Speaking exclusively to 888sport, Shaun Wright-Phillips believes Ajax’s teenage superstar-in-the-making Matthijs de Ligt should be Manchester City’s number one transfer target this summer as the title-holders begin the ‘almost impossible’ task of replacing their departing leader and legend Vincent Kompany.
“I wouldn’t say there are big names coming in but the club definitely needs some big characters because Vinny Kompany is a big character both on and off the pitch. He is going to be almost impossible to replace.
"But if you can start off by replacing him on the field then I’d love to see De Ligt at Manchester City. After watching him play this year and especially being so young I think him and Laporte would be a great team.”
“People will try and take advantage because it’s Manchester City but considering what he’s worth and capable of City should keep going for him.
"I’m not saying £180m or something stupid like that but I’d like to see him there because he’s such a good player.”
Should the Dutch defender opt to join Pep Guardiola’s men – against some stiff competition it has to be said from United, Barcelona and pretty much any club blessed with a huge pull and bank balance – he won’t be the only wonderkid lighting up the Etihad.
Last season saw the staggered emergence of a kid they call the ‘Stockport Iniesta’, a midfielder who England have placed a great deal of hope in too. Can Wright-Phillips see him nailing down a starting spot at club level now that his development has reached the next plateau?
“He’s a little like Eyal Berkovic in that he is very consistent in his pass and move and he has those passes that slides the wingers in. So he reminds me of Eyal Berkovic but obviously the English version, our version.
"He’s very good at his one touch and popping it around corners into the right place. Where he differs is that Eyal would rather not score but pass. Foden can do both.”
With Foden, Jadon Sancho, and Callum Hudson-Odoi – who we’ll come to shortly – set to explode onto the international scene, it’s a very exciting time for England and especially so as they presently already have two outstanding young charges vying for selection.
Alas it feels like one has stalled this term while the other has scaled ever-greater heights. Which begs the question: is the gap between Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling now wider than the one separating their respective clubs?
“For me that’s a yes. I think of Raheem Sterling as an amazing player whereas I think of Rashford as being very good. With what Raheem brings to the team right now I don’t think Rashford can.
"For a player of Rashford’s quality I feel like he should score more goals and I think Pep has taught Raheem how to do that. He always seems to be in the right place for the cut-backs and crosses: he has learnt to read the game so much better.
"That has allowed him to attack better and to be freer. He has done an outstanding job over the past couple of years and for me he is just getting better and better.”
The sensational form of Sterling is partly responsible for spawning one of the transfer betting stories this summer, that of Leroy Sane’s possible switch to Bayern Munich.
Does the former City, Chelsea and England winger believe it’s in the 23-year old’s best interests to stay or go?
“What it boils down to is whether he is happy. He might simply just want to go back home. And these are not questions that any of us can answer.
"What we do know is that with Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling playing so well how do you drop them? That’s the downside of playing for one of the top teams: that no matter how well you play sometimes you have to step aside.”
Which all adds up to a close season of unknowns for the treble-winners leaving us with only one certainty: that no matter what happens they will be up there challenging for the title again next term as the team to beat.
“I don’t think repeating these achievements will be difficult for City. They know now how it feels and they will want to feel it again; they will want to try and win everything once again. Why wouldn’t you?
"If you win three trophies domestically it gives you a feeling that you’re a dominant force now and the harder part is to keep dominating and that’s what the boys will be so determined to do.”
After finishing 26 points adrift of the top with a disillusioned fan-base making the situation worse, it was perhaps inevitable that another of Wright-Phillips’ former clubs Chelsea would seek a fresh direction this summer and this despite Maurizio Sarri guiding them to third and winning the Europa League.
Currently the chain-smoking Italian remains in charge at the Bridge but rumours of a departure to Juventus grow louder by the day as too does talk surrounding his possible successor.
It’s a newbie coach who Wright-Phillips considers a close friend after winning a bunch of trophies with him back in the day.
“But if I was in Frank’s shoes I would wait a little bit longer. Chelsea is not an easy job to step into and there is no point him stepping in and getting the sack within two years.
"He may as well continue progressing as a coach and then when he goes there he goes there for good.”
If Sarri’s departure is likely an exit for Eden Hazard to Real Madrid is highly probable and the affable 37 year old – now based in the US – doesn’t blame the Belgium one bit.
“He’s a massive asset to lose but at some point players like that want to try different challenges if their team is not completely dominating. It’s only a short career.”
At least in this instance Chelsea have a ready-made replacement in the form of Christian Pulisic, who was bought for £58m last January from Borussia Dortmund before being loaned back until the season’s end. Wright-Phillips however disputes their like-for-like status.
“I wouldn’t say Pulisic is there to fill Hazard’s boots. It’s not fair to put that load on him. He’s there to bring another way of playing for Chelsea and he will create his own footprints basically and build his own legacy there at the Bridge.
"He is definitely a player the fans will like. In America he is rated very, very highly.”
As too, on these shores is Callum Hudson-Odoi who, with his lightning speed, trickery and quick feet down the right flank in west London brings to mind a certain interviewee in his prime. How does Wright-Phillips view the teenager’s potential?
“I think Callum Hudson-Odoi can go to the top. We’ve all seen the glimpses of what he’s capable of and if he plays regularly and he finds a consistency and it keeps happening for him then he can only grow and mature.
"He can then become the player we expect him to be and he’ll be key for Chelsea and England once he’s back fit.
Shaun Wright-Phillips' Quickfire Predictions:
England vs Holland - Who Wins?
2-1 to England.
Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane will be the goal-scorers.