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Man City boss not afraid to axe big names

Pep Guardiola has never been afraid to axe big names.

He walked through the door at Barcelona and ditched Ronaldinho and Deco before his debut season, then cast aside Samuel Eto’o the following year – despite his key role in the Blaugrana’s treble success.

Now the Manchester City boss, after a third Premier League title in four years and a trip to the Champions League final, is making similar moves as he looks to reinvigorate his squad.

Sergio Aguero has been allowed to leave for Barcelona and more could follow with potentially the likes of Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and even Raheem Sterling heading through the Etihad exit door if attractive offers arrive.

He’s made plenty of friends at Barca, Bayern Munich and City during his managerial career, but hasn’t shirked making enemies either in his first three jobs.

Ronaldinho had been an incredible signing and achieved iconic status in Catalonia. But the combination of Lionel Messi’s emergence and his own decline due to off-field issues saw his days numbered.

“All of the players in the first-team squad last season are of a very high level,” he said when quizzed about their futures.

“But with the technical secretary we are forming a squad and Deco, Ronaldinho, and Eto’o are not in our minds.”

Ironically, Ronaldinho turned down the chance to join Man City’s revolution under new owner Sheikh Mansour and headed to AC Milan with Zambrotta in the summer of 2008. Deco, meanwhile, joined Chelsea and spent two seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Guardiola probably does not have many regrets in his career, but the decision to let goal machine Samuel Eto’o join Inter in a costly £40m part-exchange deal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic will haunt his Barca tenure.

The Cameroonian had struck 36 goals in all competitions in the 2008-09 campaign but clearly didn’t fit Guardiola’s style of football he wanted to implement.

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The Serie A outfit, managed by Jose Mourinho at the time, almost snapped their hands off to sign the prolific frontman and he went on to win the Treble in his first season in Italy, while Ibrahimovic fell out with Guardiola.

He continued the clear-out by flogging Gudjohnsen to Monaco for a £2m fee to make room for Bojan Krkic and Pedro, who was promoted from the B team.

The ultimate summer clear-out began after Barcelona pipped Real Madrid to LaLiga and won the Champions League thanks to Messi’s magic at Wembley.

It was very much a case of ripping up the playbook that had guaranteed the club success across the board and bringing a Spanish core to his side.

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