Three players Pep Guardiola should allow to leave Man City in the January transfer window – George Smith

Sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League table as the January transfer window approaches, Manchester City could be forgiven for taking a step back on keeping an eye on those behind them to see if they strengthen their squads in an attempt to keep up.

City will enter their Boxing Day clash with Leicester City on Sunday afternoon three points clear of second-placed Liverpool and six ahead of Chelsea in third.

To say City can enjoy this Christmas without too much stress is an understatement.

Whilst a three-point cushion cannot be considered as huge, certainly not at this stage of the season, City, with the way they are performing and winning matches at this moment in time, will not be too concerned, and why should they be?

They have won their last eight Premier League games on the spin and are looking solid defensively. In truth, it is hard to see, except for the continued debate about their possible need for a striker, just where they need to strengthen their armoury.

As well as that, it is hard to see where any potential January departures could also come from, except for the impending exit of Ferran Torres to Barcelona, as their squad appears so balanced.

Therefore, the most likely departures from the Etihad Stadium next month are youngsters, most probably on loan deals. But which youngsters would benefit most from some time away from the club?

Below, MEN Sport has analysed three players that Pep Guardiola and City ought to consider sending out on loan in January.

Romeo Lavia

Considered as one of the most exciting prospects emerging from City’s academy, Belgian midfielder Lavia has done enough this season to already earn his senior debut for the club.

After impressing in training and in the youth set-up, Lavia, who turns 18-years-old next month, was handed a starting berth in the third round of the Carabao Cup, as City sent League One side Wycombe Wanderers packing with an emphatic 6-1 win.

As well as that, Lavia has also been included on the substitutes three times in the Premier League and twice in the UEFA Champions League, again confirming that he does creep into Guardiola’s thoughts.

But considering that the youngster has no shortage of big-name, experienced players in the pecking order ahead of him, sending him out on loan until the end of the season in January is unlikely to do him any harm at all to develop his personal game and bolster his experience of playing regular first-team football.

James McAtee

Scoring goals for fun at youth level, attacking-midfielder McAtee is a unique talking point, with his form worthy of a first-team opportunity, whilst those ahead of him in the pecking order are likely to halt his progression.

This season, McAtee, who is 19-years-old, has been in terrific goal-scoring form, netting 16 goals in 17 matches, with 11 of those strikes coming in 12 Premier League 2 appearances.

The versatile midfielder has been rewarded for his performances by earning two senior appearances, but they have both come from the substitutes bench.

Manchester City youngster James McAtee featured in the Premier League against Everton last month.
Manchester City youngster James McAtee featured in the Premier League against Everton last month.

Whilst his talented and potential is undisputed, there is only so much youth football that a player can stomach, especially when they are performing to such a high standard. Therefore, a temporary loan exit in January seems like a logical decision, certainly from the outside looking in.

Championship clubs would no doubt be queuing up to get a slice of the youngster. Should a switch to a second-tier outfit materialise, he could ask for no better learning curve than experiencing the cut and thrust and physicality of the Championship.

Liam Delap

Considering Delap is City’s only recognisable out-and-out striker, the injury issues he has encountered this season could not have come at a worse time for him.

The 18-year-old, who joined the Blues from Derby County in 2019, is dubbed as a very exciting prospect and one that has the potential to make a name for himself as a Premier League player in years to come.

However, injury troubles have hampered his progression this season, restricting him to just four appearances; two in the Premier League 2 and two in the Papa John’s Trophy.

If he makes a recovery not too far down the line, City ought to consider sending him out on loan in next month’s transfer window, not only to bolster his development but to also help him get into some sort of rhythm again.

City have proven that they are not reliant on a striker to do the damage at the top end of the pitch, meaning it is unlikely that he would force his way into Guardiola’s plans before the end of the campaign.

Like McAtee, a loan move to the Championship could be the perfect recipe to help Delap continue his development.

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