Blues linked with Lucas Hernandez and Virgil van Dijk
Pardon the pun but Manchester City’s squad could do with “pepping” up right now. However, the main transfer talk at the moment centres on a summer swoop for Athletico Madrid’s £20million-rated defender Lucas Hernandez.
Hernandez, known simply as Lucas, is a 20-year-old Frenchman whose La Liga experience amounts to a dozen appearances. With that in mind, Pep Guardiola is not prepared to risk throwing such a rookie into the hot-house atmosphere of the Premier League in the depths of winter, especially as the existing back four is performing so inconsistently.
Uruguayan defender Santiago Bueno is another name in the frame as Guardiola looks to bolster his defence but, at 18 years of age, he is once again probably one for the future not the here and the now.
While City are thin on the ground in terms of quality defenders, Tottenham have an embarrassment of riches at the back, especially on the right-hand side of the defence, where Kieran Trippier has shone of late. No doubt frustrated at his lack of game-time behind Kyle Walker, a move away from White Hart Lane and a return to City could be on the cards for Trippier. Spurs’ bargain buy from Burnley was a member of City’s F.A. Youth Cup-winning side but failed to make a senior appearance before moving on to Burnley in 2012.
Southampton’s imperious Virgil van Dijk is another name to have cropped up of late in heated discussions about City’s porous defence, and is likely to be watched closely by the punters for same reasons. Early 2017 promotions such as this Paddy Power free bet will no doubt attract those looking to take advantage of the Sky Blue’s defensive priorities come February, and with current odds of 9/1, this move may be getting more likely.
By contrast, City are blessed with playmakers. Nevertheless, they would not need a second invitation to put a bid in for Lionel Messi if rumours of his desire to up sticks and find a new challenge are true. The most mercurial talent the modern game has seen and five-time Ballon D’Or winner, has been with Barcelona since his early teens and is out of contract at the Nou Camp in 2018. According to reports, City’s owners have sanctioned a whopping £200m package to bring the 29-year-old to the Etihad.
It remains to be seen how close to the mark the rumours are but just the thought of Messi pulling on a sky-blue jersey is enough to excite City fans who’ve not had much to cheer about of late. They might need another fans’ favourite, too, with 33-year-old Yaya Toure entering the twilight of his career and Sergio Aguero marginalised. Toure, last month named as Bluemoon’s Player of the Month, has six months left to run on his current deal and a big-money move to the Chinese Super League has been mooted as a possible pension fund.
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl was on City’s wish-list 12 months ago, and might be so again after his agent revealed he may be willing to move on. The German international, aged 21, has matured immensely over the last 12 months and is now a mainstay of the Bundesliga giants.
City’s goalkeeper search continues to draw blanks, though, after AC Milan rejected £1.7 million offer for highly-rated stopper Alessandro Plizzari. Similarly, City have quashed rumours that their own number one, Chilean Claudio Bravo, is set for a quick return to Spain.