Manchester City: Who will join the wealthy Citizens this summer?
Last updated on .From the section Man City
With £20bn in the bank and a continent to conquer, club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has made it clear Manchester City will be spending big this summer.
They have already started the ball rolling with a £25m bid for England and Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling.
That offer has been rejected, but Al Mubarak is upbeat about City's chances of landing the world's top players, insisting the Blues are now "a club players want to come and play for".
Here, BBC Sport wonders how a summer of wheeling and dealing could pan out for the 2013/14 Premier League champions.
So will City be signing Messi or Ronaldo?
In a word; no. City can certainly afford to recruit Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo but, despite Al Mubarak's assertion that the club are now more than their money, they remain less of a draw than Real Madrid and Barcelona, the current home of world football's two biggest stars.
They are also unlikely to be able to prise any other prize assets away from European football's power duo, which also puts the likes of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Sergio Ramos out of reach.
City would be an attractive destination for any top talent Real or Barca deemed surplus to requirements, as they were when Robinho left the Bernabeu in a then record-breaking move in 2008.
This is why they have been linked with Gareth Bale, who endured a tough time in Spain last season, and Karim Benzema, with reports suggesting new Real boss Rafa Benitez will only use the French forward as a rotation option.
However, Manchester United are also reportedly in the market for Bale and may have the upper hand as they can use goalkeeper David De Gea as a bargaining chip, while Benzema is apparently not short of admirers, with Arsenal joining United on that list.
BBC Sport's Simon Stone says: "Some players are unattainable for every team. City must challenge in the Champions League to lure the very best to Manchester."
So who are the more likely signings?
Sterling for one, although Liverpool have already turned down one £25m offer for the 20-year-old.
The winger has made no secret of his desire to leave Anfield and, with his self-proclaimed motivation being winning trophies as opposed to earning money, he would find a fitting home at the vision of City that Al Mubarak is selling. A reported wage of £200,000-a-week won't hurt, of course.
The quick, skilful England international also satisfies City's need for pace and penetration from out wide, where Jesus Navas has been found wanting, and, at 20, their need to refresh an ageing squad with young blood.
Another player who fits this mould is 23-year-old former Chelsea midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, who scored 16 goals in the Bundesliga last season for Wolfsburg and is reportedly on City's radar, prompting the German club to slap a £40m price tag on the Belgium international.
One move that would trump both these would be the recruitment of Paul Pogba, not only because he is one of the most sought-after midfielders in the world having helped Juventus reach the Champions League final, but also because he represents "the one that got away" from rivals United, who he left to move to Italy in 2012.
It's not just established players in some of Europe's biggest teams that City are targeting. According to reports, they were keen on adding Aston Villa's teenage midfielder Jack Grealish to their academy ranks a few years ago.
The 19-year-old's breakthrough into Aston Villa's first team has apparently revived their interest in the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international.
Simon Stone says: "An on-form Sterling would be a major asset and provide the raw pace City have lacked. Pogba's arrival is far less likely."
Is City a good home for young British talent?
Grealish to City? Let's face it, their record of signing young British talent is patchy at best.
Winger Scott Sinclair was 23 when he joined from Swansea City in August 2012 on a deal worth £8m, lured by the promise of high wages and Champions League action. He made just two Premier League starts before leaving for Aston Villa earlier this month.
Midfielder Jack Rodwell was 21 when he signed from Everton for £12m in 2012 but made just seven top-fight starts in two years before joining Sunderland, while older British players Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and James Milner have also left.
After being handed a £49m net spending cap last season, City will not face spending restrictions this summer after meeting the requirements of Financial Fair Play [FFP].
And a move for young British talent like Everton defender John Stones and his Goodison midfield team-mate Ross Barkley is not out of the question.
But how much will they be able to spend?
Some of Thursday's newspapers have spoken of Manuel Pellegrini possessing a "blank cheque", which will come in useful if City are to sign Sterling, Pogba and De Bruyne, who would likely command a combined fee not far off £150m.
|Manchester City highest transfer fees paid|
|Sergio Aguero||Atletico Madrid||£38m||2011|
A £49m fine [£32m of which was suspended] for breaching FFP rules restricted City's spending power last summer, although they were still able to splash out approximately £80m to bring in defender Eliaquim Mangala, midfielder Fernando, goalkeeper Willy Caballero and striker Wilfried Bony last season.
But with Uefa signalling its intention to relax the rules, Sheik Mansour is expected to sanction a big outlay on playing talent during the upcoming transfer window, and it would be no surprise to see them break the club record £38m fee they paid Atletico Madrid to sign Sergio Aguero in July 2011.
Simon Stone says: "There is no longer a premium to be paid by the Blues for attracting top players. But they still cost. And City have the cash."
So who's on the way out?
Al Mubarak admitted as much when he said: "Some players who have served us well, maybe it is time for them to move on to the next challenges."
Despite last season's underachievement, with players such as Sergio Aguiero, David Silva and Joe Hart, City's squad is a talented and experienced one, but with an average age of nearly 29, it is clearly in need of young blood.
James Milner has already left for Liverpool,Scott Sinclair has joined Aston Villa, fellow midfielder Frank Lampard has departed to finally begin his American adventure, and defender Micah Richards has been released. They will not be the last to go.
Expensive recruits such as defender Aleksandar Kolarov, midfielder Samir Nasri and strikers Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko could well follow, although Yaya Toure is likely to stay for at least another season.
These players will depart for considerably less than they cost, but balancing the books is clearly not on City's agenda as they look to reach the "next level".
Simon Stone says: "If Toure did leave, the void would need filling. The rest are fringe players, whose departure might encourage City to look to youth."