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Pep to leave? Star names to follow? What City's historic punishment means

Pep to leave? Star names to follow? What City's historic punishment means

14/02/2020 at 19:09Updated 14/02/2020 at 22:17

Will Manchester City's Champions League ban be the catalyst for Pep Guardiola to end his tenure at the Etihad Stadium?

Will Manchester City's Champions League ban be the catalyst for Pep Guardiola to end his tenure at the Etihad Stadium?

On the (far from guaranteed) proviso that City do not overturn this ban on appeal, the repercussions of the two-year exile are potentially enormous.

Will they be able to attract the top players needed to compete with Jurgen Klopp's juggernaut of a Liverpool side? Will players seek to leave to win the biggest trophy in European competition?

By far the biggest uncertainty surrounds their manager though.

Pep off to Turin?

Pep's glorious spell at Barcelona lasted four years, at Bayern Munich he spent just three seasons where he won all but the Champions League.

He is coming to the end of his fourth season at City which already led to speculation he could be on his way in the summer. Now, with two record-breaking title wins behind him but no Champions League, yet, will he be tempted by the lure of the Juventus job?

You would not totally rule out Barcelona, given the uncertainty of their current leadership, also making a pitch for Guardiola and despite the extra stress he felt leading his home side, the chance to link up with Messi once more may prove attractive. Whatever the case, it only makes the upcoming last 16 clash with Real Madrid in the Champions League that much more exciting.

Who could follow him out? Who will they miss out on?

Raheem Sterling of Manchester City reacts during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Manchester City at Bramall Lane on January 21, 2020 in Sheffield, United Kingdom

Raheem Sterling of Manchester City reacts during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Manchester City at Bramall Lane on January 21, 2020 in Sheffield, United KingdomGetty Images

An even bigger nightmare scenario for City fans would be the possibility of Raheem Sterling or Kevin De Bruyne, especially if Guardiola leaves, wanting to play their football elsewhere.

Sterling has no shortage of suitors among the giants in European football and any team in the world would want the Belgian, who has this shown again this season he is world football's supreme goal creator. Neither player could surely stomach two seasons out of the Champions League.

As for signings this could scupper, City have the right to match any bid made on Jadon Sancho but would the English winger want to return to the blue half of Manchester without the prospect of playing at the top level in club football where he has starred for the last two seasons?

With City's defence unimpressive this season, they have been linked with the likes of Pau Torres of Villareal and Ruben Dias of Benfica, but again though they will be able to earn as much at the Etihad as anywhere else, the ban will be used as a bargaining chip by other sides.

Blades in the big time?

As things stand, Sheffield United would receive maximum reward for their incredible season under Chris Wilder as they currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League.

Although Chelsea are far from secure in fourth, the extra berth will boost the chances of the Blades or Wolves getting a chance they wouldn't have thought possible at the start of the season.

Even more galling for City fans will be if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can steer United to fifth and they take the spot earned on the field by their noisy neighbours.