Manchester City seen to be having something of a crisis this season, despite being comfortably second in the league, on course for the Champions League quarter finals, and already having lifted the League Cup – a campaign that would be a wild success for 88 of the other clubs in the Football League pyramid.
Liverpool’s ridiculous form this season and a collection of rather suspect performances have contributed to the idea. Manchester City are a club who demand the absolute best of themselves at all times, especially with Pep Guardiola in charge.
Should Pep stay, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see where the club need to strengthen in the summer. If the recruitment team are on form, it won’t be too long till they are back on top.
To give them a hand, we’ve taken a look at five position’s City should be looking at during the window, and the players that fit the bill.
This was nailed on, so we’ll get it out the way first. Centre-back has been City’s Achilles heel this season. Last year, they could regularly call upon Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte to form a brick wall in front of Ederson – this year, it’s been Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones. Oh dear.
The departure of Kompany left a massive hole, not just at the back but in the dressing room too, and while Laporte’s injury was unfortunate, an elite club shouldn’t have to repurpose a midfielder in defence because they don’t trust their centre-backs.
As reliable as Fernandinho is, he isn’t a centre-back, and City need to invest heavily to avoid a repeat of the numerous dropped points from this campaign.
Benfica’s colossal defender Ruben Dias is an obvious contender, who would provide steel and aerial dominance to perfectly complement Laporte’s style of play. He has recently signed a new contract with the Portuguese club which has boosted his price, but if City want him, who could stand in their way?
Inter defender Milan Skriniar is another high-profile option; he’s had a very impressive campaign in Antonio Conte’s side this campaign, while closer to home, Çağlar Söyüncü has caught everyone’s attention with his excellent displays in Leicester’s surprising season.
They certainly need more than one however, and Lewis Dunk or soon-to-be free agent Giorgio Chiellini could be ideal to provide depth.
While Joāo Cancelo has struggled in his first season at the Etihad, Kyle Walker has taken a massive step back. It looks increasingly likely, especially as off-field issues continue, that the Englishman may be on his way out of the club.
If that does prove to be the case, a new right-back will surely be an option, as City cannot afford to be caught short again.
Youcef Atal of Nice is an unknown quantity outside of France, but is one of the world’s best dribblers, and there is talk that Elseid Hysaj is looking to leave Napoli in the summer as well.
Meanwhile, City could do worse than trying to develop Norwich defender Max Aarons over the next few years.
A real problem position for the Cityzens in recent years as Benjamin Mendy’s much hyped transfer hasn’t worked out the way everyone hoped. He’s likely to be leaving in the near future.
Mendy’s injuries and inconsistency have paved the way for Oleksandr Zinchenko to come through, and the Ukrainian has impressed with some good performances. However, the Ukrainian isn’t a left-back by trade and good isn’t ever good enough for City, just ask Aleksandr Kolarov…
The match made in heaven? David Alaba was one of the players most improved by Guardiola during his spell in Bavaria, turning him from an up and coming youngster to arguably the world’s best left-back. A reunion in Manchester would be something else.
City have been linked with Nicolás Tagliafico for a while now, and the Argentine could be finally ready to leave Ajax this summer before he gets too old. José Gayà is also an option after putting in some stellar performances for Valencia in La Liga over the last few seasons.
Other options could be Real Betis full-back Alex Moreno, or Everton’s Lucas Digne who has been one of the best full-backs in England since he joined the Toffees.
The biggest issue for City is going to be the departure of David Silva this summer. Silva is arguably the club’s greatest ever player, and has shown no sign of slowing down, even at 34 years of age.
While Bernardo Silva is a phenomenal player, he prefers to be wider than his namesake, and it remains to be seen whether Phil Foden will live up to his hype, so a marquee signing must be on the cards to replace the Spaniard this summer.
The best option would be Leverkusen ace Kai Havertz. The German youngster is only 20 so would have years of service in his tank, as well as already being a quality player. City would face competition from Liverpool, and the player may choose Bayern Munich instead, but he would be a great asset in sky blue.
While not as talented as Silva, the potential in Martin Odegaard and Jack Grealish could be unlocked by a coach like Guardiola.
The final (and maybe best) option would be to convince David Silva to sign for one more year. The coronavirus pandemic has put a dampener on his swan song, and he could be persuaded to see out his career in Manchester if he feels he has unfinished business at the Etihad.
It is looking more and more likely that Leroy Sané will leave the Etihad this summer – a crying shame considering he’d be the first name on this list if he wasn’t at City already.
While Raheem Sterling has made the left wing his own, Pep is known for his regular rotation and another top-level option for that flank will be required if/when Sané departs, with Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez the current incumbents on the right.
The name most heavily linked is Mikel Oyarzabal of Real Sociedad. He has been the standout star as the Basque club look to secure Champions League football for the first time since 2013/14. He can also play on either flank, something Guardiola loves.
While the return of Jadon Sancho is a pipe dream at this stage, more realistic targets might include Juve’s Douglas Costa or coveted Valencia wide man Ferran Torres, who can operate on both flanks.
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