close range.
The second saw Jesus pick out De Bruyne at the top of the box after a flowing City move, and the Belgian attacker buried his shot.
That’s two world-class goals from two world-class players. Guardiola’s inability to win the treble in his first season in England, or a trophy for that matter, is the criticism of an idiot. What he should be judged on is how his side developed and played, and if his team ever came close to implementing the imitable style of his philosophy.
In some matches they certainly shown (the Champions League reverse encounter with Barcelona springs to mind), but it others they faltered damnably (two draws with Middlesbrough). Guardiola knows he really only has one more season to come good, but with De Bruyne and Jesus, he knows he has a large part of the puzzle in place.