Manchester City's signing of Emmanuel Adebayor from Arsenal, while long-awaited, does not so much fill a striking gap as thrust another big name into competition for a first team place.
Indeed, while there remain transfers to be made at Eastlands this summer, the northern side's latet acquisition's first effect may be to push £18m man Roque Santa Cruz onto the bench.
There is scope for squad disharmony, then, but more importantly there is now a massive level of depth at Manchester City that the fans will not have witnessed so far in the Premier League.
It is eminently possible, in fact, to make not one, but two credible line-ups that could compete at the very least for a top-half place in the Premier League. See below:Lineup 1
, in a 4-3-3 formation, can largely be considered first choice. Notice the inclusion of Joleon Lescott; he is bracketed because he hasn't signed - and in fact may not - but what is certain is that Manchester City will land a centre-back this summer, and a big-name one at that. So, Richard Dunne is kept out of the team by this hypothetical replacement.
Elsewhere, Carlos Tevez and Robinho flank the new summer signing, while defensive competition is strong, not least at right-back, where Micah Richards edges out Pablo Zabaleta.In Lineup 2
Zabaleta stars opposite Javier Garrido in the back line of this 4-4-2, while captain Dunne and Tal Ben Haim link up in the middle. Ahead of them is Nigel de Jong, an expensive signing, but one who is far from guaranteed a first team place; Martin Petrov and Elano, nearby, admittedly could leave the club this summer, but right now are ready and able to play, hugely talented, but bench-fodder.
Just (!) two strikers are deployed in this one, and while Roque Santa Cruz can be considered a 'lock' - due to his transfer fee, if little else - Craig Bellamy narrowly beats the competition to join him - that is, if he doesn't force his own exit, in light of his diminished chances of regular first team football.The Forgotten Men
The depth is not even exhausted by the selection of 22 players. One can argue, in fact, that among the substitutes for either side would be players who can deem themselves worthy of match action.
Kasper Schmeichel is perhaps one of the most 'fringe' names on the list, but moving forward we find promising youth team talent such as Kelvin Etuhu and Michael Johnson left with little to no chance of seeing first team action, not just next season, but for seasons to come.
Nowhere is this competition more pronounced than up front, where full internationals Felipe Caicedo, Ched Evans, and Benjani linger on the sidelines, as do countless youths such as Vladimir Weiss in midfield and Shaleum Logan further back.Too Many Stars?
Even taking out of the equation supposed moral objections to their spending, it only requires a glance at clubs hot on the continent to see that squad stacking may not necessarily lead to success.
City's neighbours, Manchester United, rose to the top of world football with a squad arguably containing fewer top talents than the one City have now, while Barcelona succeded them with a tremendously gifted set of youth products and the odd big-money signing.
Not even Real Madrid, in all their Galactico madness, plan to keep their squad in anything resembling its current shape. At least nine quality, international players will be cleared out to leave the Merengues with a first XI that needs no introduction, but a squad that is comparitively modest, with several players from the youth system - or so they hope, at least.
City, meanwhile, don't look like offloading more than half a dozen players at most, while another one, at least, is sure to arrive before deadline day in six weeks' time. Such rampant competition may see, if you'll forgive the pun, Sparks fly.
This is a large squad, a talented squad, and one that will treat their supporters to fabulous football this season. On top of that, they should - at least in theory - stroll into the top four and beyond - but in practice, might the incredible squad imbalance bring about another season of disappointment at Eastlands? Only one man in recent history has managed success with a squad even resembling one of City's depth, and Jose Mourinho is, at least for now, well and truly out of reach - is Mark Hughes still the man for this job?Sulmaan Ahmad & Ewan Macdonald, Goal.com