Man City vs Man United preview: Manchester derby combined XI based on player salaries

Manchester City v Manchester United preview

Manchester City are set to welcome Manchester United to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 

It's a Manchester derby that may have been billed as a potential title decider shortly after the turn of the year, but United's slump in form combined with City's unrelenting winning streak have taken the sting out of the race for the Premier League. 

Pep Guardiola's side have opened up a 14-point gap at the summit of the division, making this an absolute must-win for the Red Devils to grasp on to any semblance of hope of toppling their local rivals. 

Despite the apparent gulf in class between the two giants, United have won three of the last four Manchester derbies at the Etihad Stadium across all competitions. 

That statistic will give United a sense of optimism ahead of the clash but City's indomitable run of form will equally be a major concern for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he attempts to stifle a free-scoring, fluid and devastatingly clinical outfit. 

Given the respective forms of both sides, it seemed rather nonsensical to produce a combined XI based on performances. 

Rather than channelling our inner Tim Sherwood and selecting a combined XI consisting solely of City players, here at GIVEMESPORT we've produced an alternative starting line-up based on salaries. 

Right now the only United player who could build a credible case for selection into a performance-based combined XI is Bruno Fernandes, but six players from Old Trafford earn selection for the highest-paid line-up. 

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Using data provided by Spotrac, we've created an XI of the highest earners across the two Manchester giants who collectively earn £130.7m-per-year. 

The selection reveals just how wisely the two clubs are utilising their financial resources. 

United players take up three of the five available slots in defensive positions. Luke Shaw's £150k-per-week salary earns him the nod over the much vaunted Joao Cancelo, while City's stoic defensive duo of John Stones and Ruben Dias both earn considerably less than Harry Maguire. 

Aymeric Laporte sneaks into the side by virtue of performance-based selection as his salary equal to Victor Lindelof's. 

Elsewhere, the presence of Anthony Martial, who earns £250k-per-week, is bound to raise a few eyebrows given his placid approach to the game and perceived lack of determination to prove he's the Thierry Henry-esque talent many predicted him to become. 

The France international joins Raheem Sterling, the third-highest player in the side, and Sergio Aguero in an electric forward line on paper. 

Collectively they earn £780k-per-week but they've managed to score just 13 league goals between them this season. 

Take a look at the line-up in full below. 

GK: David De Gea - £375k p/w

RB: Kyle Walker - £110k p/w

CB: Harry Maguire - £190k p/w

CB: Aymeric Laporte - £120k p/w

LB: Luke Shaw - £150k p/w

CDM: Fernandinho - £150k p/w

CM: Kevin De Bruyne - £350k p/w

CM: Paul Pogba - £290k p/w

RW: Raheem Sterling - £300k p/w

LW: Anthony Martial - £250k p/w

CF: Sergio Aguero - £230k p/w

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