Manchester City fans hoping for a summer spending spree may be disappointed, with two extra fewer spaces available in their Premier League squad set to limit their options ahead of the 2022/23 season.
City currently have one of the smallest squads in the Premier League, with only Arsenal, Leeds and Norwich registering fewer over-21 players in the latest updated squad lists.
The Blues have 19 players in their official squad, with clubs allowed a maximum of 25. Any player under 21, like Phil Foden or Cole Palmer, doesn’t have to be registered so doesn’t count towards the tally.
Of those 25 players, no more than 17 can be ‘non-homegrown’, meaning clubs wanting to fulfill the maximum squad size must have at least eight players who fit the homegrown criteria. That is to have been registered at an English or Welsh club for three years before turning 21, with City naming six such players.
In the current squad, there are 13 non-homegrown players, leaving four spaces for such players to arrive in the summer, or six including homegrown talents.
However, that wiggle room will be reduced further in the summer, with Phil Foden turning 22 in May and therefore not counting as an under-21 player any longer. His addition of him to the squad will take the homegrown places to seven and remaining spots to five.
Likewise, Julian Alvarez was added to the 2021/22 list this month as an under-21 player, despite spending the rest of the season back at River Plate, but he will likely be added in the full squad next season having recently turned 22. He won’t count as homegrown, so there would just be three non-homegrown places left after his addition.
One potential way to free up space could be to say farewell to captain Fernandinho, but City would likely seek a replacement if he doesn’t stay for another year. Romeo Lavia could be given more opportunities, and he will still count as an under-21, or current loanee Claudio Gomes might be an option – although he would have to be included in the full squad rather than as a youngster.
Scott Carson is currently in the main squad as a homegrown player, and is also out of contract at the end of the season. City could choose to let him leave, while promoting a homegrown or under-21 youngster as a third-choice goalkeeper. Alternatively, with multiple spaces free, he takes a useful role in the squad and doesn’t bring down the available number of homegrown options. For now, his place is not stopping anyone else from signing or playing.
Of course, City will be aware of the squad restrictions and will always factor that into their planning. And they will know that Foden and Alvarez must be added to the main list next season, so they will have prepared for that. Even then, they will have three non-homegrown spots or six homegrown spots available, so it’s hardly a disaster.
Looking forward, in two seasons, players like Tommy Doyle and Taylor Harwood-Bellis would have to be considered as over-age players if they are required back at City. A year later, the likes of Cole Palmer, James McAtee and others will have to be promoted. It’s a balancing act that will always be presenting new challenges each year and each transfer window, and one City regularly master.
For now, City know that if they want to target a big-name striker this summer, as well as maybe strengthening their left-back and defensive midfield positions, they have the space to bring those players in.
But with Foden and Alvarez’s expected additions, along with potential promotions for someone like Gomes, if they want to make any other squad signings on top of that, they could soon start to be limited by who they can and can’t register in their squad. .
Possible 25-man Man City Premier League squad next season: Ederson, Steffen, Carson*, Walker*, Dias, Stones*, Ake*, Zinchenko, Laporte, Cancelo, [New left-back]Gundogan, Grealish*, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Foden*, Gomes*, [New defensive midfielder]Jesus, Sterling*, Mahrez, Alvarez, [New striker].
* – Home-grown