Two years in the past, Manchester Metropolis’s centre again division appeared to be beneath whole management, the altering of the guard deliberate and apparent.
The Blues had spent £57million to herald Aymeric Laporte as a left-sided companion to John Stones – the 2 males had been even born only a day aside, as if to emphasize the symmetry of the long-term plan.
With veteran pair Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi having safely seen the Blues house in Pep Guardiola’s first Premier League title win, there was no rush to begin the transition.
And with younger Spaniard Eric Garcia and Stockport prospect Taylor Harwood-Bellis impressing within the youth ranks, it even began to look as if the subsequent two cabs had been already ready within the rank.
However on the dog-end of the new, bewildering summer season of 2020, the Blues have purchased Nathan Ake for £41million and are nonetheless searching for one other centre again.
Kompany left, Otamendi developed an alarming tendency to self-destruct, Laporte acquired crocked, Stones suffered with type loss and damage, an then Garcia introduced he wished to go away, with Barcelona poised.
Metropolis even needed to flip to previous midfield stager Fernandinho as an everyday centre again – he did so properly that he was in all probability the Blues’ greatest central defender in a season the place defending allow them to down at key moments.
Kalidou Koulibaly has occupied everybody’s consideration all through the summer season, however the reality is that the Blues have quietly ensured there are different irons within the hearth, notably Atletico Madrid’s Uruguay defender Diego Gimenez.
No bids have been made for a participant with a £110million launch clause, and if Atletico really need the £80million being touted by Spanish sources, Metropolis are unlikely to pursue it.
However his age profile – he’s 25 – matches with Metropolis, as does the actual fact he’s a bodily specimen who’s snug enjoying out from the again.
Metropolis have additionally eyed up Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Benfica’s Ruben Dias.
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A lot is determined by Garcia, who can be free to go away subsequent summer season if cash-strapped Barca can’t afford the price Metropolis need – more likely to be greater than the £15million the Catalans seem keen to pay.
Otamendi can be more likely to go, if an honest bid is available in for him, and each of his earlier European golf equipment – Porto and Valencia – are believed to have an interest, however struggling for the cash.
Fernandinho has been given one other yr on his very good Metropolis profession, however the emergence of Garcia and the return of Laporte noticed him begin for use as a substitute for Rodri in midfield.
He stays a viable choice in each positions.
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There have been massive query marks over Stones after a season pock-marked by accidents and wherein his tendency to make useless errors and get bullied by vigorous strikers was once more to the fore.
Stones has two years left on his present deal and appears intent on proving himself by resurrecting a profession which confirmed a lot promise within the heady early days of Guardiola’s Etihad reign.
Harwood-Bellis can be eagerly watching developments. He’s already a fixture within the first workforce squad, but when Garcia does go, he takes one other ahead step.
If his former Youth Cup companion stays, the 18-year-old is about to be despatched out on mortgage to achieve expertise, but when he goes Harwood-Bellis will stick with the squad.