The official 2023/24 Premier League squad lists were published this week, showing City have 20 players on their main squad, with new signings Josko Gvardiol and Jeremy Doku still eligible as under-21 players. Forgotten goalkeeper Zack Steffen, recovering from a long-term injury, was a surprise inclusion on the main list, highlighting the limited options available to Pep Guardiola this season.
Guardiola has won Premier League titles with small squads before, and that in itself is not an issue. What could be an issue is the balance of &aposhomegrown&apos and &aposnon-homegrown&apos players in a squad that will automatically increase next season.
Gvardiol and Doku will both turn 22 in 2024, meaning they will not be able to be registered on the under-21 list next season. That takes City&aposs 20-man squad up to 22, with a maximum of 25 players.
However, of those 25, only 17 can be non-homegrown – that is, having not been registered with a club affiliated with the FA for three entire seasons before the age of 21.
City currently have 13 players who do not satisfy the homegrown status, with Gvardiol and Doku taking that number to 15. If there are no further outgoings, City could only make two further signings next summer who did not have homegrown status, before having to decide if any player had to be left out.
Steffen&aposs inclusion in the 2023/24 squad is more reflective of the fact that he did not find a loan club this summer, in part due to undergoing surgery over the summer. The USA goalkeeper has two years left on his contract, and has made it clear he is ready to leave City, so if he does that when he is back to fitness, that would free up another &aposnon-homegrown&apos place in the squad. That could be easier said than done, however.
James McAtee could return to the squad next season after his second spell at Sheffield United, and while he would also be over the threshold to still be included on the under-21 list, he has homegrown status having come through the academy. He would take the squad to 23 – without accounting for Steffen&aposs potential departure – with 15 non-homegrown players.
Maximo Perrone, another player out on loan, could also return and would not have homegrown status, but would just fall inside the cut-off to be on the under-21 list – players must have been born on or after 1 January 2003, with Perrone&aposs birthday on January 7.
That would leave City with just two spots left to play with for new signings, with homegrown status a key factor in building a squad for next season. Kyle Walker is out of contract next summer, but is expected to sign a new deal, while Scott Carson is the only other player out of contract at the end of the current season.
Extending Carson&aposs contract for another season would see him on City&aposs books as a 40-year-old, so maybe next summer is the year to find a replacement for him. There was interest in Stefan Ortega in the summer, too, so balancing the goalkeeper department while not taking up a valuable non-homegrown spot could also be an issue to deal with next summer.
CITY&aposS POTENTIAL PREMIER LEAGUE SQUAD FOR 2024/25: Carson*, Ortega, Ederson, Steffen, Ake*, Akanji, Dias, Gomez, Gvardiol, Stones*, Walker*, De Bruyne, Foden*, Rodri, Kovacic, Silva, Nunes, Phillips*, Doku, McAtee*, Alvarez, Grealish*, Haaland.