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Transfer Rater: Nicolas Pepe to Man City

Football Whispers
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Kevin De Bruyne overtakes Sergio Aguero at Manchester City, Vincent Kompany a big faller

Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva provided the goals to help Manchester City begin their title defense with a 2-0 win over Arsenal.

Last September, we looked at the most important players at Manchester City. With the new season underway, who are the risers and fallers?

This list is not extensive and has been ranked according to varying factors. Some players still with a part to play have been omitted. Performance, potential, the ability to make an impact and influence the course of a game, other options in that area of the field, the ability or inability to replace them and market value have all played a part in revising the 15.

1. Kevin De Bruyne (+1)

The Belgium international was not only the king of Premier League assists for a second straight season, but he has become the central figure of Pep Guardiola's attacking master plan. His influence and seniority is growing with each passing season and he would have been the Player of the Year but for Mohamed Salah's extraordinary individual campaign last time out.

2. Sergio Aguero (-1)

The Argentinian striker is possibly playing the best football of his career and would have been close to being the league's top scorer in 2017-18 had a knee injury not cut short his season. This time last year his position was under threat from Gabriel Jesus but he's re-established himself as first choice and Guardiola believes he could be even deadlier after an operation on his knee.

3. Fernandinho (re-entry)

From unsung hero to "one of the best holding midfielders in the world," Fernandinho's understanding of his pivot position in front of the defence makes him a key figure. His role becomes even more important after summer moves for a deputy fell through and it's vital he remains fit and in form.

4. John Stones (+6)

Guardiola has never doubted the England defender's potential and he started to show his quality in the first half of last season. Stones lost form in the New Year, but after a strong World Cup and an early return in the summer, he will become the first choice central defender because of his all-round game.

5. Ederson (+2)

He equalled the world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper last summer and, following a brilliant season, a new seven-year deal and the money spent for keepers by City's rivals, he looks an absolute bargain. Ederson's alertness and passing abilities are seen as his key attributes, but the Brazilian is a fine shot stopper as well.

6. Raheem Sterling (+8)

Finishing and passing in the final third were always the questions surrounding the England forward, but he answered them emphatically last season with 23 goals and 17 assists in all competitions. Sterling produces his best form under Guardiola and the only concern is that he is entering the final two years of his contract.

7. Leroy Sane (+4)

Along with Sterling, Sane was in double figures for goals and assists in the Premier League last term and was named Young Player of the Year. His absence from the Germany World Cup squad was a shock for those that watched him last season as his speed and quality make him a crucial part of City's attacking threat.

8. David Silva (-4)

He's now 32, but Silva's touch and vision remain immaculate. Despite a tough year away from the pitch when his son was born prematurely, he remained committed and important to the squad. The one thing missing from his collection is a Champions League winners' medal and, after retiring from international football, his desire to end that wait will be greater than ever.

9. Kyle Walker (no change)

The England full-back was an instant hit after a £50 million move from Tottenham, fitting perfectly into the Guardiola system with his speed and power offering an attacking threat and defensive cover. At the World Cup, Walker showed he also has the versatility to fit into a back-three, which Guardiola may consider.

10. Aymeric Laporte (new entry)

Arrived in January and has established himself as the first choice on the left side of central defence with steady performances. His passing and comfort on the ball shows why Guardiola went back in for the Frenchman after he had initially turned down a move to the Etihad.

11. Gabriel Jesus (-3)

The Brazilian is still learning and found it tough on occasions in England last season. But Jesus is still dangerous in front of goal and showed he is not scared of the big moment, clinically finishing an early chance in the Champions League defeat to Liverpool and scoring the injury-time winner that brought up 100 points on the final day of last season.

12. Benjamin Mendy (-7)

City survived without the French full-back last season after a cruciate knee ligament injury forced him to miss more than eight months. But he is back and ready to offer the overlapping dynamism that was missing and will be like a new signing.

13. Bernardo Silva (no change)

The Portuguese playmaker's first season wasn't as fruitful as he would have liked. He spent much of last season as a backup right winger but now looks ready to become an alternative to De Bruyne or Silva after having his first preseason with Guardiola.

14. Riyad Mahrez (new entry)

A club record signing in the summer, Mahrez offers the individual quality that was perhaps missing at times last season. The Algerian winger can drift past defenders with ease and can score goals from nothing, which offers a new threat in tight games.

15. Vincent Kompany (-12)

The Belgium defender refuses to be written off despite his constant injury problems. Kompany came back last season and featured in the final games of the campaign but is more likely to deputise for Stones and Laporte, who now look like City's long-term future.

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