Man City squad for Premier League 2022: player profiles - Haaland, De Bruyne, Grealish, Foden…
The Sky Blues had a great season last year but they are even stronger after this summer.
Manchester City have won the Premier League two years in a row, and somehow this coming season they have the best squad yet. Haaland will show whether or not this team can reach another level, Guardiola will make them competitive every game, and they will fight for the championship until the very end. Unless they win it with a few games to spare.
The full time starter, Ederson was the answer for City’s goals after years of experiments that saw veterans such as Claudio Bravo or even Willy Caballero have prolonged stays defending their net. Ederson is not a promise anymore - there’s not a lot left to know about him at 28. He will be a top-8, perhaps top-5, goalkeeper in the league every year, and help City achieve its objectives even if he makes some head-scratching mistakes sometimes.
A new signing from Bundesliga club Arminio Belifield, Ortega was a market opportunity as he was a free agent and City didn’t have to pay a fee for him. He is insurance for Ederson.
The third goalkeeper this year, a veteran (36) who will have more of a role off the field than on it.
Dias has been the pivotal point of the defense since he arrived from Benfica in the 2020 summer transfer window. The Portuguese center-back is the leader of City’s defense and different from any other player that Guardiola has had during his tenure. The club spent money on Laporte and Stones, but they needed a player who was both talented with the ball (as they are, or were supposed to be) and a physical leader who knows how to impose himself against strong number nines. At 25, Diaz is all that, and more, even if his performance against Benzema was not as stellar as his manager would have wanted.
He is set up to be the third center-back this season behind Dias and Laporte, maybe even Aké as well, but he will have his chances again this year as he tries to show that last season’s improvements in both defense and his on-ball play are here to stay.
The multipositional defender who allows Guardiola to only have six players for four positions, Aké can play in every one. He is not a star in any of them, and may be challenged against top opposition both in the Premier League and European competition, but he is a very valuable piece to have around for a 38-game championship.
The recent Spanish citizen is injured to start the season, but after a couple of years in which he did not have the easiest of times getting used to the Premier League coming from Athletic de Bilbao, he is the player who City paid for. He’s the prototype of a Guardiola defensive signing: expensive, good with the ball, not the greatest player in the position in the league but a very good one that can play for a big team at ease.
Walker is going to be starting a lot of games if he stays healthy, but he will have to share his most typical position with Cancelo at right-back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is a superstar as a wing-back for Liverpool, but he may not even be the best player at his position in the Premier League. Cancelo wears number 7 and he plays as one. His field vision and speed allow City to spread defenses out and he has great touch both for shots and crosses.
The Portuguese creator has been toying with leaving City for years now. He has established himself as a starter and is a key piece in Guardiola’s schemes, but the club keeps adding midfielders around him while he thinks about going somewhere with better weather and closer to his home - perhaps Barcelona? No one knows what will happen before the market closes, but he is a very talented player who can make magical passes whether he is under the rain in Manchester or in sunny Barcelona.
The ex-Leeds player is a terrific addition to an already stacked midfield. The 26-year-old Englishman has the defensive skills and speed that no other player in the squad shares. He can be both a starter next to more creative players in the place of Rodrigo or next to him when City does not need as much offensive potential as Silva or Grealish can give them.
The German player is probably past his prime at this point, and his minutes diminished last season after a couple of stellar scoring seasons, but Gundogan is not yet done. At 31, his role will most likely be coming off the bench to give a spark to his team when it’s needed, but when your club can have a player like him as the 14th option, you know that you are in a good place to fight for everything during a long season full of games, which even has a World Cup in the middle.
The Spaniard draws comparisons to Busquets and the way in which Guardiola used the defensive midfielder over a decade ago in Barcelona, but it is only recently that Rodrigo has started fullfilling those comments with his play. He is the anchor of this team as his distribution skills connect the defense and the offense, and he has improved his transition game. He is no longer a weakness when running toward his own goal and he can also add a bit of offense when he has the chance.
Haaland was asked about the pressure he feels having been such an important signing for City, and he just signaled towards Grealish and said, “I only cost $60M, he cost over a hundred, go ask him”. Not something easy to hear, as Grealish was a big bet by Manchester’s management, one that has not paid back yet. He is English, which explains both the bloated up transfer fee that was paid to Aston Villa for him and the enormous pressure he is under to perform. City fans hope that Grealish’s best games are still ahead of him, and he still has time to prove that he belongs.
Kevin De Bruyne
The biggest star in a team full of them, the Belgian midfielder played brilliantly last year, once again. Injuries slowed him down a bit during the winter, but he still scored 15 goals in the PL. He’s one of the reasons that City have such a defined playing style, a style that can only thrive when De Bruyne is on the pitch.
The young English forward-midfielder stepped up his game last season, showing his class in the semifinals against Real Madrid. With Raheem Sterling leaving the club on a transfer to Chelsea, the left-footed Foden is poised to be a crucial player this season for City, showing that he is ready to take Sterling’s place in City and, perhaps, with England as well.
The young promising player that every great team finds in its academy, Palmer is the stereotype of a talented player who still has to find his footing and consistency if he wants playing time and progress in City without having to leave on loan. He only played in four games during last year’s Premier League, but he might be ready for more if injuries do not become a problem this season.
The biggest signing this summer, and somehow the Norwegian forward did not even have that high of a transfer fee from City to Borussia Dortmund. There are reports about weird clauses in his contract, and his agents must have gotten a nice chunk of change for the signing, but none of that matters once you realize that, at long last, Manchester City have a no. 9. Haaland was the top available name in the market, but City secured him easily thanks to Madrid’s obsession with Mbappé and the Norwegian’s connection to the club (his father played with the Sky Blues in the nineties). His playing style, from which spaces he usually occupies to how he moves away from the ball are nothing like Guardiola’s City have ever played with, but talent will prevail and both Haaland and Pep will find the way to make it work. Haaland will dominate, and City will be both different and better for it.
A signing from Argentina, he’s not a full-time center-forward, but City do not need that anymore with Haaland. The 22-year-old will have time to develop and acclimate to Europe and its playing style, but Gabriel Jesús’ departure may open some playing time for him straight up. Fans all over Latin America have their sights set on the ex-River Plate player as he must show that City’s $25 million fee was a good investment.
The ex-Leicester player is one of the best attackers in the league. His dribbling ability has not diminished yet and he can dominate both against defenders from smaller PL clubs and UCL titans, so his role in the team is assured.
Manager: Pep Guardiola
One of the best players in the Premier League, the Catalonian was a star as a player with Barça, but he has become an even bigger icon as a coach. The battles he had with Mourinho in Spain now show themselves in the form of a rivalry with Klopp in England. Guardiola will stay in Manchester for as long as he wants, and it seems like more trophies will come while he’s there.
The Citizens are the favorites to win the Premier League once again, and it seems like only Liverpool will be able to challenge them and make it difficult for Guardiola and his boys to go back-to-back-to-back.