If Matija Nastasic, who returned to training this week after an ankle injury, isn’t risked for Manchester City’s trip to Cardiff on Sunday, they could be lining up with a makeshift centre-back pairing of Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia. It’s a situation which is far from ideal, but after injuries to Micah Richards and Vincent Kompany, manager Manuel Pellegrini has few other options. Signing a new centre-back has become a priority.
Step forward Martin Demichelis, a 32-year-old Atletico Madrid player who worked under Pellegrini at Malaga. According to Jamie Jackson at the Guardian, Pellegrini’s preferred option, Real Madrid’s Pepe, has become unattainable, so Demichelis has emerged as City’s most likely signing. However, after initially looking like costing a nominal fee, Demichelis now has a €5-million price tag hanging over his head.
So what do we know about Demichelis?
The Argentinian, who has 37 international caps, started his career at River Plate, winning two league titles before moving to Bayern Munich. He won four domestic doubles and appeared in a Champions League final during a seven-and-a-half-year stint at the club. He made a total of 259 appearances and scored 15 goals for the Bavarian side.
He eventually signed for Malaga in December 2010, initially on loan, with the Andalusians taking up an option to sign him for a further two years at the end of the season. He made 84 appearances and scored the club’s first-ever Champions League goal before signing for Atletico on a free transfer just over a month ago. He signed a one-year deal but it seems likely he’ll now leave without playing a competitive match.
Given his age, it’s clear that Demichelis is nothing more than a stopgap signing, but it’s a deal that makes some sense. City already have Kompany and Nastasic and the club are hoping they will form a successful partnership for years to come. After an incredible debut season, City won’t want to hold back Nastasic’s progress, so an experienced short-term option who can fill in ably when others are injured seems a sensible move.
He’s also far cheaper than Pepe. Madrid were hoping for a deal of around £30 million, an astronomical fee for a 30-year-old. That price would surely have been negotiable but it was still going to take a large sum of at least £20 million to entice him to the Etihad. Pepe is an outstanding defender who has played consistently at the highest level but it was a deal that many suggested made little sense financially.
Demichelis brings experience without breaking the bank. He played with some of the world’s best players during his time with Bayern and if he could impart some of his knowledge onto Nastasic whilst also providing steady cover, he would surely be worth the fee being mooted. City’s priority is turning the Kompany-Nastasic pairing into the world-class partnership they undoubtedly can become. Demichelis is a player who could aid their progress.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity