Manchester City may well be seeking defensive recruitments this summer. One free transfer should be top of their list.
This season has been one of defensive revelations and disappointments for the blue side of Manchester.
While 19-year-old Matija Nastasic is proving to be possibly the best young signing of last summer, Vincent Kompany’s injury problems and dip in form mean City are some way short of the all-but-impenetrable defensive unit they could be.
With rumours persisting that both Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure will be leaving the Etihad, talk will soon be rife about possible replacements. But for their ideal summer signing, City boss Roberto Mancini need look no further than the team currently eight places below them in the league. And he won’t cost a penny.
Fulham’s Brede Hangeland has been linked with a move away from Craven Cottage almost from the day he arrived. Or at least from the day he began to show all the attributes of an outstanding centre-back – who chipped in with a goal or two as well.
Those moves never materialised. But with the Norwegian player’s current contract ending this summer – and comments last week from his agent that a new deal is yet to be agreed – hopes will be high among potential suitors that Hangeland may finally seek pastures new.
Should he do so, for nothing more than a weekly wage and a signing-on fee City could secure one of the most experienced defenders in the Premier League. A dominant force who would continue Nastasic’s education, step in for Kompany when required, and form an effective partnership with the Belgian when both are fit.
This season has shown City’s frailties when competing on four fronts. Despite their squad depth, they have only two great or soon-to-be-great defenders. Adding Hangeland to the mix would allow them to rotate without the fear of shipping the goals they often do in the absence of their captain.
The question remains as to whether Hangeland would move from a club where he is first-choice, to a side where his starting birth will be challenged by two defenders far younger than he is. But as the Blue’s cross-city rivals have proved this season, sometimes you need far more than two quality centre-backs to succeed.
Should a new deal with Fulham not be agreed, the offers will come. In fact I would go so far as to say the 31-year-old will be the best free-signing of the summer.
Fulham will be more aware of that than most. But if he ultimately isn’t their player next season, Mancini should do all he can to bring him to Manchester.
Sometimes you can spend millions to solve your problems. But on the rarest of occasions, those solutions are free.
Do you think Hangeland would be a good signing for Manchester City? And which other defenders could they sign to bolster their side next season?
images: © Magnus D