It’s fair to say of late that defensively Manchester City’s defender’s have had a pretty rough ride and haven’t been at there best. The obvious answer is that they miss the leadership of Vincent Kompany. The commanding Belgian centre back was pivotal in the two title winning campaigns but his well documented injuries and subsequent absence from the team has highlighted the issues when they are without him. I also think that they haven’t been helped by the suspension of Fernandinho due to his red card in the game with Chelsea. His ability to be firm in the tackle and mop up in front of the defence has been missed there’s no doubt as Fernando, his replacement in the team, is not at the same level as his Brazilian colleague and leaves the central area on the pitch far to open at times. Nicholas Otamendi is improving slightly the more he plays but I always fear that he has to many mistakes in him and at times his decision making is questionable. John Stones should be Guardiola’s focal point and the defence should be built around him but he needs guidance in a game and Otamedi is not that man.
When City play with three at the back it’s usually Kolorov and Otamendi either side of Stones, or Sagna and Kolorov either side of Stones when Otamendi has been suspended. Kolorov spends far too much time going forward usually ending up with a wild left footed shot on goal (or not) leaving a central midfielder to cover back which as I’ve said above could be Fernando, not what Pep wants I should imagine. Sagna is now a bit part player when either full back is suspended or injured and although Zabaleta has been a great servant to the club and still a committed player, can he get through all the football City will be playing? So is new blood needed or will Pep persevere until the summer?
So what are City’s options going forward? Let’s look at some possible signings whether they may happen or not.
After the European Championship’s in the summer Chelsea made an enquiry about Leonardo Bonnuci of Juventus, he would be the type of defender Pep would love in his side but just last week he signed a new five year deal with the Turin giants so this is a non-starter. The same applies to Dani Alves, Pep knows Alves very well from their time together at Barcelona and would have been a more than capable replacement/challenge for Zabaleta. Although in reality Alves signed for Juventus right at the end of June and Pep was employed in the July but could City have made a move sooner? Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid is a strong option and Manchester United have reportedly made enquirers with a fee of around £30 million being talked about. Could City tempt the Uruguayan to the blue half of Manchester? Mikel Balenziaga of Athletic Bilbao is 28 and is a very reliable left back and highly though if in Spain as is his club colleague and French international Aymeric Laporte who the Citizens did try to sign early last summer only for the player to sign a contract with the Basque outfit until 2020 with a buyout clause of €65 million but would Bilbao be tempted if City were to make an offer? Raphael Varane of Real Madrid, Mats Hummels of Bayern Munich are top class central defenders but neither clubs would be entertaining offers for them.
So who does it leave as a viable, safe, and attainable option? Step forward Thiago Emiliano da Silva, better known as Thiago Silva. The Paris Saint-Germain and Brazilian international is available on a free transfer at the end of this season and in my opinion City should look no further than the centre back who is a composed, ball playing defender who’s experience would aide John Stone’s development. The downside? He is 32, however he has shown no signs of not being able to still perform at the top level.
Whatever Guardiola’s decides, he will need to invest sooner rather than later in that Manchester City back line if they are to start winning more honours.