MX23RW : Thursday, October 18 05:52:12

Three areas that Manchester City could strengthen in the summer

Manchester City were confirmed as this season's Premier League champions at the weekend, but which areas of his squad could Pep Guardiola strengthen during the summer.

Since the turn of 2018, it has effectively been a foregone conclusion that Manchester City would win the Premier League title this season and on Sunday afternoon, that achievement was confirmed as West Bromwich Albion recorded a surprise 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. It left City with a 16-point advantage with five matches remaining but although the top-flight trophy has been wrapped up, City still want to achieve the nine points required to record the highest-ever points total in the Premier League - surpassing Chelsea's tally of 95 in 2004-05 - and there will be a desire to reach three figures. Pep Guardiola's attention will then turn to strengthening his squad in the summer and there will be areas which he will want to improve.

Punters like to use bookmakers which provide the best value for money and despite the funds at their disposal, that will be the case with City when it comes to signing players in the summer. The club are well-stocked for central defenders but speculation persists over another incoming in that area with Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti and Leicester City's Harry Maguire both in the mix. The two players fit the bill with Umtiti currently possessing a release clause of £52m and Maguire likely to be available for a fee in the region of £40m but any arrival may have to be offset by a departure. Nicolas Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte will not be considered and from an experience standpoint, Vincent Kompany is still vital to Guardiola. That leaves the possibility of John Stones being allowed to leave the Etihad Stadium for a similar price to what Umtiti or Maguire would cost and with the England international having becoming increasing out of favour in recent months, do not be surprised to see that transfer take place.

Samuel Umtiti in action for Barcelona on February 20, 2018© Offside

Providing that Benjamin Mendy is fit and firing ahead of the new campaign, City do not have to touch their full-back positions. Oleksandr Zinchenko can deputise for the Frenchman and Pablo Maffeo is ready to play the same role behind Kyle Walker having enjoyed an excellent campaign with Girona in La Liga. Danilo - should he wish to remain at the club - is also there to fill either position. It means that more funds can be allocated to bringing in a player to replace the outgoing Yaya Toure and it is required with 32-year-old Fernandinho being over-used this season. Shakhtar Donetsk's Fred appears to be the most likely arrival - a high-quality one at that - but City and Guardiola must have a backup option and that could come in the form of Sao Paulo's Eder Militao. The young Brazilian is only 20 years of age but as well as being capable of playing in front of the defence, he can also be used at right-back if Guardiola opts to give Maffeo a further loan spell elsewhere.

Isco in action for Real Madrid in October 2017© Offside

There is an argument that City do not necessarily require any new attacking arrivals but given that Guardiola was prepared to pay in the region of £60m to sign Riyad Mahrez during the January transfer window, the Spaniard will seemingly make one major addition in that area. The Foxes playmaker will again likely be on the agenda but with Real Madrid likely to make significant changes to their squad, do not rule out Isco being brought in. Guardiola has previously indicated that he wants to develop Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz but as it stands, the pair may be best suited to a loan period elsewhere while City attempt to improve their chances of challenging for the Champions League.

Guardiola suggested last summer that City would not make many high-profile additions ahead of next season and the North-West giants must also ensure that they meet FFP regulations. However, one major sale and the removal of Toure's astronomical wages will give Guardiola a bit more room for manoeuvre so expect to see new players at centre-back, defensive midfield and in the final third.

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Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the second during the Champions League group game between Manchester City and Napoli on October 17, 2017
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City86202131820
2Chelsea86201851320
3Liverpool86201531220
4Arsenal86021910918
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs8602157818
6Bournemouth85121612416
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves843196315
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd84131314-113
9Watford84131112-113
10Leicester CityLeicester84041412212
11Everton83321312112
12Burnley82241012-28
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8224913-48
14Crystal Palace821559-47
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham8215813-57
16Southampton8125614-85
17Fulham8125921-125
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield8035417-133
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8026613-72
20Cardiff CityCardiff8026417-132

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