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In focus: The right-back targets Manchester City could sign to replace Zabaleta and Sagna

As the nights draw in, the winter Premier League ball appears and the fixtures begin to pile up it isn’t long before the attention changes from what is happening on the pitch to that off the pitch, more specifically the winter transfer window. With half the season played heading into the New Year, clubs throughout the Premier League should surely know their strongest squad, their weaknesses and both the areas and positions in which they need to improve. Whether or not that means such a move therefore happens in January with a player joining that completely ticks all the boxes remains to be seen. Do not be surprised however if you happen to see managers such as Pep Guardiola attempting to beat the summer rush and inflated prices with attempts at least, to improve Manchester City’s playing squad.

Despite being terrific performers when at their best, undeniably there are question marks surrounding the long-term fitness and future of right-backs Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna. Whilst it is unlikely Pep will move for two defenders straight away, the right side of defence is evidently a cause for future concern.

With this in mind, we take a look at three players who the club could realistically sign in either transfer window during 2017.

Villarreal v Monaco: UEFA Champions League
1) Mario Gaspar (Villarreal)

Fresh from his 2016 Puskas Award nomination for his scorpion-kick goal scored during Spain’s November 2015 friendly against England, Mario Gaspar could be the answer to Manchester City’s defensive problems. In a fine run of form both for club side Villarreal, Mario Gaspar’s high calibre performances have certainly not gone unnoticed this season with some of the biggest clubs across Europe, including Manchester City, heavily rumoured to be tracking the 26 year-old Spanish defender. Gaspar, having spent his entire footballing career at Villarreal making his way up through the youth ranks before progressing through his senior career into the first-team in 2009, may well be at an age where he is playing at the peak of his abilities, especially after breaking into the Spanish national team late last year.

Yet in order to fully cement his position as a potential future right-back for a Spanish national team undergoing serious redevelopment following Euro 2016, as well as the personal challenge of testing himself at the very highest level elsewhere in Europe, it seems plausible that Villarreal may well find themselves tempted to sell Gaspar whilst his stock is at its highest. Not only could it be in the best interests of the player but the club too should a big money offer from the likes of Manchester City come their way. Contracted until 2019, whilst it is difficult to put a price on an individual in the current climate, reports would suggest that Gaspar is valued at around £15-20m and at such a price, could prove to be an absolute steal.

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