Manchester City Transfer News: Inter Milan Reportedly Want Eliaquim Mangala Free

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 26, 2018

Manchester City's French defender Eliaquim Mangala warms up for the English FA Cup third round football match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on January 6, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
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Eliaquim Mangala appears to be approaching the end of his time at Manchester City, and Inter Milan are reportedly targeting the former France international on a free transfer next summer.

Mangala, 27, has been sidelined since February after suffering a serious knee injury against Crystal Palace, but Tuttosport (h/t Calciomercato.com) reported that won't stop Inter from seeking his signature next summer.

According to the report, Andrea Ranocchia and Joao Miranda could both leave the San Siro when their contracts expire in June, and Mangala's almost-inevitable exit from the Etihad Stadium could take him to Milan.

Mangala is a far cry from the force City believed they were signing from Porto in 2014 and spent a short-lived loan at Everton last season before suffering the knee injury that's kept him out so long.

He's started to make significant steps back towards fitness, although sports writer Baz Cooper was surprised to see such a high-profile name in City's reserves when they faced Leicester City's under-23s on Friday:

Baz Cooper @bazdjcooper

#ManCity have got £32m defender Eliaquim Mangala playing here this evening against #lcfc... https://t.co/dhETW9n4EQ

The positive signs for City and alleged admirers Inter is that Mangala failed to concede a goal in those 45-minute outings, when he was withdrawn at half-time in each.

Football Italia reported Inter were admirers of Mangala in the past and wanted to sign him two years ago, although they say Inter are eager to clinch a cut-price deal in January and not during the summer transfer window.

Inter recruited Stefan de Vrij on a free transfer this past summer and already have a star presence in Milan Skriniar, meaning Mangala would be expected to fight for his place under coach Luciano Spalletti.

It's still likely to be an improvement upon his chances of starting another high-profile game under Pep Guardiola, who has a litter of star defenders in Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte.

Mangala also spent the 2016-17 season on loan at Valencia but is almost assured to go down as a flop for City, and the club doesn't appear as though it will recoup any of its investment.

Football Leaks (h/t Alex Stevens of Football Insider) reported in 2016 that City actually paid Porto £41.9 million for the centre-back, £10 million more than they claimed at the time of completion. That made him the most expensive defender in British football until Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool for £75 million.

Inter could get a good value deal if Mangala is able to resurrect some of the form that made him a star in the Primeira Liga, although the defender still has seven months of his City tenure to prove his worth at the Etihad.