Five Defenders on City’s Radar

Pellegrini has succeeded in liberating City’s attacking talent this season, with the likes of Aguero, Silva and Nasri looking back to their best or thereabouts. The reverse effect has been City’s steely defence, molded into the Premier League’s meanest unit by Roberto Mancini, looking suddenly vulnerable.

City have already conceded 10 goals this season, more than 1/3 the total amount conceded in the title-winning campaign of 2011/12. Several defenders appear to be having difficulties adjusting to Pellegrini’s high defensive line with long balls over the top in particular posing problems. Kompany’s persistent injuries haven’t helped either, the defence often looking in disarray in his absence.

City have yet to splash out on a bonafide world-class defender since the takeover, preferring to invest in potential (Boateng, Nastasić) or Premier League experience (Lescott, Kolo). And the policy has for the most part worked, with Kompany (signed days before the takeover) maturing into one of the very best, Lescott proving an able partner for him, and Nastasić showing the potential to be among the elite in future.

The left-back position is also suddenly an issue, with Gaël Clichy in very poor form so far this season and questions remaining over Aleksandar Kolarov’s future, despite a remarkable improvement under Pellegrini.

It may simply be a case of needing time to adjust to the high line for some, but it hasn’t stopped City looking at possible new recruits. Here are five names on City’s radar.

Diego Godín (27, CB, Atlético Madrid)

Godín has probably been the best defender in La Liga for the past year and is the heartbeat of Atlético’s excellent backline. Last season the Atlético defence, led by Godín, conceded only 31 goals — fewer than La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid along with every Premier League club. Godín’s excellent form has continued this season with the composed Uruguyan entering his prime at 27. After failing in a £20million effort to lure Pepe away from Real Madrid this summer, City looked instead to Atlético and signed Martín Demichelis for a small fee. Demichelis looks like he could be a shrewd signing for City, but an attempt to use the Pepe money for Godín may have been wiser.

The chances?

City have been linked with Godín several times in the past few years, most recently in September when it was reported that an approach from City could take place in January or next summer. With Atlético putting up an impressive challenge to Barcelona and Real Madrid, and almost certain to qualify for the Champions League knockout phase, the chances of a January sale are unlikely. However, City could target him next summer if they are willing to wait that long for defensive reinforcements.

Eliaquim Mangala (22, CB, FC Porto)

French defender Mangala is on the radar of top clubs across Europe and for good reason. A phenomenal athlete and physical presence at the back for Porto, he initially struggled after signing from Standard Liège but has rapidly improved and cut the reckless side out of his defending. Mangala told A Bola in Portugal last month that City had been interested in signing him prior to the close of the summer transfer window, but nothing had ever been close. Chelsea, United, Arsenal, PSG, Monaco and Barcelona are also credited with an interest in Mangala, a testament to just how highly rated he is.

The chances?

City have a strong interest in Mangala but consider him overpriced at £35million. Porto always hold out for top dollar and with PSG and Monaco willing to pay whatever it takes to bolster their squads, that could complicate things for City. Another complication is Mangala’s switch to Jorge Mendes as his agent. Mendes also happens to be the agent of Jose Mourinho and has delivered big names to Mourinho in the past, while practically dictating Monaco’s transfer policy during the summer. Signing Mangala appears far more difficult now for City than it would have been a couple of months ago. City have long been scouting fellow French defender Kurt Zouma, and the 19-year-old could be a cheaper alternative.

Nicolás Otamendi (25, CB, FC Porto)

Mangala’s defensive partner Otamendi, has also emerged as a City target in recent weeks. The Argentine international has been having an excellent season for Porto at the back and is another on the radar of top European sides. Not the tallest central defender at 6 feet tall, Otamendi is still pretty good in the air but his real strengths are tackling and positioning. He is capable of organising and leading a backline, something City have been lacking in Kompany’s absence. Otamendi is struggling to win over Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella and may feel a move to the Premier League will help his national team chances, much like Fernandinho who was overlooked by Brazil boss Scolari while at Shakhtar.

The chances?

According to the Portuguese press, City dispatched scout Rob Newman to the Porto vs. Sporting game on Sunday to watch Otamendi, who partnered Mangala at the back in a 3-1 win. This would suggest that Otamendi is on the market despite claims earlier this month that Chelsea had finalised a deal to sign him next season at the request of Mourinho. The chances of City or anyone else signing Otamendi (or Mangala) in January could improve if Porto fail to qualify from their Champions League group, where they currently sit in 3rd, a point behind Zenit. Otamendi would be a suitable signing for City, but as always with Porto would not come cheap at around £25million.

Péricles “Pecks” Pereira (20, CB, Gil Vicente FC)

“Who?”. That was my response when this link surfaced and probably yours. City have a partnership with Portuguese side Gil Vicente, which included one of City’s obscure Ghanaian horde, Thomas Agyiri, spending last season on loan there. That would give them priority on Pecks, who is also being monitored by FC Porto, Inter Milan and Tottenham. Little is known about Pecks other than by avid followers of Portugal’s Primeira Liga, but he is described as a highly-rated defender with the potential to develop into a top player. City have sent scouts to watch Pecks and the reports have been positive, but whether a bid will follow remains a mystery.

The chances?

If City want Pecks, they will get him. The working relationship with Gil Vicente and the player’s reported desire to join City would ensure a smooth deal at a reasonable price, most likely under £10million. The question is whether City are serious enough to follow up with a bid. Is he is ready for Premier League football or would he be farmed out on loan? City may prefer a defender ready to step in immediately.

Luke Shaw (18, LB, Southampton)

Southampton’s academy continues to churn out an incredibly high standard of young footballer, with left-back Luke Shaw following in the footsteps of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain to graduate the Saints Academy and make a big impression in the Premier League. Shaw only turned 18 in July and has already put in accomplished performances against some of England’s top clubs, showing an impressive level of attacking and defensive ability. Being English, that makes Shaw an attractive potential signing, so it should come as no surprise that City, United, Arsenal and Chelsea have all been linked with the teenager.

The chances?

With left-back a position City are likely to review in the near future, Shaw would be an ideal signing. A chance to boost the homegrown quota while at the same time signing one of England’s best young prospects sounds great, doesn’t it? Easier said than done, though. Most signs point to Shaw snubbing rival interest in future to join his boyhood club Chelsea, where he would be a natural successor to Ashley Cole. City could make an attempt to sway him, but it may be in vain. Shaw will inevitably move to a Premier League giant, but it won’t be until summer at the very earliest. City have been monitoring Swansea’s impressive young left-back Ben Davies and he could be a good alternative to Shaw.


3 thoughts on “Five Defenders on City’s Radar

  1. Like I said before: Godin would be perfect! Shaw will be a big, big player but there are some other good options like Davies, Oczipka or Juan Bernat!

  2. Pingback: thatkunaguero | The City Weekend Summary (November 2 & 3)

  3. Pingback: thatkunaguero | The City Summary (November 4, 2013)

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