Not long ago, it appeared to be all doom and (relative) gloom at Manchester City. The club were set for two seasons without European football, while star players were supposedly not willing to wait around as they looked to fulfil their ambitions.
But following Monday's ruling, this has all changed.
The club's two-year ban for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), while the initial €30m fine was reduced to €10m. The positive impact this will have on the club financially and strategically cannot be understated.
Man City's Champions League ban has been lifted.— 90min (@90min_Football) July 13, 2020
Surprised? ? pic.twitter.com/RiXnRCojxu
Perhaps unsurprisingly, plenty of reports have since emerged that the Sky Blues are preparing for a busy summer as Pep Guardiola looks to strengthen his squad.
To say City have been linked with a number of players in the days since their ban was overturned would be true, yet it would also be a massive understatement.
Here, we take a look at 20 players who have all been linked with a move to the Etihad since the verdict and rank them based on the likelihood of them joining the Sky Blues...
20. Ryan Bertrand
Ryan Bertrand's impressive performances for Southampton have perhaps gone somewhat under the radar. But soon to be 31, Bertrand isn't the answer to City's problems at left-back. A talented defender, but not the one City need.
19. Dan-Axel Zagadou
City are in the market for a centre-back...but Dan-Axel Zagadou also isn't the man to solve Guardiola's defensive problems.
Sure, he's young and has potential, but the Sky Blues are in need of a leader with experience; someone who can deliver consistently.
18. Saul Niguez
Saul Niguez would slot in seamlessly into Guardiola's system, with his versatility, creativity and work ethic making him one of the world's best box-to-box midfielders.
But Man City's priorities lie elsewhere (specifically defence). Oh, and any deal to bring Saul to the Etihad would also use up nearly all of Guardiola's £150m transfer budget. Yikes.
17. Raul Jimenez
Raul Jimenez has been vital to Wolves' European charge this season, grabbing 16 goals and six assists in the Premier League so far.
He works tirelessly for his side and there is no doubting that he would succeed in a team like Man City, but he is one of the main men at Wolves. As for City, Gabriel Jesus is a very capable replacement for Sergio Aguero, not to mention the Brazilian is still just 23.
The cost of any potential deal also makes this move even more unlikely.
16. Kingsley Coman
It has been noted that City tried to include Kingsley Coman in the deal involving Leroy Sane. Ultimately, however, Bayern Munich refused to include the winger in the talks and Man City agreed to let Sane go without another player going in the other direction.
As a result, Coman will likely stay put, despite City's interest.
15. Lautaro Martinez
Lautaro Martinez's quality is undoubted, but if he were to leave Inter, it would appear as though his likely destination would be Barcelona - even despite their financial problems. After all, both the player and the club want the move to happen.
The Argentine would be an ideal acquisition for City, but there are other areas which Guardiola must look to address first.
14. Caglar Soyuncu
Powerful, good in the air and capable with the ball at his feet, it isn't difficult to see why Guardiola is said to be an admirer of Caglar Soyuncu.
It has even been suggested City will look to make a move for the £70m-rated man. But for this kind of money, Guardiola could be forced to look elsewhere.
13. Pau Torres
Pau Torres has enjoyed a very successful first full season in La Liga, resulting in interest from a number of top European sides.
But with a £45m release clause, a move wouldn't come cheap. Guardiola may be a fan, but it appears as though he has other, more experienced targets in mind.
12. Diego Carlos
A no-nonsense defender who takes charge at the back but is equally capable of playing with the ball at his feet, Diego Carlos has been linked with a number of top clubs as a result of his fine displays this season for Sevilla.
But considering the £65m valuation of the player and his tendency to commit unnecessary fouls, there may be more suitable alternatives.
11. Jack Grealish
It is actually City's local rivals Man Utd who have shown the most interest in Aston Villa's Jack Grealish. But the Sky Blues have also since entered the race for his signature, with Guardiola an admirer.
A versatile player capable of playing a similar role to Bernardo Silva, he could prove to be a valuable addition, providing cover on the left-wing, right-wing as well as in the centre of the park.
Villa's asking price may prove to be issue, while Guardiola may also prefer a more out-and-out replacement for Sane, however.
10. Ruben Dias
Ruben Dias on paper appears to be almost the perfect defender for Guardiola. The centre-back ticks all the boxes and despite being just 23, he has already developed into a real leader and commanding presence.
But his contract contains a release cause of €100m, a figure which underlines how highly Benfica rate him. Negotiations could prove too challenging, and City have seemingly cooled their interest somewhat.
9. Leon Bailey
Leon Bailey has struggled to hold down his place in the Bayer Leverkusen side this season, but this hasn't stopped him from being linked with Man City.
In fact, Guardiola is said to have been in touch with the winger to present the club's vision to the player, while Bailey himself is keen on the move. The 22-year-old has all the attributes to be a top winger and with the guidance of Guardiola, he could be a very shrewd acquisition - especially considering his reduced price.
But unfortunately for him, there is someone who is just a more suitable option.
8. David Alaba
City and Guardiola are clearly keen on signing David Alaba, while the player himself is interested in a move away from Bayern.
The versatile defender would be a world class addition, but he is said to be not overly keen on a move to the Etihad at this time.
7. Jan Vertonghen
'Jan Vertonghen, on a free transfer... really?!' is what many of you may be thinking right now.
But in reality, it is a move that makes plenty of sense for City. An experienced centre-back who can also play left-back when needed, Vertonghen would also not impact the transfer budget much, allowing Guardiola to also bring in a younger centre-back for the long-term.
It would be smart business and would benefit City both on and off the field.
6. Douglas Luiz
Aston Villa have endured a difficult first season back in the Premier League, but Douglas Luiz has been very impressive. 90min has learned that City are considering re-signing the 22-year-old, with Guardiola a big fan of the midfielder.
A buy-back clause was inserted into the deal which saw him join Villa last year, and the Citizens could bring him back to add greater depth to the midfield.
He may not be the marquee name many fans want, but don't rule it out.
5. Nathan Ake
Nathan Ake has been a shining light in what has been an otherwise difficult season for Bournemouth. As a result, there has been much talk about his future, with City among those interested.
Although he may not be the tallest, he's good in the air, while he's also proven his quality at Premier League level. Furthermore, he would suit Guardiola's style of play perfectly and would cost around £35-40m.
4. Ben Chilwell
Benjamin Mendy's fitness issues have led to concerns over whether he can hold down the left-back spot on a permanent basis. Ben Chilwell would be the most suitable option for City as they look to strengthen in this area.
The Leicester man has been linked with Chelsea as well, but a move to the Etihad would benefit all parties. Chilwell would thrive at Man City and while a move may not come cheap, he remains one of the club's top targets.
3. Milan Skriniar
It appears as though both Manchester clubs are fighting it out for Inter's Milan Skriniar, who could be on his way out of the club this summer. The defender has struggled to adapt to Antonio Conte's style and formation, but his talent is undeniable.
City were interested in the past, but were put off by the valuation of the player. But now, still only 25, it appears as though it is the perfect time for the club to push hard to sign Skriniar as he is just what they need at the back.
2. Ferran Torres
Guardiola will be looking to replace Sane, and Ferran Torres is a name that has been mentioned a number of times.
It is also important to note that there isn't as great a need to bring in a left-winger as there is for defensive reinforcements, therefore the large majority of the transfer budget will be spent in that department.
Ferran Torres' creativity, intelligence, understanding of the game, pace and value make him the ideal purchase. The 20-year-old is already a very well-rounded player and his development would only be aided under the guidance of Guardiola.
A top young talent, capable of playing in a number of different positions, Torres would be an excellent addition.
1. Kalidou Koulibaly
Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones simply aren't good enough for City. Whether either player is sold this summer remains to be seen, but a centre-back is the number one priority for the former Premier League champions.
And Kalidou Koulibaly is their main target.
In the prime years of his career, Koulibaly would bring authority, speed, experience and a real commanding presence to City's backline. He won't come cheap, but he may well be worth every penny.
Source : 90min