Manchester City: 6 Realistic Transfer Targets for January
Manchester City, as one of the richest clubs in the world, if not the richest, will always be linked with top players coming up to the transfer window. But as every fan knows, there is a big difference between realistic targets and sensationalist potential signings.
In fairness, since Roberto Mancini took over, December 19, 2009 if you're interested, he has always splashed out during the transfer period.
Having spent some £269 million on just 23 players over the course of six transfer windows so far, it's fair to say that the club and Mancini will probably spend big again come January 2013, especially after being knocked out of the Champions League.
Here, Bleacher Report looks at six realistic transfer targets for the Citizens in January.
Read on and don't forget to leave your comments and suggestions in the section below.
1. Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur) Value: £14 Million
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Kyle Walker, at 22, is probably the best right-back in the Premier League today, never mind England.
The Tottenham Hotspur flyer has improved each and every year he has been at White Hart Lane since joining from Sheffield United in 2009.
His capture would allow Roberto Mancini to move Micah Richards inside towards his natural position at centre-half while allowing the release of Kolo Toure and Maicon at the same time.
Walker is excellent going forward and has proven his attacking capabilities against the best the Premier League has to offer. However, he is still prone to defensive lapses which sometimes allow swift counter attacks to break in behind his forward runs.
Mancini, being Italian, and a manager who has improved all his defenders would be able to work wonders on the Spurs man who could turn out to be one of the best right-backs the Premier League has ever produced.
City would be able to tempt Daniel Levy, and Spurs, into selling one of their prize assets because the Lilywhites have Kyle Naughton as backup. The ex-Sheffield United defender who joined Spurs as part of the initial Walker deal is improving and gradually becoming a first-team player and potential replacement for Walker at right-back.
2. Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) Value: £12 Million
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It's no secret that Manchester City have problems at left-back.
This season, Gael Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta have all been tried in the left-back berth. On occassion Roberto Mancini has even been known to try to change the formation, to a 3-5-2, to hide the paucity of their penetration down the left.
The capture of Kieran Gibbs could fix that in one fell swoop.
The 23-year-old is the future of England at left-back and is the heir apparent to Ashley Cole, and should be challenging both Cole and Leighton Baines for the left berth come Brazil 2014.
Defensively, he has huge room to improve but playing with guys of the quality of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Jolean Lescott and Matija Nastasic he would be sure to improve rapidly.
3. Dennis Praet (Anderlecht) Value: £8 Million
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Even considering the incredible conveyor belt of football talent coming out of Belgium at the moment, it is no exaggeration to say that Dennis Praet is one of the hottest talents the country has produced since Enzo Scifo.
Having been scouted by the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Inter Milan and given trials by Arsenal, it came as a huge surprise to everyone, even in Belgium, that the youth chose home-club Anderlecht as his preferred destination.
The 18-year-old is on the radar of every single top club in Europe and City would be well advised to move sooner rather than later.
Having already played 20 games this season, scoring five goals, Praet, who has represented his country at every level from U15 to U21, is a rare player in that he comes across as having an old head on young shoulders.
He is a gifted passer of the ball and reads the game beautifully for someone so young, and as his strength develops, he will surely go on to become his country's most important midfielder.
He would definitely be a signing for the future.
4. Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma) Value: £20 Million
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Despite Wesley Sneijder's rumoured availability for as little as €15 million, the player Roberto Mancini needs most to improve his team is Roma's Daniele De Rossi.
De Rossi is the midfield general that Mancini so desperately needs to orchestrate his team in matches of the highest level.
City do not possess a player capable of dictating the game from central midfield. David Silva plays too far forward, Yaya Toure is best at breaking from deep, Gareth Barry and Jack Rodwell can only break play down and, while James Milner is very disciplined, he is not a midfield general.
Over the last two seasons, City have struggled bitterly in the Champions League. The main reason for this is no midfield dictator. The same problem then affects the team in Premier League matches at the highest level, so De Rossi would be a more than welcome addition.
5. Younès Belhanda (Montpellier) Value: £12.5 Million
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The strengths of Younes Belhanda aren't well known in England but that is only down to the fact that the 22-year-old Moroccan international plies his trade with Montpellier in Ligue 1.
Belhanda is the midfield playmaker for Montpellier and, from his position behind the strikers, he tends to drift all over the final third of the field, pulling the strings for La Paillade.
He is quick, technically gifted, a superb dribbler and is highly creative with great vision and has made a habit of ghosting into the box unmarked where he can be lethal in the extreme.
For City, he would give Mancini the kind of flexibility he currently does not have with the added bonus that the young Moroccan would be a perfect apprentice for David Silva.
Belhanda would then provide cover for Silva and Samir Nasri and give Mancini the ability to change to a 4-2-3-1 formation or a 4-4-2 where the 22-year-old would be far more comfortable out wide than Nasri.
6. Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao) Value: FREE
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Manchester City have no shortage of top strikers.
Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez could play in any team in world football while Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko are as good a second-string as any manager could hope.
So, with that in mind, signing a forward in January will not be Roberto Mancini's main priority.
However, the news that Fernando Llorente is available for a free transfer in the summer may change all that.
The 27-year-old Spanish international's contract with Athletic Bilbao finishes in June and he has already alerted every top club in Europe by stating his wish to experience something new, with the possibility of the Premier League and Manchester City becoming a real viable option.
Signing Llorente in January would seem to be off the cards given his recent comments about staying with Bilbao until June.
However, negotiating his free transfer for his summer arrival is most definitely on.