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What next for Man City after winning fourth Premier League title in five years?

Manchester City v Aston Villa – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Manchester City are celebrating their fourth Premier League title in five seasons.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the club will hope to stay ahead of the pack.

Will City start next season as favourites?

City have not had too much trouble scoring goals without a specialist centre forward

City have not had too much trouble scoring goals without a specialist centre forward (Mike Egerton/PA)

Undoubtedly so. City may have been taken to the wire this season by Liverpool but, while the Merseysiders will hope to regroup and challenge again, they already seem well ahead of the rest of the competition. City failed to land their top transfer target in Harry Kane last summer but still went on to clock up 93 points and score 99 goals. Having already announced the signing of Erling Haaland for next season, there will be an expectation they can better those figures.

How will Haaland improve the team?

City's attack will be bolstered by Erling Haaland next season

City’s attack will be bolstered by Erling Haaland next season (David Inderlied/PA)

The prolific Norway forward is one of the hottest properties in the game and will be expected to bring plenty of goals. City have effectively played without a specialist centre-forward for two seasons now, with Sergio Aguero’s final campaign in 2020-21 being marred by injuries before he left the club without being replaced last summer. They won two titles in that time and with an out-and-out striker in the team they should be even more potent.

Do they need to strengthen anywhere else?

Fernandinho has played his final game for City

Fernandinho has played his final game for City (Carl Recine/PA)

Manager Pep Guardiola likes to run a tight squad but, with Fernandinho leaving, there could be room for another addition. In terms of areas to bolster, another full-back would be welcomed. Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo have excelled but they have had no specialist cover. Another forward is also due to arrive in Argentina’s Julian Alvarez from River Plate.

Who else could leave?

Raheem Sterling's future is often the subject of speculation

Raheem Sterling’s future is often the subject of speculation (Bradley Collyer/PA)

It remains to be seen but there has been speculation about the futures of a number of players including Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling. It seems unlikely Sunday’s two-goal super sub Gundogan will move, with reports he could do so apparently fuelled by people jumping to the wrong conclusions about a recent trip abroad. It was claimed he was discussing a move elsewhere, when he was actually travelling to Denmark to get married. Guardiola has since stated his hope the German stays. Jesus and Sterling also remain Guardiola favourites but much may depend on how they see their futures in a star-studded squad about to be bolstered by Haaland and Alvarez.

What about Guardiola himself?

Guardiola has one year remaining on his contract

Guardiola has one year remaining on his contract (Martin Rickett/PA)

City’s inspirational manager has just one year left on his contract and speculation about his future will persist until he agrees to a new one. Yet while this may worry some fans – particularly as he continues to be linked with other jobs, the Brazil national team being one recent example – the club are not concerned. Guardiola prefers to deal in short-term contracts and has stressed repeatedly he is perfectly happy. His last two contract extensions were signed in the final year and that may well happen again.

Will the Premier League or Champions League be top priority?

The Champions League trophy has eluded Guardiola so far at City

The Champions League trophy has eluded Guardiola so far at City (Adam Davy/PA)

Guardiola would love to guide City to European glory and there is little doubt this is a prize the club are now desperate to win. He has shown time after time, however, that he will not compromise the Premier League to achieve it. He maintains the domestic title is the most important. That thinking may change if City happen to be out of contention for some reason come next spring, but it seems unlikely he would focus on the Champions League at the expense of the Premier League.

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