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Decision throws almighty spanner in grand plans

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At a time when the City squad requires a rebuild and Guardiola is targeting as many as five new signings this summer, UEFA’s decision threatens to throw an almighty spanner in the works. Photo: Reuters/Phil Noble/File Photo

At a time when the City squad requires a rebuild and Guardiola is targeting as many as five new signings this summer, UEFA’s decision threatens to throw an almighty spanner in the works. Photo: Reuters/Phil Noble/File Photo

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At a time when the City squad requires a rebuild and Guardiola is targeting as many as five new signings this summer, UEFA’s decision threatens to throw an almighty spanner in the works. Photo: Reuters/Phil Noble/File Photo

David Silva may not have picked a bad time to be leaving Manchester City after all.

This was always going to be the Spaniard's final City campaign after a decade at the Etihad Stadium but, as the bombshell news of Uefa's decision to ban the club from the Champions League for the next two seasons circulated last night, it seemed fair to wonder how many more will be carefully considering their futures in the weeks ahead.

Of course, that ban will effectively be put on hold once City appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and given the fury dripping from every line of their 168-word statement, that particular submission is likely to come quicker than Kevin De Bruyne sees a pass.

Yet, that will not stop the questions from building and, if Pep Guardiola, for one, thought he had been forced to field an inordinate number of questions about his future in recent times, the City manager might want to steel himself for what is to follow.

Up until this point, Guardiola, short of being sacked, had been adamant he would see out his contract at City, which runs until the end of next season, despite the apparent presence of a break clause that would allow him to walk away this summer.

But the prospect of no Champions League football at City for the next two seasons would change everything and, already, the noises from the Catalan's camp are that the manager will evaluate his position at the end of the season or once there is clarity from CAS.

That, in itself, is a shift in stance. It does not mean Guardiola will depart - CAS may yet throw out Uefa's case - but the idea of him moving to Juventus in the not-so-distant future is unlikely to be so readily dismissed now. Still, would it not be ironic if Guardiola and City now went and won the Champions League this season, the very competition Uefa wants to eject them front? So many things seem to be going wrong for City this season that their supporters are unlikely to be getting carried away by the thought.

Trailing Liverpool by 22 points in the title race is suddenly the least of their worries. After back-to-back title wins and an unprecedented domestic treble last term, the City juggernaut has run into trouble and the problems could get a lot worse.

With Mauricio Pochettino available following his sacking by Tottenham last year, perhaps replacing Guardiola would not be so problematic, but would City hold quite the same appeal to the Argentine without Champions League football? Perhaps he would prefer Manchester United.

Rebuild Moreover, at a time when the City squad requires a rebuild and Guardiola is targeting as many as five new signings this summer, Uefa's decision threatens to throw an almighty spanner in the works. Not only would attracting the best players become doubly difficult, retaining key assets could also be an issue.

Top players want to compete for the biggest trophies. Raheem Sterling's representatives began preliminary talks over a new contract last November, but the England forward is unlikely to be in a rush to commit his future to City now. Real Madrid will be watching with interest.

Leroy Sane already had his sights on the exit door and the latest news is only likely to intensify his desire to join Bayern Munich this summer.

There is unlikely to be much sympathy from City's main Premier League rivals either, not when a Champions League ban would, under Uefa rules, effectively offer a route into Europe's premier club competition for the side who finish fifth in England's top flight this term. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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