Pep Guardiola has ‘urgently’ ordered sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, to get him some new defenders this summer, according to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, with full-back positions identified as a priority by the Manchester City boss.
And if Arsène Wenger does decide to leave Arsenal after this season, it could open the door for City to try again for their number one right-back target, Héctor Bellerín. The 67-year-old French tactician was an important factor in Bellerín’s decision to sign a new long-term deal at the Emirates, with Mundo Deportivo claiming that he had decided to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City before agreeing to a renewal.
Were Wenger to leave, City will try to take advantage, but so will Bellerín’s former club, FC Barcelona. Barça would love to bring back the La Masia graduate and could have the advantage, because it would be in the interest of Hector’s family to see him return to Catalonia after a long spell in England.
City have the ability to pay a superior salary and also the presence of Pep Guardiola to try and keep Bellerín away from Camp Nou, should he actually decide to move on – which the newspaper implies is heavily dependent on Wenger leaving the club.
Two other right-backs are mentioned, with journalist Francesc Aguilar boldly claiming that Txiki Begiristain offered €70 million (£59 million) for Tottenham and England right-back, Kyle Walker, which the London club rejected. Meanwhile, super-agent Jorge Mendes has offered speedy Valencia full-back, 22-year-old João Cancelo, to Manchester City. Cancelo is also known to be a target of Barcelona, with reports suggesting he could join them soon, but their interest is said to have cooled.
Even more than right-back, the left-back position needs serious work. Aleksandar Kolarov seems better as a centre-back these days, while Gaël Clichy has been woeful at times this season and is unlikely to be offered a new deal come summer time.
City are said to have two targets in mind – both familiar names in the rumour mill – and want one of them. With David Alaba impossible to snatch from Bayern Munich, his teammate, Juan Bernat, is said to be one of the left-backs identified by Guardiola, who signed the 23-year-old while at the Allianz. The other target is Valencia’s Spain under-21 international, José Luis Gayà, a player linked with many notable clubs since his emergence in 2014.
At centre-back, Virgil van Dijk remains a primary target, with the Barcelona-based newspaper reporting that Everton boss, Ronald Koeman, who wouldn’t mind the Southampton player himself, has recommended Van Dijk to Txiki Begiristain and Pep at City, and Barcelona sporting director, Roberto Fernández.