The January transfer window is now upon us and with Manchester City flying high at the top of the league, unbeaten so far this season, many are wondering if they will add to their already impressive squad. With such an incredible run of form and so much promise under manager Pep Guardiola, utilising the club’s wealth and bringing in top players hasn’t been an issue for City in some time. As many fans know, Guardiola is never fully satisfied— something more can always be done. Here are four positions Manchester City should look to bolster.
4 Positions to Bolster This Transfer Window
John Stones and Nicholas Otamendi have been incredible this season. Both have showed so much heart, determination and improvement so far this season and have been solid. John Stones was injured a couple of months ago and looks to be returning soon. The issue is who plays alongside them when they are injured?
Vincent Kompany is simply too injury prone and Eliaquim Mangala, though very fast and athletic for a defender, is simply not convincing enough when he does play. He often looks panicked with the ball and is not all that reliable in terms of one on one situations. Guardiola needs his defenders to be excellent with the ball, calm under pressure and consistently capable of dealing with counter attacks. A new centre back would give City more depth so that injuries to first team players aren’t as devastating.
The two names circulating at the moment are West Brom centre back Jonny Evans and Barcelona centre back Samuel Umtiti. Evans was heavily rumoured towards the end of last season, however, due to the 75 million pound signing of Virgil Van Dijk by Liverpool, West Brom may look to up the transfer cost. Though Evans is a solid centre back, the more exciting option is definitely Samuel Umtiti. Umtiti is only 24 years old and is a world class level defender. The high-profile nature of Umtiti is certainly what City fans are used to however as he would only be playing a back-up role, someone like Evans may be more suitable for the role.
Having only one out-and-out left back in the side was always going to be a worry for City. When Benjamin Mendy suffered a season-long injury early in the season, many were nervous. Fabian Delph has stepped up dutifully in his absence, however there are moments when it is clear he is a midfielder playing at left back.
A new left back would allow Pep to implement his game plan further by having his full backs attack. In the summer, Ryan Bertrand of Southampton and Faouzi Ghoulam were two key names mentioned. This is similar to the centre back issue as Benjamin Mendy. In the games he did play this season, he looked incredible. Being Premier League proven is always ideal, however, this also escalates the cost. For Ryan Bertrand’s asking price, and given the team at Guardiola’s disposal, a better quality full back could be bought for the same price. Will City spend big and rotate their left back options to keep the place competitive or will they sign a back-up left back?
Central Defensive Midfielder
Fernandinho is one of the unsung heroes of this City’s team success. Without him the team does not work. He protects the backline, supports De Bruyne and Silva in the midfield, and kills potential attacks. The issue is that Fernandinho is 32 years old and his role requires a very high work rate and pace. City don’t have a midfielder who can do this role apart from Fernandinho.
Looking for a younger player to fill his role will certainly be on Guardiola’s radar. One player who springs to mind is AS Monaco’s Fabinho. Fabinho proved his quality last season in the Ligue 1-winning side. With teammates Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva joining last season, it seemed Fabinho would also be on his way despite Manchester United rumours. Fabinho plays a very similar role, has proved he can do it in the Champions League and is only 24 years old. He is such a like-for-like replacement and has age on his side. If not Fabinho, someone slightly less high profile who can learn from Fernandinho and grow into the role may be looked at. Again, this is a case of adding depth, not replacing a starter.
With Gabriel Jesus expected to be out of action for two months with an injury and Sergio Aguero being as injury prone as he is, a new striker may be brought in. After selling Kelechi Iheanacho to Leicester, two strikers seemed optimistic for a full season. However, talks of signing Alexis Sanchez made it less of a worry. When Sanchez was not signed in the summer, many fans worried about Aguero and his fitness over a full season, making depth a real concern.
Securing Alexis Sanchez seems to be Pep’s one-and-only goal when looking at a new striker. Rumors have been circulating as to the fee for Sanchez. With him being in the last six months of his contract, the fee seems to have dropped considerably. Whether Arsenal look to get some money for him in January or let him go for free in the summer, either way it would certainly be a bargain.
With Sanchez deal that is strange is he is 29 years old, having Gabriel Jesus, only 20 years old, is importan. The Sanchez deal does make a lot of sense. He has played under Pep before, is very creative in the final third, and Pep has said himself that Sanchez can play any role in the final third. This deal seems to be already made up—whether it happens in January or the summer is the only factor left uncertain.
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