Eliaquim Mangala will stay at Manchester City beyond the January transfer window, according to manager Pep Guardiola. The City boss confirmed Mangala will stay for the rest of the season, but he left the door open for the France international to move on next summer.
Guardiola offered words of praise for Mangala's application, while confirming the plan to keep him for the remainder of this season, per Goal's Jack Davies:
"He is our player and he is going to stay here in the winter break. Mangala is a player with a lot of experience who played at a high level in Porto, last season in Valencia and with the national team in France.
"I am really impressed about his behaviour in the training sessions. He hasn’t played regularly until now and he has always accepted it. When that happened he kept his head down. For a manager, for a club and for the environment in the squad that is so important.
"Of course he has his specific qualities. In the Premier League that is important sometimes. So we are going to use him when we believe we need him."
While his stance on Mangala seems adamant, Guardiola has also suggested the futures of several players could be up for discussion during the winter window.
The 46-year-old has revealed the club will talk with every player to determine who is happy and who is not, per Simon Bajkowski of the Manchester Evening News. Guardiola discussed the idea of players needing to be happy in squad roles where they might not always play week to week.
Mangala belongs in the same bracket, but he still has obvious value for an impressive team with just one potential weakness at the back. Things in the City defence have been shaken by Mangala's fellow centre-back John Stones being absent until January through injury, per Bajkowski.
It means former Porto defender Mangala could see games in the Premier League. He started against Feyenoord in the UEFA Champions League recently and performed well, according to Anthony Jepson of the Manchester Evening News.
For the season, Mangala has made just three starts, counting the game against Feyenoord. The other two starts came in the Carabao Cup.
City are in the quarter-final of the latter tournament, so they still need a squad player like Mangala. He will also be useful for the club's final group match in the Champions League. City have already won Group F, so they will likely field a refreshed team for their dead rubber against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Then there is City's bid to win this season's Premier League title. Guardiola's side are eight points clear at the top but don't boast the same depth defensively as they do in midfield and up top.
The issue of depth is a tricky one since Vincent Kompany has struggled with a litany of injuries in recent seasons. Otamendi was also recently suspended for the trip to Leicester City.
Mangala still has an important role to play this season, even though he was involved in transfer rumours during the summer window. The Frenchman was reportedly the subject of a £23 million bid from Crystal Palace on deadline day, per James Ducker of the Daily Telegraph.
He may have struggled to make the grade since joining City for £32 million in 2014, but Mangala is still only 26 and can be a useful figure for Guardiola's title-chasers this season.