5 World Cup Centre-Backs Manchester City Should Be Targeting
Defending hasn't been at the top of the agenda for plenty of teams at the World Cup so far, but there has still been enough opportunity for centre-backs to shine.
Pretty much all of the world's leading club sides will have scouts over in Brazil, and for Premier League champions Manchester City, buying a central defender to partner Vincent Kompany is sure to be near the top of their agenda.
That is especially the case after top target Eliaquim Mangala seemed to rule himself out of a move to the Etihad Stadium, as per The Guardian's Jamie Jackson.
So which defenders should City be looking at in South America? Who has done the most to catch their eye so far?
Here we run the rule over five players who could well prove to be Kompany's perfect partner.
Dejan Lovren (Croatia)
Southampton's Dejan Lovren must still be devastated by the controversial penalty decision which proved so vital in winning Brazil the opening match of the tournament against his Croatia side in Sao Paulo, but he now needs to recover and help his country qualify for the last 16.
Widely linked with Liverpool ever since the end of the Premier League season, the Daily Star's Nick Lustig now claims that the 24-year-old is a target for Barcelona, who will be looking to add him to the squad alongside countryman Ivan Rakitic.
With clubs of that calibre looking at Lovren—who has handed in a transfer request, according to Anthony Chapman of the Daily Express—should City get involved as well?
He has further chances to impress against Cameroon on Wednesday and then Mexico next week, and with a season of Premier League experience behind him, the reported £15 million fee could be worth it.
Bruno Martins Indi (Netherlands)
Tall, powerful and commanding, Netherlands defender Bruno Martins Indi has all of the attributes to succeed both at the World Cup and in any one of Europe's top leagues.
When you add in the fact that he's still just 22, you get the feeling that he is primed for a big-money move away from Feyenoord this summer.
The Dutch defence wasn't the main topic of conversation following their brilliant 5-1 win over Spain, but Martins Indi expertly marshalled Diego Costa and laid the foundations for his side.
Given where Louis van Gaal is headed after the finals, you'd be surprised if he didn't want to take Martins Indi with him, as was suggested by David Anderson of the Daily Mirror last month. However, surely City represents a more attractive destination for the defender at the moment?
Stefan De Vrij (Netherlands)
Martins Indi's central defensive partner for both the Netherlands and Feyenoord is Stefan de Vrij, who was born just three days before his club and country teammate.
They look set to provide the back line for the Dutch side for most of the next decade, but their club futures surely lie elsewhere.
De Vrij hit the headlines when he bundled home the Netherlands' third goal in the dramatic win over Spain, but he was also calm and composed at the back throughout the contest.
Raphael Varane (France)
This one would be hugely difficult to pull off, but there is a chance.
Given the presence of Sergio Ramos and Pepe at Real Madrid, and the team's ability to attract and afford pretty much anyone they want, would an ambitious move for Frenchman Raphael Varane be worth it?
The 21-year-old was partnered with Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho at the back in France's comfortable 3-0 win over Honduras in their opening match, and in truth, City are probably one of the few teams in world football who might be able to tempt Real into selling with a huge bid.
They might get knocked back, but what's the harm in asking?
Ezequiel Garay (Argentina)
Benfica's Ezequiel Garay kept City's Martin Demichelis out of the Argentina side for their opening match against Bosnia-Herzegovina, and perhaps he could be tempted to play with Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero at club level as well?
Formerly of Real Madrid, Garay has been at Benfica for the last three years. Now 27, he must be tempted to have a crack at one of Europe's top leagues again.
Garay and Aguero's relationship goes way back to the Argentina team that won the Under-20 World Cup in 2005, and perhaps the forward could be crucial in persuading the centre-back to make a move to the Etihad if Manuel Pellegrini rates him as a potential signing.
He'd need to work fast as Bayern Munich are on the verge of reaching an agreement with him, according to the Daily Star's Bruce Archer, but money could still talk.
If Argentina go far then his value will only rise as a result, but City will certainly still be able to afford him.