What are the chances that the Champions League ban can be lifted?
It depends who you ask!
Manchester City haven’t commented beyond their official statements and an interview Ferran Soriano gave to the club’s media straight-batting the accusations, but they insist that they will be exonerated and hope that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) can provide the independent review that they feel the UEFA investigation lacked.
There’s a possibility that City and UEFA could reach an agreement between themselves but that seems unlikely given the way events have unfolded and what has already been said.
More likely seems to be a hearing at some point – hopefully before the next Champions League to avoid further delay and uncertainty; it could affect City’s transfer plans this summer.
Speaking to people at CAS over the last two weeks, the appeal is not that far along and the hearing hasn’t yet been listed but there will be work ongoing on it while football on the pitch takes a pause.
City could take some confidence from the criticism aimed at UEFA by CAS in their recent hearing when the Blues tried to get the case thrown out before any punishment had been meted out, but if they will be telling transfer targets and squad members that the ban will be overthrown they remain out of the Champions League until they are back in.
We have two players whose contracts finish in the summer. What is the latest date we can use these players until?
Claudio Bravo and David Silva are both out of contract on June 30, the day pencilled in by UEFA and domestic leagues as the provisional end of this season.
The Premier League have already moved a potential resumption date from the beginning to the end of April and more realistic has been the decision in Spain to postpone matches indefinitely.
Nobody knows how long football won’t be able to be played and it could well be that seasons stretch beyond June 30, when players will be out of contract.
That is being seen as an issue that can be dealt with if and when it comes to it. It seems possible that players would be within their rights to walk away but equally it has been suggested it wouldn’t be that hard to have temporary contracts for anyone that falls into that category.
It would be sad indeed if it turns out that David Silva had already played his last competitive game for the Blues.
Who will the club’s No.2 goalkeeper be next season if Bravo leaves?
As things stand, Bravo is expected to leave when his contract runs out/the season finishes at whatever point that is. City’s sister club New York City are one of a number of teams to have made him an offer.
Bravo has redeemed his reputation at City in the last few seasons but can’t get away from that nightmare first campaign under Pep Guardiola and there’s little reason to keep him.
A No.2 hasn’t been set in stone but US goalkeeper Zack Steffen looks to be in pole position to put pressure on Ederson. City paid an MLS-record fee for a goalkeeper to sign the 25-year-old from Columbus Crew and he has made the right impression on loan at Dusseldorf. He may be relatively unknown in the Premier League but people who have known him for a long time are not surprised by his rise.
Aro Muric stepped in as No.2 last season when Bravo was injured but what looked like a promising loan to Nottingham Forest very quickly went sour and he has effectively wasted a year of his career.
Another goalkeeper could be brought in, but is not a priority and City don’t have endless money to spend.
Is the team making any progress in trying to sign another defender?
Yes, is the short answer.
A lot of work went into signing a defender last summer but the overall verdict was they couldn’t find the right person for the right money.
That same tactic was used the previous summer: they wanted Jorginho from Napoli but only at a certain price and when Chelsea came in and offered money they simply decided to stick with what they had.
That obviously hasn’t worked out for their title defence this season but just as they identified Rodri in the 12 months after Jorginho the scouting team led by Txiki Begiristain are doing their due diligence to line up the next player.
Milan Skrniar and Kalidou Koulibaly are two of the more high-profile stars being linked with a move, but recent history would suggest it will be somebody more under the radar that fits the same profile of a Bernardo Silva, Ederson, or Aymeric Laporte – little fanfare but quick to prove their worth.