After a fast-paced start to the season under new manager Pep Guardiola that saw Manchester City lead the way at the end of October, a run of poor form has seen them fall behind Chelsea in the early race for the Premier League title.
With summer recruits John Stones and Claudio Bravo making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Guardiola’s appointments in January arguably need to be more astute.
19-year-old Leroy Sane has started to settle in and make an impression, putting in an impressive performance in the 2-1 victory over Arsenal, and Ilkay Gundogan’s injury was untimely after he started to find some form, but City need to consolidate their side if they are to challenge in May.
Here at The Boot Room we take a look at three potential targets for Pep Guardiola’s side over the next month…
Virgil van Dijk
It’s undeniable that Manchester City are currently a side with defensive issues; three goals conceded at home against Chelsea, four conceded away at Leicester – it’s not been easy for City’s back four.
Despite the £47 million signing of Everton’s John Stones over summer, Manchester City have only kept three clean sheets all season, the same number as Swansea City and Burnley.
It’s becoming clear that Guardiola needs to address his defence, despite being an attack-minded manager, and Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk is reportedly the Spaniard’s prime target.
Guardiola clearly still hasn’t found a defensive strategy yet, as even against Arsenal he left Stones out of the side and played left-back Aleksander Kolarov alongside Nicolas Otamendi at centre-back.
Van Dijk has been in scintillating form for Southampton this year, leading the back-line and winning over 70% of tackles he goes in for, and it’s easy to imagine him slotting in to Guardiola’s side; not least because the Dutchman is confident on the ball and able to play out from the back.
Although Van Dijk has gathered interest from various other Premier League sides, City’s pockets are more than deep enough to fend off the competition if Guardiola truly wants his man.