How Manchester City could line up in 2023-24 with the arrival of star Croatian pair

Pep Guardiola’s City continued their rampant dominance of the top flight of English football after steaming past a deflated Arsenal to secure their fifth title in six seasons, but further reinforcements will be needed if they are to remain the nations football hegemon

Though it was not always a guarantee across certain parts of the now-completed 2022-23 Premier League season, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ultimately came out on top once again en route to their fifth title in the past six seasons.

Reinforced by Norwegian star Erling Haaland, City’s dominance of the English football landscape remained supreme, with the former Borussia Dortmund starlet putting to bed any notion that players coming from the Bundesliga cannot hack the Premier League while on his way to making history after breaking the single-season goal record at the first chance of asking despite being only 22-years-old.

City is a behemoth, and there is no way around that reality. Many pundits and experts are likely to once again tip them to top the table after the conclusion of next season, but many will expect the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Newcastle United, and potentially reinvigorated Tottenham and Chelsea to make their lives as difficult as possible.

Moreover, it is hard to see how Guardiola and City’s backroom can improve on the current team, but for a club that has limitless resources, there is always quality to be had as their Spanish headmaster looks to continue to push the envelope on the tactics board. With that in mind, 101 Great Goals takes a crack at predicting how City will line-up in 2023-24.

GK: Ederson - One of the supreme shot-stoppers in England, whether or not you feel Ederson is the best goalkeeper in the world is largely inconsequential. For what City needs in a keeper, and how he goes about allowing the club to remain dominant, there are few - if any - better options. The Brazilian will remain the first choice option for some time yet.

RCB: Manuel Akanji - There were quite a few questions that came with the unexpected move for Swiss defender Manuel Akanji in the wake of his stock plummeting at Borussia Dortmund. But the Neftenbach native not only returned to former performance levels but exceeded them after settling at the club while hitting nearly 50 appearances across all competitions. He should keep his place and faith from his manager.

CB: Rúben Dias - One of an endless stream of talent that has left the hallowed halls of SL Benfica’s academy to go on and achieve big things on the biggest stages around Europe, Rúben Dias is untouchable at Manchester City, and rightfully so. Reliable, consistent, and almost always available, his influence in the heart of the defense is a chief reason why Guardiola has a chance at a historic treble.

LCB: Joško Gvardiol - One of two Croatian stars that could very easily find themselves on the blue half of Manchester come the beginning of the 2023-24 season, Joško Gvardiol’s stock continues to rise after his appearances for both RB Leipzig and Croatia in the past twelve months. Capable of being deployed both at center-back and left-back, that versatile is ideal for a Guardiola team.

RDM: John Stones - There was a time not too long ago when many questioned whether or not John Stones had a future with City given the level of defenders that were brought into the club. Now, the England international has made himself borderline indispensable for the club in his new role as a defensive midfielder alongside Rodri. That change proved critical for the club this past season.

LDM: Rodri - Arguably the best defensive midfielder in all of Europe, Spanish international star Rodri was as impressive as ever at the Etihad in 2022-23 and one of the key reasons why City secured a run of form that led to a fifth title in six seasons. Such is his prowess that it afforded Guardiola the chance to swap to a 3-2-4-1 that was at the heart of their run to another league win.

RW - Phil Foden - Many had questions perhaps why the face of City’s academy was not entrusted more this past season, but despite that, the England international came up in big moments. With the futures of both Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez uncertain, Foden should likely be expected to feature prominently under Guardiola moving forward.

RAM - Kevin De Bruyne - It may not have been a career season for Belgian star Kevin De Bruyne, but the effortlessness that the creative fulcrum can call upon in big moments to lift a star-studded City team cannot be understated. The best creative player in the world will undoubtedly remain the key craftsman once again next season.

LAM: Mateo Kovačić - The second Croatian star heavily linked with a potential move to the Etihad in the upcoming summer window, a move away from the disaster that has been Chelsea will likely help the midfielder recreate form at club level that he so often shows in service of his country. As the likely replacement of the out-going İlkay Gündoğan, Kovačić could be primed to shine.

LW: Jack Grealish - A frustrating first season for former Aston Villa poster-boy Jack Grealish was resoundingly put to bed in 2022-23 as the England international winger put in one fantastic performance after another. With his transfer fee now largely justified, expect the same or better from him next term.

CF: Erling Haaland - There’s hardly much to say surrounding Erling Haaland. To break the Premier League single-season goalscoring record in your first year in England, as a 22-year-old, is bordering on ridiculous. While it remains unclear how long he intends to stay at City, the club will no doubt ride the wave as hard as they can.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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