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Man City’s failed Harry Kane swap proposal can provide unexpected title boost

Several City players were linked with exits during the summer transfer window – and the positives of them staying at the Etihad could outweigh the negative of missing out on Kane

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Man City winger Torres leaves Spain boss Enrique impressed

Manchester City will face the first serious test of their Premier League title defence this weekend when they travel to face Leicester City.

They will do without having signed the striker they so wanted this summer, and knowing Brendan Rodgers’ side have already got one over on them in the Community Shield.

But the side that Pep Guardiola sends out on Saturday will be very different to the one that failed to break down the Foxes’ compact formation at Wembley.

And it is likely to feature some of the stars who were reportedly on the table as potential part-exchange options in City’s pursuit of Harry Kane.

Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling were all linked with moves away during the summer transfer window.



Harry Kane showed what City were missing out on as he scored for England against both Andorra and Hungary
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Image:

NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)




At various times they were cited as either potential part-exchange options to sweeten the deal for Kane, or saleable assets who could have brought in funds for the pursuit of the Tottenham striker.

In the end, they all stayed – and that’s a huge positive for City that could outweigh the negative of missing out on Kane.

Jesus appeared perhaps the most vulnerable to being offload during the summer, having struggled to nail down a starting spot as a striker for City.

But he has enjoyed a new lease of life after being preferred on the right wing to Mahrez for 5-0 thrashings of Norwich and Arsenal.









Laporte has won back his place at the heart of City’s defence, having dropped down to third choice following John Stones’ excellent form last season.

And after remaining on the bench for the season-opening defeat to Spurs, the brilliant Bernardo returned to his regular midfield spot for the Norwich and Arsenal games.

Mahrez and Sterling both scored from the bench against Norwich, and had to make do with subs’ roles again against the Gunners.

Both will remain crucial players to Guardiola’s plans – especially if Sterling can replicate his England form, while Mahrez was one of City’s standout stars during their run to the Champions League final last term.

Can Ferran Torres fill the void left by Sergio Aguero’s departure? Have your say in the comments below



Bernardo Silva, pictured during the 5-0 thrashing of Arsenal, looks set to be a crucial player in City’s midfield again




But perhaps the player City fans were most worried about losing was Bernardo, amid widespread reports that he was no longer happy at the club.

After remaining on the bench for the season-opening defeat to Spurs, the Portuguese ace returned to his regular spot for the games against Norwich and Arsenal, with Guardiola going back to his most consistent midfield three from last season of Bernardo, Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan.

Bernardo may still fancy a move – and the challenge now facing Guardiola is to repeat the trick from a couple of years ago when Gundogan’s future was uncertain.

At the time, the German midfielder was said to have concerns over whether he would be a regular starter for City, amid tough competition from the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva.









But City convinced him to stay, and he has become one of the first names on the manager’s team sheet – having been arguably their best attacking player last season.

If Bernardo can be similarly convinced of his future as a key player at the club, he may be persuaded to stay for the remaining four years of his contract, and maybe beyond.

And if not, City have the likes of Cole Palmer and James McAtee coming through the ranks who could eventually inherit his midfield role.

So far, those players linked with potential summer exits have responded well to the speculation – and if that continues it will be a huge positive as City bid to defend their Premier League title and go one step further than their Champions League final defeat.



Ferran Torres was on scoring form against Arsenal
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AFP via Getty Images)




As for missing out on Kane, the failed pursuit of the England captain has opened up an opportunity which Ferran Torres has so far capitalised on.

The 21-year-old has shown the goalscoring knack and movement in the box that Guardiola needs from his main striker.

And depending on how well Torres fills the void this season, City will have a big decision to make next summer when Erling Haaland’s transfer clause is expected to ramp up the race for one of the world’s hottest prospects.




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