Manchester City’s international stars are professional enough to focus on winning three trophies, including the Champions League, for the remainder of this season.
But it would be naive to think there won’t be consequences beyond the summer should the club’s two-year ban from the Champions League be upheld.
Players like Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane would be coveted by most of Europe’s top clubs who could promise them a place in the top competition.
Pep Guardiola insists he will remain at Man City next year but his star players could leave
There could be a reduction in bonuses for City players without European football and without Champions League revenue there would have to be an appropriate reduction in the overall wage bill at The Etihad to fit FFP.
Of course, it’s very much an ongoing case with City insisting they will go to arbitration to overturn the ban. But if the worst happens and they are excluded, they run the risk of losing some valuable talent.
Sportsmail have identified who could leave should City fail to overturn their ban…
KEVIN DE BRUYNE
A world-class midfielder who would be of interest to virtually every club on the continent if he ever expressed a desire to leave.
The Belgian’s £280,000-a-week contract at The Etihad also includes a £1.5million bonus for qualifying for the Champions League and an extra £1m for winning it. That means any City ban would potentially cost him £5m over the two years.
If City did have to raise money to keep them within FFP, they could get £120m for De Bruyne – not bad for a 28-year-old.
Intriguingly, Jurgen Klopp once wanted to sign him at Borussia Dortmund – but De Bruyne moving to Anfield would be the ultimate sanction for breaking UEFA rules. Real Madrid and Barcelona have both been linked with him in the past.
There is no doubt De Bruyne genuinely loves being at City but he is also incredibly ambitious and missing out on the chance to win Europe’s top prize would leave him with a huge dilemma.
Kevin De Bruyne may look to move elsewhere should Manchester City fail to overturn their ban
The England forward has spoken before about his interest in playing abroad at some point during his career. So it’s natural to wonder if a Champions League ban at City would be the right time for him to sample La Liga or Serie A.
Sterling, who earns £300,000-a-week, has been a long-term target for Real Madrid but City have been able to fend off interest to date with a combination of new contracts and the chance to work with Pep Guardiola.
At 25, Sterling is at his peak and his fantastic work ethic is probably greater than any of the other players categorised as world-class.
His agent has issued a firm statement that nothing will distract Sterling from trying to lead City to glory this season and he is doing everything to get fit for the Champions League showdown against Real. But a reverse for City in arbitration could alter the situation for next season.
Raheem Sterling has been linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid in the past
Pep Guardiola has admitted he’s powerless to force the £90,000-a-week German winger to sign a new contract, though he has categorically stated ‘We want him’.
It’s a strange situation with Sane having missed the season after a cruciate injury sustained in the Community Shield, though he is back in training.
The 24-year-old only has a year left on his current deal after this summer and Bayern Munich, who like to house all the top German players, have made £70m offers before.
Sane is coming into the prime years of his career and having missed all of the current campaign so far, he won’t want to stay at a club long-term unless they can provide Champions League football.
Lerpy Sane continues to be linked with a move to Bundesliga outfit Bayern Munich
On a par with £80m Harry Maguire as the best central defender in the Premier League bar Virgil van Dijk, and his reputation has soared further given City’s defensive problems during his long-term absence because of a knee injury.
It’s one of the game’s most puzzling mysteries that the 25-year-old hasn’t been capped by France and he may feel that a change will help that situation if City aren’t in the Champions League.
Chelsea are keen admirers and Barcelona have been fans since they were thrashed by Laporte’s Atletico Bilbao in the 2016 Spanish Super Cup.
Laporte has a £120,000-a-week deal to stay at City until 2025 so the club are in a strong position to stave off interest unless they bid in excess of the Maguire fee and he becomes the most expensive defender ever.
Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte has emerged as the club’s star defender in recent years
The Brazilian has embraced life in Manchester and made great efforts to learn and conduct interviews in English – unlike many of his City team-mates.
However, a Champions League ban would be a disaster for the 22-year-old who faces immense pressure from Roberto Firmino and Brazilians around Europe to be the main centre forward for the Selecao.
Pep Guardiola already rotates him and Sergio Aguero and with fewer games because of a European ban, it’ll mean fewer minutes for Jesus.
Aguero is still No 1 at The Etihad and will have a final season there before finishing his career in South America.
Major clubs like Inter Milan are monitoring Jesus’ situation in case he feels being out of the Champions League will be detrimental to his long-term career prospects.
For a young player from Palmeiras, he has done tremendously well in adapting to England but one senses the temptations of a warmer climate would still be an influence despite his £90,000-a-week salary.
‘It’s hard to get used to the cold — that’s always difficult — but we find a way,’ he’s said before.
Gabriel Jesus may look to play in warmer climes should City’s European ban be upheld