Man City transfer verdict: Guardiola must fix dodgy defence

New manager steals the headlines but a dry January means City must rely on what they've got for rest of the season

Pep Guardiola
The forthcoming arrival of Pep Guardiola has blown away City's rivals
(Image credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Manchester City didn't do much in the way of business during the January transfer window but they blew away their rivals on Deadline Day with the announcement that Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola would be taking over as manager at the end of the season.

While the news was not a surprise, the timing was and earned the club all the headlines as the transfer window slammed shut. It may also act as an incentive for current manager Manuel Pellegrini and his squad as they chase silverware on four fronts in the coming months.

"It has long been expected that Pellegrini would leave at the end of the season; for that reason, he was never going to spend fortunes," says the Daily Telegraph. "Guardiola is the truly stellar signing by any club in this window."

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But once the dust has settled, it is worth noting how many players are suddenly being linked with City. There is room for fresh blood at the Etihad.

"At least one central defender would have been welcome, given Vincent Kompany’s ongoing injury problems and the unreliable form of Eliaquim Mangala, Nicolas Otamendi and Martin Demichelis," says The Guardian.

It's the back four that worries ESPN, too. "If it's the defence that costs them in any of the four remaining competitions, they might look back on January as a time when they should have taken action," it says.

Players in: Anthony Caceres (Central Coast Mariners, undisclosed)

Players out: Anthony Caceres (Melbourne City, loan), Patrick Roberts (Celtic, loan), Enes Unal (NAC Breda - loan), Bruno Zuculini (AEK Athens - loan)

Man City transfer news: Guardiola deal steals the headlines

1 February

Just as they did on the final day of the 2008 summer transfer window, Manchester City have stolen the headlines with a dramatic announcement.

Back in 2008, it was the revelation that the club had been taken over by the Abu Dhabi royal family that stunned football. This time round, it is the confirmation that footballing royalty is heading to the Etihad in the form of Pep Guardiola.

The former Barcelona manager is in the final year of his reign at Bayern Munich and it has been confirmed that he will be heading to Manchester to take over from Manuel Pellegrini at the end of the season.

The timing of the announcement may have come as a surprise, says Phil McNulty of the BBC, but the content has not.

"What is beyond question, however, is that this is the most powerful statement of intent from City's Abu Dhabi owners that they intend to construct a club to stand alongside any in world football," he adds.

The news coincided with some underwhelming transfer developments at the club, with loan deals for youngsters Bruno Zuculini, to AEK Athens, and Enes Unal, who is off to NAC Breda, the only news to report.

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Man City transfer news: £50m Stones race this summer

01 February

It looks like being a quiet Deadline Day at the Etihad, with Manchester City focusing on their summer plans rather than bringing in reinforcements on the final day of the transfer window.

But there could be some significant moves this summer, what with Pep Guardiola expected to take over as manager, while the Daily Mirror says the team are "emerging as the hot favourites" to sign Everton's John Stones for a fee of £50m.

Chelsea are also interested in the 21-year-old defender, but City are confident of seeing off their domestic rivals. The player is reportedly keen on remaining in England for the time being, meaning efforts to lure him to Spain are likely to fail.

City are also eyeing Bologna midfielder Amadou Diawara, reports Sport Witness, picking up on the claims of Italian website CalcioMercato.

The teenager only joined Bologna in the summer, but his displays in midfield have attracted the attention of clubs including City and Bayern Munich, who are preparing an offer of €10m (£7.6m) in the summer.

Two players could leave City on Deadline Day, but only temporarily. According to the Daily Mail, midfielder Bruno Zuculini will spend the second half of the season on loan to AEK Athens while winger Patrick Roberts is also nearing a loan move to Celtic.

Man City transfer news: Everton star Ross Barkley on the radar

28 January

Manchester City broke Everton's hearts with victory in the Capital One Cup semi-final and could be set to add insult to injury by poaching one of the Toffees' finest players.

Ross Barkley, who scored a screamer on Wednesday night, appears to be the subject of a summer bid from City, claims the Manchester Evening News.

"City have watched him closely and made an approach in the summer of 2014. They were put off then by the asking price but he's now moved up a level," says the paper, which adds City could be "renewing their interest" in the young England star.

Hopes that young American defender Matt Miazga would help shore up City's leaking rearguard have been dashed after the 20-year-old centre-back completed a £3.5m move from New York Red Bulls to Chelsea, says the Daily Mail.

City were one of several clubs to watch him, after he was identified as a star of the future by their sister club New York City. But in the end, the London side appear to have won the race to sign him.

Striker Robert Lewandowski is also set to snub City, reports the Independent. The paper claims that despite interest from several Premier League clubs, the Bayern Munich hitman will opt instead to join Real Madrid, although the deal will not go through until the Spanish club's transfer embargo is lifted in 2017.

Man City transfer news: Miazga lined up to replace Mangala?

27 January

Standard Liege boss Daniel van Buyten could be heading back in Manchester as he plans a raid for erratic Man City defender Eliaquim Mangala.

Earlier in the month Liege signed goalkeeper Victor Valdes on loan from United, and now the Manchester Evening News says the Belgian club is after the City centre-back.

The paper says that Mangala "has been an inconsistent performer" since his big-money £42m move from Porto in 2014, and City are allegedly frustrated by his displays. Belgian media says Van Buyten hopes to take the French defender on loan until the summer with a view to a more permanent arrangement if both parties are happy.

However, the MEN says that it's "unthinkable" that the Sky Blues would allow him to leave the club this month because of the injury to Vincent Kompany and so Liege might have to wait till the summer for Mangala.

But could City have a ready-made replacement for Mangala already lined up? According to the Daily Mail they are one of several clubs chasing New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga, who is expected to be a Premier League player by the time the transfer window shuts next week.

The 20-year-old centre back from New Jersey, who has a Polish passport but has chosen to represent the US, is the "hottest young star in US football" and will only cost £3.5m, says the Mail, which notes that he has been compared to Jaap Stam.

Man City transfer news: Guardiola key in Stones scramble

25 January

According to the Sunday Times the summer "transfer scramble" for Everton defender John Stones will be "unprecedented for an English player".

Manchester City appear to have barged their way to the front of the queue for the 21-year-old, although the paper claims that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea are in the hunt while Manchester United have "also asked to be kept informed about Stones' availability".

In reality, Real Madrid can be ruled out because of the 12 month transfer ban imposed on them by Fifa earlier in the month, while would an ambitious player like Stones really consider joining either Chelsea or United, neither of whom look likely to qualify for the Champions League next season?

That leaves Bayern, Barcelona and the Sky Blues to tussle for the Toffee, and the Times reckons that City "hope the lure of working" with Pep Guardiola could prove a decisive factor for Stones.

Guardiola is expected to be installed as the new City gaffer having announced his departure from Bayern in May, and it's rumoured he's already drawn up a wishlist for the City board, with Stones among the players he wants.

And another big name said to be on the Sky Blues radar is Athletic Bilbao frontman Inaki Williams. The Daily Star says the Citizens are "leading the race" for the 21-year-old, despite the fact he recently penned a new contract containing a £37.8m release clause.

Man City transfer news: Messi rules out move, Toure to quit

21 January

The Sky Blues' hopes of signing Lionel Messi have melted away like a poorly-made snowman after the Barcelona hitman pledged his future to the European champions.

As the Manchester Evening News reports, last month there were "a flurry of reports" linking City with a move for the Argentine goal machine, rumours that intensified with speculation that Pep Guardiola will take over at the Etihad this summer. Messi worked under the Spanish coach at the Camp Nou, but that doesn't seem to have influenced the striker's plans if comments made to Spanish rag Marca are anything to go by.

"I'd never play for another European club,” he told Marca. “Barcelona is my home."

But the 28-year-old did moot the prospect of returning to his homeland for a final swansong in a few years, telling Marca: "It's possible I could end my career in Argentina. Anything could happen in the future, but I want to stay here".

With spring round the corner it is that time of year when the future of Yaya Toure is once again up for discussion. As ever it is his agent, Dimitri Seluk, who has got the ball rolling, with the Daily Mirror reporting that he has announced that the former Barcelona star is "open to offers to leave Manchester City this summer".

"He won't move in January, but in the summer everything could change," Seluk told SportItalia. "We're ready to listen to every offer that will come to the table."

Man City transfer news: Bony to stay at City this month

19 January

The agent of Wilfried Bony has made it clear his client will not be leaving Manchester City in the January transfer window.

The 27-year-old Ivory Coast striker made the move from Swansea City to the Sky Blues 12 months ago but has struggled for regular game time under Manuel Pellegrini, instead acting as understudy to Sergio Aguero for much of the time, even playing second fiddle to the Argentine when he was not fully fit.

But the Daily Star reports that Francis Kacou, the agent of the 27-year-old Bony, is adamant the player wants to work his way into the first team.

"Wilfried Bony will stay at Manchester City," declared Kacou. "Everything else is just rumours. A departure this winter was never on the cards."

But on the question of whether Bony might move on at the end of the season if he's still not a regular, Kacou admitted: "We will see what happens next. This summer, the player and I will make our position clear."

Meanwhile, City's surprise Australian signing, Anthony Caceres, plucked from obscurity at Central Coast Mariners last week, will not find himself gracing the Premier League this season. Instead, ESPN reports, with no great surprise, that the 23-year-old will continue to ply his trade in Australia's A-League after being loaned out to City's sister club Down Under, Melbourne City.

Man City transfer news: West Ham starlet set for Etihad

18 January

Manchester City are once again eyeing young English talent and have reportedly set their sights on West Ham teenager Reece Oxford, described by The Sun as a "prodigy".

The paper claims that City scouts "have watched the accomplished 17-year-old" three times in recent weeks and they like what they see of the player who made his senior at the start of this season aged just 16.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool are also believed to be tailing the centre-half, who will have two years left on his contract come this summer. Though West Ham gaffer Slaven Bilic is apparently "desperate" to keep Oxford at Upton Park, the Sun says the Citizens "are ready to test the Hammers' mettle with a bid".

According to the Daily Mail City are also "tracking" Athletic Bilbao sharpshooter Inaki Williams. The 21-year-old, who has scored ten goals in 21 games this season, has been scouted by the Sky Blues recently, impressing head of recruitment Gary Worthington to such an extent that they will table a meaty bid knowing that they face competition for Williams from Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Man City transfer news: Stones and Vardy on Guardiola list

15 January

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Sky Blues are planning for a summer shake up in anticipation of Pep Guardiola's arrival.

The Spaniard is widely expected to replace Manuel Pellegrini as boss and that spells bad news for Eliaquim Mangala and Wilfried Bony. The pair will be offloaded to make some space in the dressing room for, among others, Everton defender John Stones and Leicester City's Jamie Vardy.

The Telegraph says City have turned their attention to the Foxes frontman after admitting defeat in their attempts to sign Thomas Muller from Bayern Munich and Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

In addition Martin Demichelis's contract won't be renewed when it expires in June and the 35-year-old defender is likely to be replaced by Aymeric Laporte, the Athletic Bilbao blocker who has a £37m release clause in his contract, and is said to be highly prized by Guardiola.

In the short term City have agreed a deal to sign Australian midfielder Anthony Caceres, reports the Manchester Evening News.

The 23-year-old midfielder joins from the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League and is expected to be loaned out to another club for the rest of the season.

There has been speculation that Cacares may not even make it out of Australia, and could end up playing for Melbourne City, which is owned by the City Football Group, which also owns Man City and New York City.

Man City transfer news: Sergio Aguero out, Lionel Messi in?

14 January

Troubling news for the Sky Blues with the Manchester Evening News reporting claims in Spanish rag Marca that Sergio Aguero will be back in Argentina by the end of next season.

The paper says that the South American sharpshooter "has not hidden the fact" that he would like to finish his career in Argentina, and Hector Maldonado, the secretary general at Aguero's boyhood club, Independiente, has told the ever-reliable Spanish paper: "Sergio Aguero will be playing for Independiente in 2017."

It's a bullish claim given that the 27-year-old Aguero penned a five-year extension with City in the summer of 2014 worth a cool £150,000-a-week, and if he is to leave Independiente would need to match those wages.

However, every cloud has a silver lining, and it could be that City swap one Argentine for another, for the MEN also reports that City are 5-1 favourites to land Lionel Messi if he ever leaves Barcelona.

The paper explains that the expected arrival of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad "is seen as being pivotal to Messi making the move".

A more realistic target for City this month is midfielder Roberto Soriano of Sampdoria. The 24-year-old has impressed current manager Manuel Pellegrini, but he could have to battle his City predecessor Roberto Mancini, who is keen on bringing the player to Inter Milan.

According to Talksport, Soriano is on "City's radar after an impressive rise in Italy since his move from Bayern Munich's youth team in 2009".

Man City transfer news: Sane sparks Barcelona bidding war

13 January

The battle to sign Leroy Sane could become a bidding war between two of the world's richest clubs after Barcelona joined Manchester City in the hunt to sign the 20-year-old Schalke winger.

City, long tipped to land the young German, are now glancing nervously over their shoulder as Barcelona prepare to make a late charge, reports Talksport.

It's been reported in the German press that City are willing to meet Schalke's asking price of £40m but Barcelona could offer an even bigger sum, such is their determination to land one of Europe's top talents.

Meanwhile Manuel Pellegrini has addressed the speculation surrounding the future of Wilfried Bony after talk of a move back to the Valleys for the Ivory Coast star, with Wales Online talking up the prospect of "a shock return to the Liberty Stadium" for the former Swansea striker.

The Ivorian striker quit the Swans for City 12 months ago but has struggled to break into the starting XI at the Etihad and that's led to rumours of a swift departure from Manchester. But when the question was put to Pellegrini on Tuesday, the City gaffer scotched the exit talk, and also appeared to dismiss hopes of any new arrivals at the Etihad this month.

"It's just speculation. Nothing more," he said. "I don't talk about rumours. Our squad is complete. Nobody will come and nobody will go out."

Man City transfer news: Belgian link could lure Eden Hazard

11 January

Two's company but three's another transfer rumour, at least that's the case with Eden Hazard according to The Sun, which claims that Manchester City "will join the fight" for the Belgian playmaker when, as expected, he leaves Chelsea in the summer.

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have already been strongly linked with the £80m-rated forward, and the Sun says that the presence at the Etihad of compatriots Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne "will play a key role" in the Citizens attempt to land the 25-year-old.

The fact that Pep Guardiola is also tipped to be the next boss of the Sky Blues could also play a part, but the Sun warns City that Zinedine Zidane's recent appointment as Real coach may tempt Hazard to head to Spain.

The possible arrival of Hazard may not be enough to persuade striker Wilfried Bony to extend his stay at the Etihad, says the Sun, as he eyes up a return to his former club Swansea.

Bony has made his frustration clear after manager Manuel Pellegrini picked an unfit Sergio Aguero ahead of him last month, but he is still regarded as the main man in South Wales, and the struggling Swans may try and lure him back to the Valleys this month.

Man City transfer news: Piccini lined up to replace Zabaleta

07 January

After another shoddy defensive display, this time during their League Cup semi-final defeat to Everton, it should come as no surprise that Manchester City are said to be take a keen interest in Real Betis full back Cristiano Piccini.

According to the Daily Mail, the 23-year-old has impressed the Citizens' scouts and they see his defensive skills as the perfect fit for the Etihad back-line. Everton are also said to be interested in Piccini, as they look to replace Seamus Coleman, who is expected to be lured from Goodison Park in the near future. But it's City in pole position with Piccini being groomed to replace Pablo Zabaleta who is tipped to join Inter Milan at the end of the season.

Anthony Caceres has emerged as a surprise January transfer target for City, reports Reuters. The 23-year-old Australian midfielder currently plies his trade with the Central Coast Mariners, who are currently propping up the A-League table.

"The uncapped 23-year-old was dropped by the A-League basement dwellers last week and had been expected to move overseas but not to a club of the magnitude of the four-times English champions who have a squad filled with global talent," says Reuters.

City would have had no trouble meeting the release clause in his contract, however. The fee agreed between the two clubs is said to be A$500,000 - around £240,000.

Man City transfer news: no Sane, but Messi could join Guardiola

6 January

They may be mad for Leroy Sane but the Daily Express reports that the Citizens won't be getting their hands on the Schalke attacking midfielder this month.

City and Liverpool have both been linked with the 19-year-old in recent weeks with rumours that £40m would be enough to grease the Germans' palms. But when Schalke chairman Clemens Tonnies was asked by local rag Recklinghauser Zeitung about Sane's future, he replied: "We've decided Leroy isn't for sale. And the player does not want to leave Schalke. So that’s not an issue."

The news will be a blow to Manuel Pellegrini who has been tracking Sane since he made his senior Schalke debut in 2014, and who in November won his first cap for Germany.

However, with Pep Guardiola set to take over at the Etihad in the summer many City fans are more interested in what the summer has in store and the Express gives them something to dream about.

It claims that once Guardiola is on board, City will “pull out all the stops to bring in Barcelona superstar Messi in a world-record transfer in an attempt to take the club to the next level with the best manager and best player in the world working in tandem again”.

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