Manchester City have reportedly held talks with representatives of Bayern Munich defender David Alaba about a possible £40 million move.
That’s according to Phil Cadden of the Sun, who has suggested the discussions have taken place over the past fortnight. It’s noted a January deal would be difficult to pull off, although City want to secure the versatile Austrian in the summer, with manager Pep Guardiola on the hunt for a couple of new full-backs.
The Bayern man signed a new long-term contract at the Allianz Arena in March, although City want to double his current weekly salary of £75,000, according to Cadden.
Alaba is a player Guardiola will know well from his time with the German champions. Here is a look at why many consider the Austria international to be the best left-back in world football:
During Guardiola’s tenure at the Allianz Arena, the 24-year-old made massive strides as a player. Alaba is not only attuned defensively, but he made improvements in his positioning, distribution and awareness on the field.
For the City boss, who likes his full-backs to be comfortable dropping infield or bursting around the outside, Alaba would be a perfect option. He’s shown numerous times for Bayern and at international level that he’s comfortable in all areas of the field, and he has the potential to become even better in years to come.
He’s already accomplished plenty at Bayern, as the club’s official Twitter feed noted courtesy of OptaFranz earlier this year:
FC Bayern US @FCBayernUS
What a man. Happy Birthday @David_Alaba! 😎🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 #MiaSanMia (via @OptaFranz) https://t.co/JLwm9wFQ4P2016-6-24 19:00:46
Even so, prising him away from the Allianz Arena would be a huge challenge for City and would surely require a lot more than £40 million given Alaba’s world-class talent. So perhaps it’s no surprise to see City linked with alternatives.
Indeed, as we can see here courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones, Guardiola is said to also be a fan of Napoli's Faouzi Ghoulam, who could be targeted during the midseason window:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
A fully funded Pep Guardiola will shop for a new left-back in January, with Napoli's Faouzi Ghoulam a top target, reveals @DeanJonesBR https://t.co/psxDJpo2wi2016-10-17 17:30:07
The left-back has been a key part of the Partenopei’s strong showings in recent seasons with some fine displays at the back. The Algeria international is defensively determined and loves physical battles, meaning he’d cope well with the physicality of the English game. It’s in the final third where he especially excels, though.
Here’s a look at how he’s fared so far this season statistically in comparison to Alaba and City left-back Aleksandar Kolarov:
|Left-Back Comparison: Alaba, Ghoulam, Kolarov|
|Apps (Sub)||5 (1)||7 (1)||6 (1)|
|Passes per game||45.7||55.1||57.7|
|Key passes per game||2||1.8||0.4|
|Dribbles per game||0.2||1.4||0.9|
|Tackles per game||1.2||1.1||1.7|
Ghoulam is definitely the more attainable of the two players, and although he may not be as high profile or versatile as Alaba, he’d be an upgrade for City in the left-back spot and is a player who looks well-suited to the Guardiola blueprint.
Alaba would be the dream capture for Guardiola. Given Bayern’s UEFA Champions League aspirations, a January deal would surely be impossible to negotiate. But City have the money to test the Bundesliga club’s resolve and would be an alluring prospect for any player who may be keen on a new challenge.
Perhaps that’s something Alaba may be tempted by after so much success with Bayern. Working with Guardiola helped him kick on to become one of the world’s most rounded footballers and linking up with him again on a lucrative contract at City wouldn’t be a huge surprise. The German giants would likely turn down £40 million, though.