Manchester City have ground to make up in the Premier League title race.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has already hinted that transfer business could be kept to a minimum in the January window. That doesn’t mean he won’t be busy, though, as the Sky Blues look to maximize their chances of closing the gap on Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table.
City began their competitive return with an impressive 3-2 win over Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Thursday. Erling Haaland came back fresh and rested after Norway missed out on the World Cup and was right back among the goals when he stole past Joe Gomez at the far post.
That could bode well for Guardiola’s bid to make some noise in the five-point gap between City and Arsenal as the season approaches the halfway mark. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has already admitted he could go big in January to give himself the best possible chance of retaining the reigning Premier League champions.
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With that in mind, Express Sport brings you three key things on Guardiola’s to-do list over the next five weeks…
Sign an established left back
Guardiola has already stated, in black and white, that he does not expect any significant transfer business to take place in January. Arsenal’s Premier League lead and ambition in the window could see him back down, however, with the prospect of a hat-trick of Premier League titles at stake.
City boast a fully complete squad, but one potential area for improvement is at left-back. Joao Cancelo can be hugely effective there, but fans remain dubious about the long-term benefit of having two right-footed players on the same flank, assuming Jack Grealish is slotted higher.
Nathan Ake can also feature on the left side of defence, but is naturally a centre-back, while Sergio Gomez and Josh Wilson-Esbrand are both interesting but inexperienced prospects. City have previously been linked with the likes of Borna Sosa, Raphael Guerreiro and Rayan Ait-Nouri.
The Jude Bellingham Negotiations
While not referring to a deal to be completed in January, Guardiola and company could still use the month to try to move forward in negotiations for Jude Bellingham. The England and Borussia Dortmund sensation is at the center of a blockbuster battle between City, Liverpool and Real Madrid that is expected to reach a crescendo in the summer of 2023.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is pushing for the deal and a move to Anfield would mean a reunion with Three Lions pal Jordan Henderson. Los Blancos have always dominated the markeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet but City have recently linked Guardiola’s future and have Bellingham’s old Dortmund team-mate Erling Haaland who could be key to any progress after the New Year.
Borrow a young man
Having invested significantly in their academy set-up, City are now starting to reap the benefits, with the likes of Phil Foden and Cole Palmer making an impact on the first team. There is hope that Taylor Harwood-Bellis and James McAtee will soon do the same, with the loan pair gaining valuable experience at Burnley and Sheffield United respectively.
Therefore, Guardiola may be wise to look at possible loan destinations for several of City’s stars in the January window. Prospective left-back Wilson-Esbrand and teenage winger Carlos Borges are two of the front-runners should the Spaniard decide to temporarily let them fly.