After losing Matija Nastasic for a minimum of six weeks with an ankle injury, Manchester City were expected to step up their interest in Real Madrid defender Pepe, who has reportedly been on their radar throughout this summer.
Pepe would be a fine signing, with his Champions League experience and prior relationship with Manuel Pellegrini both significant plus points, but Manchester City should also consider looking at Micah Richards as their centre back for the start of the season.
Joleon Lescott is also on the books, although he has been linked with moves elsewhere, but Richards has the potential to become a key player for City, and with Pablo Zabaleta locking down the right-back berth he could be used in the middle of defence.
Still just 25, Richards missed most of last season due to injury, and then struggled to displace Zabaleta when he returned to fitness.
He did start some matches at centre-back last year, with mixed results. The defender impressed in a 3-0 win over Sunderland in October, but was poor in the 3-2 loss to Norwich on the final day of the season.
If given an extended run in the position, Richards has the attributes to be a real success at centre-back. He is tall, powerful and pacy enough to have the physical edge over most strikers, and reads the game better than he is often given credit for.
It was not long ago that Richards was being hailed as one of the best prospects in English football, and a certainty to be a regular for club and country. Injuries and Manchester City’s rapid changes have held up his progress, but next season could be a crucial one in the 25-year-old’s career.
His fitness will play a part, and Richards will be fearful that another long injury might see him struggle to ever reclaim a starting place at Manchester City, but he is fit and raring to go at the start of the new season, and has to be a contender for the centre-back position next to Vincent Kompany.
image: © Roger Goraczniak