5 Players Manchester City Should Look at Signing This Summer
Manchester City's 2013-14 season is drawing nearer to its conclusion, meaning we've had a good long while to examine every last player on the roster. Over the last 10 matches of the season, there are a few players on the team on shaky ground, looking to hold on to a solid spot in the fold heading into next season.
Others may not be so lucky, with their future perhaps lying elsewhere, be it on the bench or on another team's roster. As such, Manuel Pellegrini and the rest of the City brass are surely keeping an eye on the market, looking for players to fill holes that might be created, or ones that might already exist.
Who might some of these names be? Read on for a breakdown.
Martin Demichelis' consistent inconsistency combined with Matija Nastasic's injury woes have left a lot of question marks in the center of City's defense. Vincent Kompany needs some help, and Joleon Lescott can't do it alone. This is the biggest position of need for City this summer.
Porto's Eliaquim Mangala was the hot target in the winter transfer window, but a possible transfer to Eastlands never materialized. B/R's Rob Pollard has stumped for Tottenham Hotspur man Jan Vertonghen to be brought in, and Kompany's compatriot would be a solid signing.
However, memories flash by of him getting rinsed by Jesus Navas at the Etihad in November and playing Samuel Eto'o in on Hugo Lloris earlier this month with a sublime curving ball. A less risky option lies in wait in Spain, not to mention a far less expensive one.
Villarreal's Mateo Musacchio will be available on a free transfer this summer, and the 23-year-old would be well worth City's investment. Squawka rates him as the Yellow Submarine's third-best player on the season, nearly level with attacker Gio dos Santos.
The Argentine's passing rate of 78 percent leaves a little to be desired, but his other stats compare favorably—per Squawka again—with some of the other names listed in this slide. At 23, the defender is having a fantastic season, and could find himself on the plane to Brazil before shipping off to Manchester.
Fernando, like his Porto teammate Mangala, was linked to City during the winter transfer window. Jamie Sanderson of Metro reported that City might've gotten their man just after the window ended, but that deal seems to have been scuppered.
The Brazilian signed a new contract, as reported by Simon Bajkowski of the Manchester Evening News, with a €30 million release clause. This was a cruel blow, given that the old contract would have expired this summer, but it doesn't end the pursuit.
Like his similarly named compatriot, current City standout Fernandinho, Fernando is a strong central-midfield presence. He's a tough tackler who isn't afraid to pick up a booking here and there. Given how much Yaya Toure and Fernandinho are run into the ground, it can't hurt to have a gritty guy like Fernando ready to jump in.
There is some depth at this position already, though Fernando should be able to beat them out. Gareth Barry is set to return from Everton in the offseason, but you wonder if he still has a place at City given his advancing years—he's now 33—and the glut of talent at his position. Plus there's Javi Garcia, a disappointment almost since the day he signed.
We'll see if the cost is a deterrent in making this move, but it'd be well worth the money if Pellegrini decides to shell it out.
Given Edin Dzeko's inconsistency, plus continual injury woes besetting Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic, a striker might be a decent option, though it might require Dzeko being shown the exit door. To fill that gap, there might be a highly-rated striker available from Germany.
Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic could very easily be forced out of the squad by the impending arrival of Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund. This is added to the possibility of Pep Guardiola utilizing the likes of Mario Gotze or Thomas Muller as false-nine strikers.
With the Bavarian juggernaut set to possibly claim another victim—like Mario Gomez last summer—the Croatian is likely to be a hot target in the transfer market. A report from Metro has Arsenal in the lead for the race, but City should definitely get involved if there's a hole to fill up top.
Not only is Mandzukic's goalscoring record pretty impressive—32 from 48 Bundesliga games with Bayern—but he's a great off-the-ball worker too. B/R's Sam Tighe has certainly professed to this, with the striker a prime example of the "suffoco" role: A striker/No. 10 who willingly tracks back and stifles the opponent's creative linchpins.
This could theoretically work well with City. While Aguero creates havoc for the opposing back line with his speed and movement, Mandzukic fights to win the ball back in midfield. One tackle can spring an easy break for the Argentine.
Left-back is not a position of immediate need for City, with solid contributors in Gael Clichy and Aleks Kolarov in tow. Both are on the right side of 30 and both are still clicking along nicely. However, neither are top-tier options, and both have probably peaked.
Kolarov has long been linked with a return to Italy, where he played before joining City, with Italian publication Tuttosport reporting (in Italian) that both players could join Juventus. While it would seem silly to sell both, at least one leaving isn't out of the question. But it raises another: How would you fill that hole?
Shaw boasts unusual confidence for an 18-year-old defender, especially one pitted against the plethora of attacking talents thrust at him week in, week out. He has a great attacking sense, like Kolarov, meaning the likes of David Silva, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho will have a perfect wide outlet on the left flank.
And as Pollard mentioned, City's thin roster of English first-teamers makes adding Shaw a useful endeavor in the long run. He's young, he's insanely talented and he can only get better. City would be wise to add him and make him a cornerstone of their long-term goals.
This one's definitely a project for the future.
Joe Hart entered this season with no real danger of losing his place, but struggles led to him being temporarily dropped in favor of Costel Pantilimon. The towering Romanian fared well in his seven-game Premier League stint, and featured in City's 3-1 League Cup triumph over Sunderland earlier this month.
I would expect Pantilimon, whose playing time has been severely limited since his arrival in Manchester, to be snapped up by another team. And with that roster spot opening up, expect City to target a keeper to partner Hart.
John Drayton of the Daily Mail reports that Barcelona's outgoing stopper Victor Valdes is a target, but you have to wonder how either would feel about being displaced as an everyday starter. A better idea might be to target a young keeper to learn from Hart, which is where Geronimo Rulli comes into play.
The 21-year-old Estudiantes netminder is enjoying an excellent season in his native Argentina, with Ed Maylon of Mirror noting his six-and-a-half game streak of not conceding. On that kind of form, it's no wonder he's being linked to City.
You do have to wonder if his limited experience might hurt him in this regard, with Maylon mentioning just 31 first-team appearances for Rulli. But as a backup, a youngster willing to learn and a guy to play in the three non-Premier League competitions City will likely face, this would be a shrewd pickup.
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