PEP GUARDIOLA has some agonising decisions to make over his ‘legends’ this summer.
The Manchester City boss was full of praise for his squad after clinching a fourth Premier League title in five years on Sunday — calling them “eternal”.
Gabriel Jesus (left) and Raheem Sterling could leave Manchester City when the transfer window opensCredit: Reuters
City could cash in on Riyad Mahrez as he is about to enter the final year of his contractCredit: Getty
Ilkay Gundogan is also being tipped for a move but Pep Guardiola is keen to keep the GermanCredit: Getty
But there remains a question mark over whether a handful of the heroes will be there when their latest title defence kicks off in August.
And one of those whose future must be decided is Sunday’s two-goal saviour Ilkay Gundogan.
You might think a team who amassed 93 points and scored 99 goals in another outstanding campaign does not need much work doing to it.
But Pep has shown before he is not one for standing still and admiring the view from the summit.
He has also demonstrated before he is not afraid to make key decisions on club legends — just ask Sergio Aguero.
Guardiola already knows he has two prolific forwards arriving when his squad returns for pre-season training in July — and what a lift that will give them.
Erling Haaland’s signing has made all the headlines — but Argentina international Julian Alvarez will also arrive from River Plate and has the potential to be just as exciting.
And the big question is, who will make way for the new boys at the Etihad?
Three of the current forwards — Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez — will go into the final year of their City contracts next month.
Jesus is the most likely to go this summer, with Arsenal and Tottenham among a host of clubs chasing his signature.
Sterling’s situation remains unchanged after a mixed season — he wants to play regularly and often found himself left out of the key matches.
That means City may have their work cut out to persuade him to sign a new contract.
And if a sizeable offer comes in this summer it would leave City with a difficult decision to make as, at 27, he remains a valuable asset.
City have been careful in the past not to allow their star players to go into the last year of their contracts but that remains a real possibility with the England ace.
Mahrez is considerably older at 31 so a bumper new contract is less likely.
Paris Saint-Germain are regularly linked with a move for him and it would surely tempt City if a bid comes in.
Alvarez can play out wide or in the centre — while the highly-rated local youngster Cole Palmer, 20, will be looking for more first-team action next season.
Exciting youngster Julian Alvarez is set to team up with City this summerCredit: Getty
Erling Haaland is also set to arrive at the EtihadCredit: Reuters
There are key decisions to be made in midfield, too, with City waving goodbye to another of their stalwarts in Fernandinho.
Reports last week suggested Gundogan has been told he can go as he also has just a year remaining on his deal.
But Guardiola has indicated even before that remarkable last day that he would prefer his first signing to stay with him. At just over £20million, he has proved to be a bargain for City.
So allowing him to run down his contract and leave for nothing next summer would not be out of the question.
Much will depend on whether Guardiola can lure the new central midfielder he wants to the Etihad in the transfer window.
That might not be the only new arrival. As ever there looks to be a vacancy at full-back ahead of next season.
Benjamin Mendy’s court case over alleged sex offences is due to start in late July.
With a year left on his existing deal, it seems unthinkable that he will play for City again.
Pep has used Joao Cancelo, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Nathan Ake to fill the gap but none of them are specialists in the position.
Plans for next season are already under way.
Guardiola has talked in the past about how the best start thinking of the next trophy as soon as they are out of the shower. He wants to be sure this team continues to evolve.
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