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How Manchester City cemented itself as one of the league's greatest teams

It's not all about the money - but it helps.

In the seven years since Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City, Manchester United have also spent more than £1bn on players but have not lifted the Premier League trophy.

Guardiola received it for a fifth time on Sunday.

And Chelsea's matchday squad that gave City a guard of honour on Sunday cost around £700m to assemble - just like the newly re-crowned champions.

Undoubtedly, there's the managerial genius of Guardiola to acclaim for this domination - combined with often cannier spending than rivals and the ability to overload talent in each position after 15 years of transformational Abu Dhabi investment.

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What a luxury to be able to rest 52-goal Erling Haaland ahead of FA Cup and Champions League finals and start Argentine World Cup winner Julián Álvarez in his place against Chelsea.

The players can't be faulted for being so ruthlessly dominant, especially after reeling in Arsenal to reclaim the top spot just in time.

But having a competitive league is essential for the overall product and its global appeal. Having teams abide by the rules is also essential for the integrity of the competition.

115 alleged breaches of financial rules

Four titles have now been won since the Premier League opened its investigation into alleged breaches of its financial rules which led to 115 charges against the club in February.

Read more:
Manchester City crowned Premier League champions after Arsenal lose to Nottingham Forest
VAR: Previously unseen footage and audio shows referees discussing key Premier League decisions
Constantine Hatzidakis apologises to Andy Robertson after 'elbow' with official

Among the charges, City are accused of inflating the value of sponsorships linked to the Abu Dhabi ownership, disguising income to channel more cash into the club and not fully disclosing payments to a manager.

City, who deny wrongdoing, could be deducted points or even expelled from the league.

They have already been fined in a UEFA settlement for breaching Financial Fair Play rules in 2014. They were fined again in 2020 - €10m for obstructing another UEFA investigation - while having a Champions League ban overturned.

While UEFA was ultimately time-barred from pursuing some allegations, the Premier League has been able to charge City over alleged misconduct from 2009 to 2018 and for not fully cooperating with the investigation in the five years since then.

The biggest disciplinary case in Premier League history comes as City cements its status as one of the league's greatest teams.

But footballing greatness could be tarnished by any determination of deception.

There's also the potential damage to the image of the United Arab Emirates. Owner Sheikh Mansour is vice president of the UAE and City is the flagship sporting enterprise - a sphere of soft power.

City's most important squad in the coming months could prove to be the collection of lawyers more than the treble-chasing players.