Spanish international winger Jesus Navas, and experienced French defender Gael Clichy on Thursday headed a quartet of players to be released by Manchester City in the promised close season clearout.
City announced later Thursday reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who famously saved three penalties in the shootout win over Liverpool in the 2016 League Cup final, would also be leaving. In a busy day of pruning the squad, responsible for an underwhelming campaign that resulted in the first ever trophyless season for manager Pep Guardiola, Clichy’s compatriot and fellow French international defender 34-year-old Bacary Sagna was also told his services were no longer required.
The quartet join veteran Argentinian full-back Pablo Zabaleta in leaving after their contracts ended. Ivorian midfield great Yaya Toure is another whose contract is up but having forced his way back into favour he has impressed on the pitch.
Navas, 31, made over 100 Premier League appearances for City over the four years he spent there, scoring four times, and was a pivotal member of the 2013/14 title winning team. “Working with Jesus has been a pleasure.
His hard work, dedication, professionalism and desire to win have been apparent every single day,” said City director of football Txiki Begiristain. Clichy, also 31, won two Premier League crowns and twice lifted the League Cup in the six years he spent at the club after joining from rivals Arsenal.
“To win four major trophies and help establish the club as one of the top teams in English football has been an incredible journey that I’m proud to have been a part of,” the French international told the club website.
“It’s amazing to see where the club is today and I am sure there is plenty more success to come,” he added. Begiristain, who will be heavily involved with Guardiola in strengthening the squad in the close season, praised Clichy for his commitment.
“Since my first day here, he has been outstanding in the way he has applied himself, both in games and in training,” said the Spaniard. Caballero, 35, said the 2016 League Cup final would stay with him forever.
“To win the League Cup in such dramatic circumstances was special and it’s a day I will never forget,” said the 35-year-old, who joined from Malaga in 2014.
Aside from those out of contract there are others who were sent out on loan like England goalkeeper Joe Hart, volatile French midfielder Samir Nasri and misfiring striker Wilfried Bony who could also be offloaded. -AFP