Pep Guardiola's second season at Manchester City must be a success or there might not be a third. The former Barcelona manager is well aware of this fact and has thus broken the bank in order to correct the shortcomings of his squad.
City have spent almost £150m on the current transfer window and only one of his five signings to date has not been to strengthen his back-line.
Bernardo Silva has joined from Monaco to add more creativity to Guardiola's already talented attack but the signings of Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, Danilo and goalkeeper Ederson Moraes indicates that the Spanish boss also cares about the back-line.
The five new City signings not only are an upgrade on the likes of Claudio Brazo, Pablo Zabaleta and Gaël Clichy but also give Guardiola the possibility of tinkering with several formations as he has shown on the way to beating Real Madrid and Tottenham in pre-season.
Guardiola is however still missing a world class centre-back to complete his work. Beating Liverpool and Chelsea for the signing of £60m-rated Virgil van Dijk would cement his side's status not only as clear favourites for the Premier League title but also to a serious contender for the Champions League.
Premier League: 3rd
FA Cup: semi-finals
EFL Cup: Fourth round
Champions League: Round of 16
Manager – Pep Guardiola
The former Barcelona boss arrived at the Eithad Stadium after gained a big reputation at the Nou Camp and Bayern Munich due to his offensive tiki-taka style. However, the Catalan has spent enough time in the English football to know that a good defence will also be key if he want to win the title.
Antonio Conte proved it last season at Chelsea with his pragmatic 3-5-2 formation and it looks like Guardiola has learnt the lesson ahead of his second season in Manchester.
Key player – Vincent Kompany
Guardiola has spent almost £150m on new signings but surprisingly he is yet to bolster the heart of his back-line. Unless he splash the cash before August 31 much of City's success will depend as much in Gabriel Jesus' goals as on keeping captain Kompany fit.
The Belgian, who was only able to play 15 games during last season, is still City's best centre-back and his leadership will be vital to ensuring John Stones' form does not collapse again.
Winning the Premier League should almost be mandatory for Guardiola in his second season at the Etihad Stadium. A squad with Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, David Silva or Bernardo Silva can only aspire to the top.
IBT prediction – 1st
Guardiola may still lack a world class centre-half to make his side genuine Champions League contenders. Yet, with Manchester United and Chelsea far from perfect either and the current City squad possessing new realms of depth, they should saunter to the title.