If UEFA wanted to send out a message then they certainly succeeded. Their Financial Fair Play (FFP) system had become open to mockery with Europe's elite finding ways to navigate around the rules and regulations. That stops here. Manchester City are being hung out to dry as the drama as an example for the watching world. This is what happens if you mess with us!
The Citizens have received a ban from European football for the next two seasons. It is a quite staggering act from UEFA, an organisation that have ordinarily been quite passive when monitoring the spending of its clubs.
As noted by the Financial Times, Paris Saint Germain forked out an eye-watering 422-million euros to land Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in 2017. The same report also highlights that the PSG businessmen managed to wrangle their way out of a trouble. It made UEFA look a little foolish and there have been episodes with other clubs that have been a little bit embarrassing for the footballing board. Now, the claws are out and the consequences could be huge for City.
Taxi for Pep
Pep Guardiola will not stay on at the Etihad. He has already won the domestic treble. He became the first manager to win the Premier League by reaching 100 points. Any continuation at the club without the possibility of UEFA Champions League success would be a fall from those dazzling heights. A new challenge will be calling. A new country is inevitable.
Guardiola has yet to manage in Italy and Juventus will be licking their lips. There is a level of discontent surrounding their current manager Maurizio Sarri. The Italian faces the prospect of losing the Serie A title to Inter Milan and second-best will not be tolerated by his employers. At this point, Sarri could well win the Italian league but, if Guardiola is available, he will not stand a chance.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager would love to pit his wits against old foe Antonio Conte. There are similarities between the football that Sarri and Guardiola want to play. A key difference is that Guardiola has had much more success with the style. What that does illustrate, though, is that the Juventus hierarchy want to play football in a specific way. That's why they dismissed Max Allegri, a successful pragmatist, in the first place.
Guardiola would inherit a team that was very close to his vision. Compared to his current City team, he would have a much stronger defensive shield. Equally, the prospect of managing Cristiano Ronaldo would simply be too tantalising for the Spaniard to ignore.
If Guardiola did accept this challenge, there would be one player who he would love to take with him.
We need to talk about Kevin
Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the world's best midfielder. His vision is extraordinary. His end-product is worthy of that vision. The idea that he wouldn't be lighting up the Champions League for two years just simply isn't fathomable. Like Guardiola, he is simply too good for that.
Juventus need an elite midfielder to help their project thrive. They have some very good players but they lack that world-class performer. Paul Pogba has been linked with a return to his old club but Guardiola would not sign the Frenchman due to his connection with Mino Raiola. That leaves De Bruyne as a genuine option for the Turin giants and the Belgian wouldn't be the only big departure from the Etihad.
A lot of Sterling
Raheem Sterling is another superstar. He has had a small dip in form of late but the England international has been performing at the highest level for a long time now. Like De Bruyne, Sterling needs to be playing in the Champions League and, at 25-years-old, he isn't a youngster anymore. To keep at the top level he needs to be playing in the biggest tournaments under the best coaches.
Real Madrid are an obvious shout. The Spanish giants need a marquee wide-man and may be priced out of a move for Mbappe. Sky Sports had linked Sterling with a move to Spain and that seems much more likely if City cannot get this ban overturned. He is a player of immense character and that is vital for people who move to the Bernabeu. That self confidence and character strength is matched by the want-away Leroy Sane.
The German has had his sights set on a return to his home country for some time. That decision is unlikely to have changed. Bayern Munich are huge admirers of the 24-year-old and City's ban will give them fresh impetus for a summer swoop.
City are the illustration of Brexit! They have left Europe and some of its key performers will want to jump ship. Ultimately, the effect it will have on the club in the next two years is still somewhat unknown.
A lot of the current players have been a key part of the whole but they haven't reached that elite status. There are two City players who are at that level and will want to push on over the next few years: De Bruyne and Sterling. This City team is incredible but they are the two players who have proven themselves in Manchester but, most importantly, they need to keep pushing onto greater things.
People will rightly laud the other players at this club but these are the two stars who simply cannot be allowed to fall into this period of insecurity. The others are amazing talents, however, the club will feel more confident about retaining their services. Many of them still have something to prove or have already played their best years.
Guardiola cannot be replaced like-for-like. Even in normal circumstances, the club couldn't simply bring in another elite manager. He is unique. Patrick Vieira is possible. A former City man who has had a solid few years in management. He has already managed New York City, a club that has shareholder links with the Citizens.
This job vacancy would certainly be attractive but it comes without the coveted Champions League. All the top managers want to compete in Europe's biggest competition. It's tough to imagine Mauricio Pochettino or Allegri jumping on this boat right now.
At the same time, it could be a masterstroke for somebody willing to play the long-game. City might lose two or three of its best players but the overall strength of its squad should ensure that the ship doesn't just sink. Even without De Bruyne, Sterling and Sane, City could still be the second best team in England. It says a lot about the state of the league. The key for whoever is in charge is to make sure that no mass exodus takes place. They must keep the bulk of the squad together and invest money wisely.
Somebody with a long-term vision could oversee the next two campaigns and then build a dynasty in Manchester. It's like buying a house, doing it up and reaping the rewards. Still, it's tough to see the brightness if City's lawyers cannot muster a successful appeal.