Manchester City are prepared to offload as many as six of the team who helped to secure the Premier League title last season with the club’s hierarchy losing patience with Manuel Pellegrini’s underperforming squad.
While Pellegrini’s fate as manager will be decided when Khaldoon al Mubarak, the chairman, conducts an inquest in Abu Dhabi at the end of the campaign, the likes of Yaya Touré, Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko, Gaël Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov and Stevan Jovetic could all be sold this summer after falling short of expectations this season.
With Frank Lampard committed to leaving the Etihad Stadium in July to begin his career with Abu Dhabi’s Major League Soccer franchise, New York City FC, and James Milner expected to leave on a free transfer, most likely to Liverpool, the summer rebuilding work will be wholesale.
But although Pellegrini’s grip on his position becomes weaker with every defeat –the 4-2 loss against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday was City’s eighth defeat this year – senior figures at the club believe that the Chilean has been let down by some high‑profile players.
While that may ultimately be judged as a failing of the manager’s motivational skills, there is now a determination at City to clear out the club’s failing big earners and recruit younger and hungrier replacements.
Efforts are being made to reduce the average age of the City squad, with Wolfsburg’s Kevin De Bruyne (23), Juventus’s Paul Pogba (22), Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling (20) and Everton’s Ross Barkley (21) all summer targets.
A failure to qualify for the Champions League would prove a stern blow to City’s hopes of attracting their top targets and also mean the club miss out on prize-money of approximately £50 million.