City’s almost perfect half-season (if not for the draw against Everton and the Champions League loss against Shakhtar) has taken a toll on Guardiola’s lot. The Spaniard must now deal with a massive upset when it comes to the defensive line. Kompany, Stones, Mendy and Delph (who was used as a left-back for about a dozen games) are out and have no return dates set sometime soon.
Despite having such a strong advantage over title rivals and getting one of the easiest adversaries in the Champions League (FC Basel), some safety measures need to be taken to avoid struggling during the end of the season.
It would be a good moment to spend money on one or two center-backs especially seeing that many teams are willing to sell right now and not wait for the end of the season.
Seeing that money is not a problem, it all comes down to who is best suited for Guardiola’s philosophy.
He would need someone with excellent passing skills, quick feet and an excellent understanding of complex strategies. He would also need to be a fast learner given the fact that he needs to play right away – early February would be a good guess. Last but not least, he would need to be a team player just as Fernandinho explains in City’s latest tweet:
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 28, 2017
After Virgil van Dijk decided to go with Liverpool for an alleged record breaking transfer fee of £75m, City have apparently directed their attention to Real Sociedad center-back Iñigo Martínez. The 26-year-old who extended his contract with the Spanish side back in 2016, has been the defender to watch in this season’s La Liga. He is not only versatile – being able to play as a left-back – but is also the kind of player Guardiola likes: good with the ball, fast and useful when it comes to set-pieces. He is also Spanish which would help him integrate faster if the transfer takes place.
According to The Telegraph, Martinez has a £28 million release clause stuck to his contract meaning that there will not be too much time spent on negotiations. The only issue with him is that his injury history shows a lot of muscle problems. He totals over 100 days in the infirmary only because of this. The Premier League is the most demanding league in the world so this aspect of his profile should definitely be analysed in dept.
There is another option but it’s only a temporary one. 29-year-old Jonny Evans is also rumored to be on City’s radar. The former Manchester United player who is now WBA’s captain has had an excellent season and could be a strong replacement for Stones or Kompany. A struggling West Brom side is unlikely to let him leave at this point though as they are desperate to avoid relegation.
It remains to be seen what will happen as there are some other options on the market. Unfortunately, few of those players are likely to leave their clubs in the winter.