Analyzing Manchester City's Pursuit of Porto Defender Eliaquim Mangala

Alex Gruber@agruber6Featured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

Manchester City's hunt for defensive reinforcements may soon be nearing its end, if media reports are to be believed. Richard Tanner over at the Daily Express reckons that City are finally on the brink of signing Porto centre-back Eliaquim Mangala for a sum of around £32 million.

The France international, who did not see any action for his side at the World Cup, looks set to join former teammate Fernando in the trip from the Portuguese giants to Eastlands.

Much like the Fernando move, this deal has been in the air since the last winter transfer period. In the interim, City lost a key depth piece in Joleon Lescott, who departed on a free transfer to West Brom. Karim Rekik did return on loan from PSV, though it's yet to be seen whether he'll stick around.

There are a few things still to take into account with this ongoing transfer saga, though.

First of all is the player's desire to move to the Etihad. As noted by The Guardian's Jamie Jackson last month, the 23-year-old defender has previously set his preferred destination:

City or Chelsea? Chelsea because it is London. It is true that I love the Premier League because it is a spectacular championship. In January, there were discussions with City, but it fell through because the two clubs could not reach an agreement. Every player wants to play in the biggest clubs. I am an ambitious player and the team that can help me win titles is the one that interests me.

The same article also notes that Manchester United are a possible landing spot, though it seems more likely that Louis van Gaal goes for Mats Hummels or even a Dutch option like Stefan de Vrij. On that note, given his strong World Cup showing, it's a wonder why Manuel Pellegrini hasn't kicked the tires on Hummels over Mangala.

That brings us to another consideration: the competition.

Jackson noted last week that City's main back-up plan is Roma's Moroccan stalwart Mehdi Benatia. The former Udinese man would be a somewhat cheaper alternative, though the price there might vary. Jackson's two reports cite possible fees of £20 million in the older one, rising to £30 million last week.

Pipping United to Hummels would top the lot, of course. Charles Perrin of the Daily Express noted in 2013 that City were in on the Borussia Dortmund star heading into last summer's transfer market, but no such move ever materialized.

Perrin's cited cost of around £26 million for the 25-year-old might hold up, with John Richardson at the same paper recently figuring a £25 million move would be possible for United.

Either way, both of these options would likely be cheaper for City than a move for Mangala. Plus, both players are older than the Porto man, but not significantly so, entering their primes with tons of top-level experience under their belts.

With a grueling season about to get under way, it's key to have that experienced figure to go alongside captain Vincent Kompany as often as possible.

The last major issue with this transfer saga is, as B/R's Rob Pollard has explained, the "home-grown" player quota established by the Premier League.

Within each club's 25-man squad in the Premier League must be seven players who meet the league's standards of being home-grown. Currently on the City roster, Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Gael Clichy, James Milner, Scott Sinclair, Richard Wright, Dedryck Boyata and Jack Rodwell meet this qualification.

However, the recent addition of Willy Caballero means City have hit their limit on players who don't meet the standards. Therefore, adding Mangala or Benatia or whomever they choose means they have to cut one player from the non-home group to avoid punishment.

Alvaro Negredo has been touted as an exit candidate, though Atletico Madrid signing Mario Mandzukic leaves one less potential suitor. The Daily Express figure Javi Garcia could move, and with Fernando taking up his position in the depth chart, this could be a possibility.

Luckily, players 21 and under are not counted against clubs if they aren't part of the home-grown group. This means Rekik and Matija Nastasic, both of whom ought to figure into the plans at centre-back, have safe spots in the squad.

Of course, a number of those eight players listed above could see the exit door in the coming weeks, meaning that Pellegrini will have to turn attentions to addressing that issue before worrying about a player like Mangala.

All things considered, a move for Mangala has its pros and cons. He is certainly a player with great potential, though his disciplinary record leaves something to be desired. There are options who might offer better immediate help to the squad at a lower cost.

This saga has dragged on for months already, and Pellegrini would be wise to take even more time to think this out before splashing the Financial Fair Play-restricted cash. 


What do you make of this possible transaction? Comment below and hit me up on Twitter.


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