Three Defenders Who Manchester City Can Target In January
Manchester City have one of the strongest squads in the Premier League this season. Pep Guardiola’s side invested heavily in the summer transfer window to strengthen their squad in a number of key areas.
Goalkeeper Ederson Moraes was signed early in the summer, along with attacker Bernardo Silva. Later in the window, the Citizens went on to bolster their full-back areas with the signings of Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy. However, they did miss out on two of their key targets, as they failed to capture Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal and defender Jonny Evans from West Bromwich Albion.
While City’s attack is top notch (ask Jurgen Klopp!), the centre-back issue still remains a problematic one for the Citizens. With just Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as their senior centre-halves along with the unreliable Eliaquim Mangala, things are not going to be very easy, especially with Guardiola looking to use a three-man defence.
To hand him further blow, captain Kompany has suffered another injury – the problematic calf once again, leaving Guardiola with a difficult proposition. Strengthening his options in the central defence department in January becomes a must for the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona manager and here are three defenders he could look to spend on in the winter window.
Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad)
The 26-year old Spanish centre-half from Real Sociedad was linked with a move to City in the summer, but with Barcelona coming in with an interest, the move collapsed. Now, however, with the Catalans not signing him, Guardiola could look at him as a serious option.
Martinez is someone who Guardiola will have seen plenty of during his Barcelona days. Last season, Martinez featured 40 times for Sociedad, scoring 4 and setting up 5 more. He may not be the biggest defender, but is strong in the air and is a very good reader of the game. What would appeal more to Guardiola is that Martinez is left-footed and can play with the ball at his feet, fitting his system well. Add to that, he can play as a left-back as well. With Benjamin Mendy as the only recognised left-back in the squad (Danilo is naturally a right-back), the Spain international will come in handy.
Malang Sarr (OGC Nice)
The 18-year old centre-back has risen rapidly in the ranks at Nice and played a pivotal part in their successful campaign last season, leading to interest from the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City. He went on to make 32 appearances for the club, finishing up with that solitary goal and two assists. He has also played six times already this season.
Sarr has shown that he is extremely comfortable in both, a four-man defence and a three-man backline as well. On a few occasions, he has been used as a left-back too. Physically so strong for someone his age, the France U-21 international has displayed good maturity and reads the game so well. Someone who likes to get on the ball and be involved in the build-up play, he can pick out long passes from deep areas in order to start counter-attacks. He could be a long-term solution for the Citizens’ issues at the back.
Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough)
The 24-year old Middlesbrough centre-half was also a subject of strong interest for the Citizens over the summer, but they did not make a move. However, an offer in the winter window should definitely be given a thought by Guardiola.
Gibson was Boro’s best performer in a poor season that ended in relegation last time around. The 24-year old did not miss a single Premier League game last term and put in some seasoned displays at the heart of the Teessiders’ defence. He finished the campaign with 41 appearances in all competitions, scoring one and setting up one more. He has played 5 times in the second-tier this term, scoring a goal.
Gibson has demonstrated excellent reading and awareness at the heart of the defence and at the same time, he has also shown that he can pick his teammates out accurately from the back, with a pass completion rate of 85.9% so far. Able to slot in at left-back if need be, he has the potential to become one of the best defenders in England. Guardiola could have a star in the making at his hands, if he brings Gibson to the Etihad.