Roberto Mancini is still looking to splash the cash at Manchester City.
Since being taken over by Sheik Mansour in 2008, Manchester City have spent a fortune in the transfer market and yet they still look likely to be doing more business in the coming months.
City currently find themselves six points behind their arch rivals, Manchester United, who currently top the Premier League table. They have also been eliminated from the Champions League. The team is looking far less coherent than when they won the title in such dramatic circumstances back in May.
With the January transfer window almost upon us, we look at five players who have been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium and who would fit right in among their legions of superstars.
Fernando Llorente could be a bargain in January.
With Mario Balotelli embroiled in a dispute with Manchester City and speculation building as to how long Edin Dzeko will be content with his role as a super-sub, Roberto Mancini could be tempted to bid for another striker in the January transfer window.
City are more used to shopping at the top end of the transfer market these days than the bargain basement, but there is one player available in the coming transfer window who has a foot in both camps.
The Spanish international Fernando Llorente will see his contract with Athletic Bilbao expire in the summer, fueling talk that the Basque outfit will be tempted to cash in on him in January. Last week, John Edwards of the Daily Mail reported that Llorente was keen on a switch to the Premier League.
Signing a player of Llorente’s quality on the cheap would allow City some flexibility as they try to offload Mario Balotelli.
The powerful forward with a silky touch could thrive in the robust environment of the Premier League. What's more, he would provide a muscular presence that would contrast with the more impish talents of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez.
David Villa still has the talent to shine in the Premier League.
Alternatively, Manchester City could turn to Barcelona to add more cutting edge to their attack.
Over the weekend, the Sunday People linked City with a move to buy David Villa as a replacement for the unsettled Sergio Aguero (via Mirror Football).
With City having recently recruited former Barcelona sporting director Txiki Begiristain, it’s perhaps not much of a surprise that the club will be linked with names at the Camp Nou.
Villa has struggled to cement a regular spot in the Barcelona lineup this season. At 31 years old, you would expect they will move him on at the end of the season while he can still command a relatively large transfer fee.
Despite his age, Villa still has the quality to flourish in the Premier League. He has scored goals at every team he’s ever played with and his ability to operate in wide areas as well as centrally would surely appeal to Mancini.
Ashley Cole could leave Chelsea on a free this summer.
Manchester City’s defence has been porous this season, so why wouldn’t they be interested in making a move for a truly world-class defender?
Like David Villa, Ashley Cole is no spring chicken at 31 years old. However, the left-back shows no sign of being in decline. His contract expires at the end of the season, when he is expected to leave Chelsea on a free transfer. At that point, City will be amongst the bidders for his services, according to Steve Millar of the Daily Star.
You can see why the transfer would appeal to both parties. A Bosman move would put Cole in a strong negotiating position to land one last mammoth contract, while Manchester City could definitively solve their issues at left-back.
Aleksander Kolarov is great going forward but can’t defend, while Gael Clichy is solid rather than stellar. Cole would add an injection of on-field class to City’s defence. He has won virtually every club honour in the game and would bring a wealth of experience to their back four.
Mamadou Sakho is rumoured to be leaving PSG.
A bigger problem in Manchester City’s defence this season has been who to play alongside skipper Vincent Kompany. Last season’s title win was built upon the defensive partnership between Kompany and Joleon Lescott, but the England international has fallen out of favour with Mancini this season.
The Daily Mail has claimed that City are ready to let Lescott go in January and will replace him with Paris Saint-Germain star Mamadou Sakho.
After the arrival of Thiago Silva and Alex, Sakho is himself on the fringes of the PSG team. Furthermore, the 22-year-old failed to impress sufficiently in the 2011-12 season to make the French squad for Euro 2012, so the Manchester City faithful are entitled to ask what he might add to the team.
Roberto Mancini is known to be an admirer of the player, however. Back in February of this year, he spoke to the French newspaper Le 10 Sport about how he would one day consider a move for Sakho.
The France international may not have fulfilled his undoubted potential as yet, but is still young enough to turn his career around. You can bet that the confident Roberto Mancini would back himself to revive a player who was once hailed as one of Europe’s hottest prospects.
The stylish midfielder Benat has a buyout clause in his contract.
Another player that we know Roberto Mancini is interested in is Real Betis midfielder Benat Etxebarria. Manchester City have been linked in the past with a move for the 25-year-old midfielder, who has won four caps for Spain.
Instead, City bought Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia, who as yet have not established themselves within a midfield that is preparing for the departure of Yaya Toure for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Spanish newspaper AS recently reported that Betis president Rafael Gordillo said Benat could leave in January if a club met his buyout clause of €20 million and speculated that Manchester City could do just that.
Benat has been compared to Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso. City are certainly in need of a player to eventually replace the ageing Gareth Barry as the solid foundation in midfield.