Pep Guardiola claims there will be changes at Manchester City as he vowed to improve on his disappointing first season.
Guardiola will begin rebuilding City’s squad straight after tomorrow’s final game at Watford, where he hopes to seal an automatic Champions League spot, and he wants at least five new players.
Alexis Sanchez, Kyle Walker and Virgil van Dijk are his top targets as he pursues two full-backs, a centre-half, an attacker and a goalkeeper.
Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart and Jesus Navas lead those heading for the exit and Guardiola says he has assessed who should stay and who should go.
“I know about my players,” said the City boss. “I learnt a lot about what we have to do to make these players better and win the games.
“We are going to make changes, but a lot of players are going to remain.”
Guardiola will be back behind his desk on Monday, planning for next season, and he admits City have much to do to close the huge gap between them and Chelsea.
After his huge success at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola has endured a chastening debut campaign and is determined City will be title challengers next season.
“Normally the big teams always fight until the end, and after that you can win or lose,” said the Spaniard.
“In the Premier League, we didn’t fight until the end for the results because two teams were better than us and we dropped a lot of points at home.
“We must improve on that next season. Depending on what happens the day after tomorrow, we are going to finish 15 or 17 points behind first and second. The gap to the leaders is big.
“We have to work harder next season to reduce that gap.”
Guardiola feels City can take the first step by beating Watford to guarantee third place ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal and qualify directly for next season’s Champions League.
“We still have 95, 96 minutes to fight to do one thing that’s so important for the club and the future and that’s to be in the last three,” he said.
“So it’s a crucial game for us. It’s a final, it’s an absolute final.
“Of course, it’s in our hands. It depends on us. We just look at what we have to do – win the game.
“Watford were one team during the season we had a good result against at home. Now we will travel tomorrow to London to win again.
“Yes, there is pressure, every game has pressure. Every game, we play for everything, but it’s in our hands.
“It doesn’t depend on Arsenal or Liverpool. It depends on us. We have to go there and win the game.”