With January just around the corner, there’s plenty of transfer gossip filling the back pages this morning.
City, as ever, are front and centre, and according to Jamie Jackson and Ed Aarons writing in the Guardian, Pep Guardiola will attempt to bolster his squad when the transfer window opens.
The Blues tactician is thought to want Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, as well as Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.
“Pep Guardiola has informed Manchester City’s hierarchy that he would like to sign Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez and Virgil van Dijk of Southampton, with both understood to have been identified as prime targets for the Premier League leaders,” they write.
“City, who entertain Bournemouth on Saturday when they go in search of a 17th successive Premier League victory, are keen to strengthen in the January transfer window despite a record-breaking start to the season that has seen them establish a 11-point lead over second-placed Manchester United.
“Having failed to agree a deal for Sánchez in the summer after Arsenal decided against cashing in on the Chile forward despite him entering the final year of his contract, a renewed approach next month appears likely despite Arsène Wenger reiterating his stance that the 29-year-old will not be allowed to leave the Emirates Stadium. City are willing to wait until the summer if necessary, however, with the club aware that introducing a new signing may potentially upset the balance of the current squad.
“Guardiola has also set his sights on the Holland international Van Dijk as he attempts to provide back-up for his defence, with concerns over the captain Vincent Kompany’s long-term fitness. It is believed that there has already been contact between City and Southampton regarding the 26-year-old’s availability, with City keen to avoid a repeat of the summer saga in which Liverpool were reported to the Premier League for an alleged illegal approach.
“Van Dijk has been restored to the Southampton first team under Mauricio Pellegrino after having a transfer request rejected but he could be allowed to leave should they receive a suitable offer, likely to be in the region of £60m.”
However, the Mirror’s John Cross says Sanchez will join City in the summer when his contract at Arsenal expires.
“City are confident they can wait until the end of the season to sign him, even though Paris Saint-Germain remain keen and could bid in January,” Cross writes.
“The Mancunian Blues bid £60million for Sanchez in August but the deal did not happen as Arsenal could not get a replacement signed in time, failing with a last-minute bid for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar.
“Sanchez is keen to leave the Londoners as he wants to win trophies — and Chile’s shock failure to qualify for next summer's World Cup has only made him even more determined to join a European power.”
And the Telegraph’s James Ducker says City’s transfer plans for the next 18 months are already laid out.
He writes: “Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, held a planning meeting with chief executive Ferran Soriano and chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak last Friday (Dec 15), at which they ironed out their transfer strategy for the next 18 months. City are refusing to entertain any quick four or five month fixes and are determined to ensure they guard against a repeat of a situation such as last summer, when they lost four full-backs in one go.
“If City do business next month, it is likely to focus on the recruitment of a central defender, with Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk a preferred target ahead of West Bromwich Albion’s Jonny Evans and Inigo Martinez, of Real Sociedad.
“City have already been in formal contact with Southampton, not least to ensure they avoid a situation like Liverpool encountered last summer when the Merseyside club were reported to the Premier League by their South Coast rivals for an alleged illegal approach for Van Dijk. It is thought Southampton are more open to selling the Holland defender next month than they were in the summer but their £70 million price-tag is considered prohibitive, despite interest from Chelsea and Liverpool ensuring his valuation remains high.
“City tried and failed with a £21 million bid for Evans in August, but while they have not discounted another move for the Northern Ireland defender, they have yet to re-establish contact with West Brom for the 29-year-old, who is wanted by Arsenal. Any central defensive recruit would be third choice behind Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones as things stand. City have no current plans to sign another left back, though, with Guardiola satisfied by the progress made by Fabian Delph and hopeful of having Benjamin Mendy back from injury in April or May. Danilo and Oleksandr Zinchenko can also provide cover there.”
That’s all for this morning’s roundup. Stay with us throughout the day for all the buildup to our game with Bournemouth on Saturday.