And that’s a wrap! Although it feels like thirty eight games have flown by it still took until the final game of the season for the club to finally confirm their Champions League status for next season. At times the season has been incredibly exciting, frustrating, underwhelming and even challenging but all that is soon forgotten once the dust settles and the club takes stock with a rebuilding project which could see both a number of new faces arrive upon the blue half of Manchester with several of the current class of 2016/17 heading in the opposite direction.
Of course sourcing players from a far and bringing in players from other teams in the transfer window will be City’s most likely way of transforming the squad into title contenders once again. Nonetheless the time has come for those closer to home, the numerous players shipped out on loan across land and sea at the start of the season to now pack their bags and say their goodbyes with Manchester calling. What the future holds for City’s loanees remains to be seen but their careers will have undoubtedly developed in one way or another away from Manchester and for some, could even take one final twist or turn as the footballing season culminates across Europe.
In what you could say has been very much a breakthrough season for Aaron Mooy, who is quickly establishing himself as a household name in the English game, the Australian’s season could well yet end with silverware after his Huddersfield Town side qualified for the Sky Bet Championship playoff final last Wednesday. With both sides unable to be split over two legs, penalties beckoned and Mooy most certainly played his part in The Terriers’ progression to the final by scoring a vital penalty under pressure and showing just one of the many reasons why a whole host of both Premier League and Championship clubs have expressed a serious interest in acquiring Mooy on a permanent basis. In keeping with England, fellow City loanee Jason Denayer may have been in the headlines for all sorts of reasons in recent days but the Belgian didn’t feature for Sunderland last weekend. If recent rumours are anything to go by including another loan return to Turkey or a move across Europe, Denayer may well have played his last game for The Black Cats.
From England to Scotland and like Aaron Mooy, Patrick Roberts continued to stake his claim for a place at Manchester City in the future during Celtic’s 5-0 thrashing of Partick Thistle. After winning the penalty which set Celtic on their way to another resounding away victory, Roberts went on to score two goals of his own in an impressive display by the promising wide man – a performance which the BBC described Roberts’ showing as ‘completely unplayable at times’. Roberts continued in his fine form in assisting Celtic’s second goal as his loan club became the first team to complete a Scottish top-flight season unbeaten for 118 years – perhaps no surprise why Roberts has said he has no regrets over choosing club over country with Celtic on track for further silverware this weekend in the Scottish Cup Final. Meanwhile at least for now, current loanee goalkeeper Billy O’Brien took time this week to look forward to the future and the ‘good times ahead’ as he announced via Twitter that his eleven years at the club had finally come to an end. Although his future remains unclear, current loan club St. Mirren may well make his move permanent as the young goalkeeper becomes a free agent.
Next the host of a number of promising young City stars NAC Breda continue to look towards the Dutch top flight after their recent playoff matches against Volendam. On-loan City forward Thomas Agyepong opened the scoring for NAC Breda in their first of two games against Volendam in what was a 2-2 draw, scoring only his second league goal of the season in a game where fellow loanees Manu Garcia and James Horsfield also featured. NAC Breda meanwhile were then grateful to Manu Garcia after assisting Breda’s second in a 2-0 home victory over Volendam – a mere three days later. Bersant Celina and Oleksandr Zinchenko, who have spent the season out on loan in the Netherlands, will surely have one eye on a return to Manchester with fellow Eredivisie loanee Enes Ünal widely linked with another high-profile European loan move only this week.
In a week where Joe Hart was named alongside former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen in Goal‘s worst Serie A team of the season, the Englishman once again found himself on the losing side this time to current home of City loanee Olivier Ntcham. Whilst it was a better day for Ntcham whose side confirmed their Serie A status for season with a 2-1 victory over Hart’s Torino, Ntcham had to make do with an appearance off the bench on 77 minutes. In swapping Serie A for Serie B and after a difficult few seasons for Argentine midfielder Bruno Zuculini will certainly be smiling this week after playing a part in Hellas Verona’s promotion back to the Italian top flight. Zuculini’s side confirmed their promotion last Thursday evening with a 0-0 away draw against Cesena in which he played a full ninety minutes.
And finally to La Liga, Marlos Moreno may well have hinted at staying in La Liga for another season amid rumours of a potential move to Mexico, but all focus would have been on ending a mixed first season in Europe on a high. Despite making do with another substitute appearance, Moreno did come on after 58 minutes in a convincing 3-0 win for Deportivo La Coruña. Eliaquim Mangala on the other hand, another player whose future in La Liga is unknown at present, made his 30th league appearance for Valencia in a local home derby defeat to close neighbours Villarreal. Ruben Sobrino played 61 minutes for Deportivo Alavés with his side finishing the season in an impressive ninth position in the Spanish top flight.
In the Spanish Segunda division however, three games remain for both Pablo Maffeo and Angeliño with Maffeo’s Girona side in pole position to take the second promotion spot to La Liga. Maffeo played 81 minutes in Girona’s 0-0 draw with relegation threatened Alcorcón whilst Angeliño’s Mallorca picked up a much needed win to take them within three points of safety, beating fellow strugglers Almería 2-1 at home.