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Welbeck to head for Arsenal?

Transfer Talk about a minute ago
Read
May 25, 2011

Player Ratings: Manchester City

Champions League beckons for Manchester City next season after finishing third on 71 points, and Richard Jolly gives his verdict on the players that got them there.

David Silva: 8.5

Should score more often but, beyond that, it is hard to find fault with Silva's season. The Spaniard has provided delightful touches and wonderful passes, but always with a purpose; his pure class is not merely garnishing games, rather Silva is the elegant instigator of many a City goal.

Vincent Kompany: 8.5

The cornerstone of a frugal back four, a dominant defender and a figure whose influence was recognised when he captained the team in Carlos Tevez's absence, Kompany has emerged as one of the league's outstanding centre-backs. A model of consistency throughout the campaign, his defiance in the September win over Chelsea was a key performance in City's memorable season.

Carlos Tevez: 8

He might have been even better last season, but that is a sign of the standards Tevez has set at Eastlands. Besides contributing 24 goals, the Premier League's joint-top scorer has led the line with typical gusto and his tireless FA Cup final display, despite only playing 12 minutes in the previous five weeks, epitomised his attitude (on the pitch, anyway).

Nigel de Jong: 7.5

Had a slow start to the season, when his tackling acquired an infamy, but was soon showing why he is one of City's most consistent and reliable players, shielding the back four with typical determination and thoroughness. Perhaps the only surprise was that the Dutchman finally scored his first City goal to defeat West Ham.

Yaya Toure: 7.5 Plenty have queried his conversion into an attacking midfielder, as well as the large transfer fee and sizeable salary, but Toure entered City folklore with his winners against Manchester United and Stoke to bring the FA Cup to Eastlands. The workhorse got stronger as the season progressed, even if the sense remains that he might be better suited to a more orthodox central midfield position.

Pablo Zabaleta: 7.5

While others attract rather more attention, Zabaleta has become one of the most popular players at Eastlands, applying himself with great dedication to his duties on either flank. While right-footed, he has excelled at left-back against both Theo Walcott and Nani. Desperately unlucky not to start the FA Cup final.

Joe Hart: 7

Arguably Roberto Mancini's biggest selection dilemma occurred before the season started: Hart or Shay Given? The younger man got the nod, a choice that seemed vindicated by an outstanding opening-day display against Tottenham. But while valuable saves have followed - most obviously to thwart Kenwyne Jones in the FA Cup final - so have occasional errors as Hart hasn't quite replicated his brilliant form for Birmingham last year. It is a moot point, but Given might have done better.

Adam Johnson: 7

A year that lends itself to different conclusions: Johnson was often left among the replacements when fit by Mancini, but the manager complained that City lacked a player like him when the winger was injured. Throw in the manager's dissatisfaction with Johnson's lifestyle and it could be portrayed as a poor campaign. Except for one factor: his performances. He beats defenders with conspicuous ease and has proved an effective impact substitute.

Micah Richards: 7

One of those who appeared under threat after City's summer spending last year, Richards has rallied instead, restoring himself to first-choice full-back and looking to have allied greater reliability with forceful displays of energy on the right flank. Unlucky not to have been back in the senior England squad.

Patrick Vieira: 6.5

If this is his swansong, at least Vieira can go into retirement with his head held high. He no longer possesses the formidable engine of old, a reason why Mancini rarely started him in the Premier League, but proved a useful substitute and his height enabled him to chip in with some useful goals, usually from set-pieces.

Joleon Lescott 6

A season of twin nadirs - being omitted for Dedryck Boyata against Arsenal and the three January games, two against Leicester, where Lescott was all too culpable in the concession of seven goals - finished on the comparative high of the first major honour of his career and a regular place. He looks more reliable alongside Vincent Kompany than Kolo Toure, but the £22 million fee remains excessive and Lescott looks vulnerable to summer recruitment.

Gareth Barry: 5

When Joey Barton branded Barry "a teacher's pet", it may have been an extreme view but he wasn't the only one wondering what the 30-year-old contributes. If Nigel de Jong provides the bite and Yaya Toure the energy in City's central midfield trio, Barry is the other one, maintaining his place without offering much in the way of dynamism, creativity or goals. It was notable that one of City's most adventurous and emphatic performances of the season, the 5-0 win over Sunderland, occurred in his absence.

Mario Balotelli: 5

A gift for controversy is shared by an ability to polarise opinions. On the plus side, Balotelli performed reasonably well in both the FA Cup semi-final and final, as well as scoring 10 goals in his first 16 games; on the debit, he finished the campaign without a goal in 12 games, failed to find the net against anyone resembling elite opposition and his senseless sending-off against Dynamo Kiev was a major factor in City's Europa League exit.

Aleskandar Kolarov: 5 A thunderous shot and a fondness for forceful tackling suggested he would be a natural fit for the Premier League, but it is telling that Kolarov was left on the bench for some of City's bigger games. A lack of pace is one issue, a reluctance to close down the crosser another. It seemed his height earned him selection ahead of Pablo Zabaleta for the FA Cup final, but despite the result, it wasn't a choice that was justified.

Kolo Toure: 5

A mark that would have been higher but for the failed drug test that brought the Ivorian's season to a premature conclusion. However, while Toure formed a decent partnership with Vincent Kompany for much of the campaign, he had lost his place even before his misguided decision to take one of his wife's slimming pills backfired.

Emannuel Adebayor: 4.5

A Europa League hat-trick against Lech Poznan gave Adebayor a fine goals-per-game ratio but cementing a reputation as a disruptive influence was one cause of his January departure on loan to Real Madrid. Ultimately, a season that, at City anyway, may be remembered for the bizarreness and brevity of 15-second appearance in November's dreadful derby draw with Manchester United.

Dedryck Boyata: 4.5

A year of comparatively few games in which Boyata nonetheless featured in some of the bigger Premier League matches, if not necessarily for very long. His fifth-minute red card against Arsenal was the lowlight, a competent performance in victory against Chelsea the highlight, but he didn't give the impression of progressing.

James Milner: 4.5

With Yaya Toure occupying his favoured role as the attacking central midfielder, Milner has either been forced out to the wings, where he appears to have lost some of the incision he displayed in his younger days, or used as a holding midfielder, which renders the energy he displayed at Aston Villa irrelevant, or, more often, left on the bench. An unimpressive first season at Eastlands.

Jerome Boateng: 4

Quietly, one of the bigger disappointments of City's season. Boateng may have arrived as first-choice right-back, but was displaced by both Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta and, in between injuries, Mancini showed a reluctance to select the versatile German in the centre or on the left of the defence either. Bayern Munich's interest in him must be a consequence of his international form.

Edin Dzeko: 4

Without his equaliser against Notts County, City might not have won the FA Cup; without his winner at Blackburn, Champions League football perhaps wouldn't be coming to Eastlands next season. Despite those goals, however, Dzeko's has been an underwhelming start. Looking slow and appearing uninvolved, he has much to do to justify the £27 million fee, or to form a partnership with Carlos Tevez.

Shaun Wright-Phillips: 4

A forgotten figure who only made two league starts, one on the opening day of the season, and who didn't contribute a single goal. One Italian manager, Fabio Capello, displayed an irrational faith in Wright-Phillips in last summer's World Cup; another, Roberto Mancini, was quick to deem him surplus to requirements.

Wayne Bridge: 3

An experienced England international Bridge may be, but by the time he was loaned out to West Ham he appeared about Roberto Mancini's fifth-choice left-back. The Italian complained the 30-year-old was rarely fit, but when he was, his performances explained why City are willing to let him leave. Bridge struggled against both Blackpool and Arsenal to effectively end his City career.

Jo: 2 A joke figure with the club's fans, who sang "If Jo can play for City, so can I," his sole advocate, Roberto Mancini, lost faith in the undistinguished Brazilian long before the end of the campaign. It is strange to think Jo scored against Juventus in the Europa League; then again, it is strange to think he scored against anyone.

Roque Santa Cruz: 2 A return to Blackburn on loan looked, on paper, as if it might reinvigorate the Paraguay striker. It didn't as he failed to score and will certainly be headed for the exit door at Eastlands this summer.

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