Whilst there’s still some doubt as to Pep Guardiola’s eventual destination, there’s no doubt that his next club will be splashing the cash to meet his squad requirements. Barcelona-based daily Mundo Deportivo claim to know his priorities.
MD say that while Guardiola to City isn’t 100% done yet, there is formal draft agreement and a statement of mutual intent, unlikely to be broken given his excellent relations with City bosses Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain. Manchester United are named as a rival suitor for Pep, but his plans are said to be closer to the Etihad than Old Trafford.
21-year-old Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte has been one of La Liga’s best young players for a few years and is the first name mentioned. Tall and technical, he is a player with few weaknesses and who is adept at playing a high line. Being left-footed, it could put Eliaquim Mangala’s future in doubt if he did arrive at the Etihad. Bilbao are not known for their discounts and Laporte would cost at least €50m (£36m), but that price wouldn’t be a problem for City.
The second name on Pep’s ‘list’ is very well known to City fans. 25-year-old İlkay Gündoğan once ran circles around Yaya Touré and Javi García for Borussia Dortmund and on his day is one of Europe’s most talented midfielders. He has been stricken with injuries in the last couple of years, but has overcome a back problem and returned to prominence with Dortmund and the German national team. He was linked with the likes of Barcelona and United last summer but in the end opted to stay at the Westfalenstadion. Gündoğan has the perfect profile for a Guardiola team with his sublime passing range, and City may be needing central midfielders next summer.
Thiago Alcântara is Guardiola’s golden boy, having quit his home club of Barcelona to join up with the Catalan coach at Bayern Munich. Another technically gifted midfielder, Thiago is almost the prototype of a Pep Guardiola player. Thiago has just renewed with Bayern Munich and said he won’t be following his mentor at this time, but Mundo Deportivo believe that could change by the 2017-18 season when Thiago is 26 and entering his prime. The only question mark about Thiago is a very poor injury record, but his talent is unquestionable.
Could Gündoğan, Laporte and Thiago land at the Etihad? As always, take newspaper rumours with a pinch of salt, but they do tick all the right boxes for a Guardiola style team.