Pep Guardiola has begun his overhaul of the Manchester City squad by confirming the release of five senior players who come to the end of their contracts in the summer.
They were all veterans of City's recent success, but their departures herald a new era with a host of fresh faces set to arrive at the Etihad. Here are five players that could be potential replacements for those leaving the club. ...
The Argentinian full-back will be the hardest of the players released to replace because of the passion, belief and energy he gave to the City dressing room. Zabaleta has seen triumph and disappointment during his nine years at the Etihad and understands exactly how the club works. Guardiola would have loved to have had him at his peak, but after close to a decade of giving everything to the team, age and injuries caught up on Zabaleta and he wasn't able to have the same impact as he did during City's two Premier League title triumphs. Guardiola needs speed, work rate and quality from his full-backs, which is why Tottenham's Kyle Walker could fit the bill perfectly. And the City boss has spoken of his desire to bring in English players to build team spirit, which would go some way to compensating for the huge loss of Zabaleta off the pitch.
Possible replacement: Kyle Walker
Guardiola has a similar issue on the left side of defence, where he wants pace and stamina to supplement the attack as well as getting back quickly to defend. Clichy was able to do that, and played regularly last season, but he was short of the quality needed in the final third of the pitch. The Frenchman contributed two goals and no assists from 39 matches in all competitions, and Guardiola wants his full-backs to make a bigger contribution to the attack. Monaco's Benjamin Mendy is a potential target, and though he scored just once last season, he made 11 assists -- including setting up Fabinho in their 3-1 victory against City in the Champions League. At 22, Mendy would appear to be the perfect fit and age to develop into the Guardiola's ideal full-back.
Possible replacement: Benjamin Mendy
Though Guardiola wants his full-backs to play high up the pitch, he also demands that his attackers press high and help out with their duties at winning the ball back as quickly as possible. Navas certainly had the speed and sharpness, although his most impressive performances last season came as a wing-back. But again, it was quality in attack that was not up to what was required for a club wanting to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League. Navas failed to score in his last 103 Premier League appearances for the club, and scored just eight in all competitions during his four years there. With Guardiola set to spend heavily overhauling his squad in the summer, he could be tempted to give one of his younger players an opportunity to stake their claim in the first team. England under-20 winger Patrick Roberts has impressed during an 18-month loan spell at Celtic -- scoring 11 goals and making 19 assists this season -- and could be given a chance to prove himself at the Etihad.
Possible replacement: Patrick Roberts
Sagna was possibly too defensive for Guardiola's tactical revolution, which is why he finds himself surplus to requirements at the Etihad. But the Catalan coach was still prepared to use him as an option, particularly if it looked like the game was going to develop into a scrap. With so many full-backs leaving the club, this could be another position where an Academy player is given an opportunity. Young Spanish defender Pablo Maffeo is at the head of the queue. He has already appeared for the first team under Guardiola, and performed well in a League Cup defeat to Manchester United when he kept Marcus Rashford relatively quiet. The 21-year-old spent the second half of the season on loan at La Liga 2 side Girona, where he helped them to a second-place finish.
Possible replacement: Pablo Maffeo
The 35-year-old was first choice at City for periods last season and, though he never the let team down, he isn't quite in the bracket of the world's best goalkeepers such as Manuel Neuer, David De Gea or Gianluigi Buffon. Though there is hope that Claudio Bravo will improve on his disappointing debut campaign, City are looking to bring a keeper that will challenge him for a No. 1 spot. Kasper Schmeichel has all the attributes that Guardiola is looking for -- a good shot-stopper, excellent with the ball at his feet, a strong communicator to his defence and is a proven winner as shown by his fantastic performances in Leicester City's unforgettable title-winning season.
Possible replacement: Kasper Schmeichel