Manchester City would have lost a number of their stars if the CAS had not lifted their two-year ban from European competitions on Monday, says former City defender Sylvain Distin. The Citizens were banned from Europe in February by the UEFA, but the CAS decided to lift that ban after finding ‘most of the alleged breaches reported were either not established or time-barred’.
Distin believes that several players have already been thinking about leaving Manchester City ever since the UEFA banned the club from Europe in February. In recent weeks Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Pep Guardiola have all been linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium if City would have kept their two-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League.
Talking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Distin said: “In terms of players, they have got some of the best players in the country, and in the world, and possibly not playing Champions League football for those players would have been very difficult. You would have expected a few of them to try and change clubs, and that’s not the way City work or the direction the club want to take. That would have been a big hit for them.”
“I am sure some players would think about it. When you are at a club like City, you expect to compete for the four or five trophies that you can win every season – and the Champions League is one of them. It’s always been a big objective for the club and they have never been able to win it so far”, Distin added.
“I am sure some of the players are here to win that for the first time with Manchester City. Not being able to qualify for the Champions League for two seasons would have been a big blow. City pay some of their best players a lot of money and not many clubs would have been able to afford them, so that would have restricted their choice if they wanted to leave. But I think some players would have looked for a chance somewhere else.”