Guardiola faces tough decisions selecting Champions League squad

Gabriel Jesus's imminent arrival at Manchester City gives manager Pep Guardiola a welcome boost in striker options but it also gives him an extra headache when the Champions League knockout stages kick off in February.

The Brazilian forward will join up with the Premier League side in January and will be available to make his debut against Burnley on Jan. 2.

Jesus is also expected to be added to Guardiola's European squad but the City boss faces a renewed dilemma over the makeup of that 25-man squad.

Guardiola can only name 17 non-homegrown players and the Catalan was forced to leave out Yaya Toure and young Spanish midfielder Aleix Garcia for the group-stage games in September.

City's issues in the New Year are eased by the fact that Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho will have been with the club for two years in January and therefore qualifies to go onto the 'List B' for players aged under 21.

With just two strikers currently available, Jesus is likely to step straight into Guardiola's squad. The 20-year-old, who remained at Palmeiras on loan and helped them win the Brazil championship this week, is highly-rated by the City staff, sources have told ESPNFC.

But the re-emergence of Toure, 33, means that Guardiola is again left with another tough decision on who to leave out.

The Ivorian midfielder was frozen out at the Etihad earlier in the season after comments made by his agent Dimitri Seluk.

But Toure apologised for Seluk's remarks in November and was brought back into the first team for the games against Crystal Palace and Burnley and now would appear to be firmly back in the manager's plans.

Toure, who is out of contract at the end of the summer, has expressed his desire to force his way back into the Champions League squad.

If he completes a full turnaround and makes the cut for the 17 non-homegrown players, Guardiola will be forced to look to other areas of his squad for a player to leave out.

Here are five possible names who could be left out...

Vincent Kompany

The City captain has played the fewest minutes of any non-homegrown first-team member this season. Kompany hasn't played a full match for City this campaign and has not played a single minute in the Champions League.

The 30-year-old has been plagued by injuries for the past two-and-a-half seasons and is currently ruled out for four to six weeks with knee ligament damage.

However, with a shortage of defensive cover and Kompany's obvious quality, Guardiola may want to keep the Belgium international in his squad.

Leroy Sane

The Germany international has struggled to make an impact early in his City career following his £37m move from Schalke in the summer.

Sane was back late from the European Championships and missed much of the preseason. Then he injured a hamstring, which meant he didn't make his first start until Sept. 21.

Since then, the 20-year-old has been on the fringes of the first team and Guardiola says they need to be patient with him as he acclimates to the Premier League.

Sane showed his quality in Europe when he made a brilliant impact against Real Madrid for Schalke in 2015 and his match-winning skills could see Guardiola stick with the winger.

Yaya Toure

Guardiola has coped without his midfielder in Europe so far and the City boss may be happy to continue without him.

City produced a brilliant team performance to beat Barcelona 3-1 at the Etihad and that could be the Catalan's template for success in Europe.

With City determined to compete for both the Premier League and Champions League, Toure could be held back for domestic football where he has the capability to bully weaker opponents with his strength and skill.

But his two goals in the win against Crystal Palace on his return shows he still has the quality to swing tight encounters.


The Brazilian midfielder has started only one of City's seven Champions League games this season -- the second leg playoff clash with Steaua Bucharest when the tie was effectively over.

On top of that, Fernando has only started three Premier League -- the 2-0 defeat at Tottenham, the 4-0 victory at West Brom where he played at right back and Saturday's 2-1 win at Burnley.

Fernando's position at the base of midfield is a position that Guardiola sees as key and currently teammates Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan are seen as doing a better job than him at linking the play.

However, he has been used as an effective substitute to close out tight games -- as he did against Manchester United, Barcelona and Crystal Palace.

Jesus Navas

The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of the summer and has been used sparingly by Guardiola this season.

He has started just eight of City's 22 matches this season and his only starts in the group stage came home and away against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Navas's biggest problem is his lack of goal threat for a forward -- he has scored twice in his past 121 appearances and has never scored in Europe.

His biggest asset is his speed, which has seen him lead plenty of City counterattacks this season -- that could potentially be vital in Europe -- while also allowing him to get back quickly to help out his right back.