Manchester City’s central defenders situation has prompted Pep Guardiola to ask for reinforcements in that department and the club’s owners have agreed to offer him the necessary funds in January.
John Stones’ injury and Vincent Kompany’s fitness problems are worrying reasons for Pep Guardiola in a squad that otherwise seems to be the perfect one. The Catalan manager has persuaded sporting director Txiki Begiristain and club CEO Ferran Soriano about the need of a new center-back, if the team is to continue to effectively compete on all fronts for the rest of the season.
According to Goal, the two main options identified by Guardiola are Southampton’s’ Virgil Van Dijk and Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez, with Manchester City expected to sign one of them in the January transfer window.
Virgil Van Dijk seems to be the number one priority for City, who tried to bring in the Dutchman in the summer as well. However, the 26-year-old is a long-term target of Liverpool and he even agreed to join them last summer, only for the move to collapse for unknown reasons around the transfer deadline day. It is expected that Liverpool will reignite their interest in Van Dijk in January, but Manchester City are now ready to submit their own bid. The Dutch central defender is seen by Guardiola as the perfect fit for his team thanks to his ability on the ball and experience of handling high-pressure matches in Premier League.
The only issue in the case of Van Dijk is how will the player react to a rotation role, because once Kompany, Stones and Otamendi are all fit, it would be hard for him to play regularly.
On the other hand, the lack of regular first-team opportunities is not considered to be such a big problem for their other target, Inigo Martinez. The Spanish central defender would also be cheaper than Van Dijk, having a transfer release clause of €32m. However, there are concerns about the 26-year-old’s capability to immediately adjust to life in England and to handle the big matches pressure immediately.