City eye four signings to freshen up

Premier League champions Manchester City plan to add three or four new players in the summer to keep the first-team squad fresh after winning back-to-back titles. Pep Guardiola is already making plans to stop his squad from stagnating after winning two consecutive championships with record points totals and on the back of this season’s intense challenge from Liverpool.

A holding midfielder to offer competition to Fernandinho, 34, remains a top priority with a defender and forward also on City’s shopping list. Sources have told media that Rodri Hernandez is a target, and a preferred option to his fellow Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez. And 18-year-old midfielder Phil Foden is also set to play a bigger part of Guardiola’s plans after making a big impact in City’s title run-in by starting the final three Premier League games at the Etihad Stadium.

Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell had previously been a City target, but the development of Oleksandr Zinchenko has seen the need to strengthen in that position less of a priority, sources said. The club could complete a domestic treble on Saturday if they beat Watford in the FA Cup finalbut a first ever triumph in the Champions League will become a focus again next season.

However, reports this week claim that UEFA investigators will push for City to be given a Champions League ban for alleged breaches of its financial fair play regulations, after opening an investigation in March. According to the New York Times, investigators for the European governing body have decided to push for at least a one-season ban from the competition, after a meeting at its Swiss headquarters two weeks ago.

A final conclusion is unlikely to be reached before the start of the next Champions League so any ban would not be expected to come into force until the 2020-21 season. City have denied any financial irregularity and said they welcomed the UEFA investigation “as an opportunity to bring to an end the speculation resulting from the illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails.”

The club have already been punished for violating FFP, striking an agreement in 2014 that saw them fined rather than banned from the Champions League for inflated sponsorship deals with companies linked to the club or their ownership.