How Manchester City could line up with Mateo Kovacic, Declan Rice, Josko Gvardiol

Shortly after their historic Premier League victory, Manchester City, who achieved the FA Cup and Champions League treble, are already planning to make changes to their first-team squad for the upcoming 2023–24 season. Club captain Ilkay Gundogan is set to leave the club and join Barcelona on a free transfer when his contract expires. Additionally, Bernardo Silva is eager to explore new opportunities.

However, Manchester City has secured the signing of Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea for an initial fee of £25 million plus £5 million in add-ons. They have also intensified their interest in Declan Rice from West Ham United. While competition from Arsenal remains, City is close to reaching an agreement with West Ham for Rice's transfer.

Furthermore, Manchester City is hoping to finalize a deal for Josko Gvardiol, a Croatian defender from RB Leipzig. Negotiations over personal terms have reportedly made positive progress. The city may need to pay a substantial fee to acquire the 21-year-old, who is seen as a potential replacement for Aymeric Laporte.

Looking ahead to the 2023–24 season, Manchester City is expected to maintain their successful 3-2-4-1 formation. With possession, they will have three central defenders, two midfield pivots, four attacking midfielders, and a lone striker. When not in possession, one of the pivots can drop back to form a back four.

If City manages to sign Gvardiol, he would likely play on the left side of the back three, competing with Nathan Ake. Ruben Dias, a strong candidate to replace Gundogan as captain, is expected to continue anchoring the defense. Kyle Walker, Manuel Akanji, John Stones, and Rico Lewis are all options for the right side of the defense.

Stones had a standout season in a hybrid midfield role alongside Rodri, providing a strong platform for City's game control. In the upcoming season, Stones may also drop back into defense, allowing Rice to partner with Rodri. Kalvin Phillips, Lewis, and Kovacic could also be utilized as pivots.

Rice, initially a center-back, has developed into a versatile midfielder who can make an impact in both boxes. If he joins City, he would most likely play as a deep-lying midfielder but could also fill a similar role to Gundogan, operating alongside Kevin De Bruyne. Phil Foden or Kovacic could also be alternatives for that role.

Foden, who has predominantly played on the flanks, is expected to be integrated into a more central role by Guardiola next season. This could lead to Riyad Mahrez securing the right-wing position, especially if Bernardo Silva departs. Jack Grealish is likely to be a regular starter on the left wing.

The focal point of City's attack will be Erling Braut Haaland, who had an exceptional debut season with 52 goals. World Cup winner Julian Alvarez provides versatility across the front three or in an attacking midfield role, where he performed well alongside Haaland in De Bruyne's absence.

In summary, Manchester City is making changes to their squad ahead of the new season, with departures and new signings planned. They will continue with their successful formation and aim to strengthen their defense, midfield, and attacking options to maintain their dominance in English football.

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