Manchester City need a new captain as Vincent Kompany brings to a close 11 memorable years with the club.
There is no shortage of internal candidates given the number of players who have worn the armband during the defender’s recent injury woes, but finding one whose credentials stand out above all the others is not so easy.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at who might get a new spot in the training ground car park next season.
The old guard
Two players stand out among Pep Guardiola’s existing dressing room leadership group – David Silva and Fernandinho. Silva is elevated to the status of City’s longest-serving player following Kompany’s departure and, as the vice-captain, could be a natural fit to become skipper as he goes into his 10th season at the Etihad.
Fernandinho was so often the man to get the armband when Kompany was sidelined with injury and would have another strong claim. The problem both men face is that time is against them.
Silva is 33 and Fernandinho 34, with both seeing their playing time wane this season and likely to fall further again next time around.
The other names in that leadership unit – Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero – have a little more time on their side, particularly the 27-year-old De Bruyne.
Could it be one Belgian for another? The playmaker has had a season ravaged by injury this year but assuming he can stay fit next campaign would surely be one of the first names of Guardiola’s teamsheet and a popular choice both with fans and team-mates alike.
An online poll by the Manchester Evening News found that De Bruyne would be the first choice of 48 per cent of fans.
Next in line
Raheem Sterling, who continues to impress on and off the field, finished the 7-0 Champions League win over Schalke with the armband after Silva was substituted, while centre-back John Stones would be another candidate assuming he can re-establish himself as a regular with Kompany gone.
The outgoing skipper has himself pointed to Bernardo Silva as future captaincy material if he can find the right balance between his emerging role as a leader and his status as one of the dressing-room jokers.
City are expected to look to the transfer market for new centre-halves with Kompany gone and Nicolas Otamendi linked with a move away. City would face a fight to land Matthijs De Ligt but should they get him, they would have a player who has captained Ajax to the Eredivisie title and the Champions League semi-finals at the age of 19.
Leicester’s Harry Maguire, another player to be linked, has been tipped as a future England captain.
After winning the domestic treble, Manchester City appear ready to hand boss Pep Guardiola a bumper deal to keep him at the club for at least the next five years. According to the Sun, the 48-year-old – who still has two years remaining on his current contract – could see his annual salary rise from £15million to £20million.
Sticking with Manchester City and Ilkay Gundogan looks set to commit his future to the club, the Mail reports. The midfielder is reportedly hoping to re-open negotiations to extend his time at the Etihad Stadium beyond 2020.
Meanwhile, with Vincent Kompany’s departure confirmed, City are turning their attention to Harry Maguire, the Mail says. It is reported the Leicester and England defender is Guardiola’s top pick to replace his former captain, but the Foxes are likely to be reluctant to sell.
Alexis Sanchez’s tumultuous time at Manchester United could be coming to an end sooner rather than later, The Sun reports. It is thought the 30-year-old will return to pre-season training early to overcome a disappointing campaign plagued by injury and make a head-start for next term, with the Chilean thought to be targeting a move overseas.
Players to watch
Yannick Carrasco: Arsenal have been given a boost in their bid to sign the Belgian midfielder, who plays for Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League, after the 25-year-old hinted he is eyeing a return to Europe, The Sun says.
William Saliba: Manchester United and Arsenal have the 18-year-old St Etienne defender in their sights, Goal reports, as both sides look to strengthen their options.
Signings will be made to freshen up the group and he accepts some players may wish to move on.
He said: “Some movements we have to do for the next season, yes, because people want to leave, players want to play.
“They accept not playing for a period but when the period is long it’s normal that they want to play more. I can’t assure that to anyone so I understand completely.”
He said: “Leroy, we are one and a half years trying to sign his (new) contract. We want him. It’s like Gundogan – it’s the same case.”
Check out the video above to hear more from the Catalan boss