Manchester City are starting to hit top form, and now just lie one point behind leaders Arsenal as we enter the January transfer window.
Even with star striker Sergio Aguero missing through injury, manager Manuel Pellegrini has watched his side win five of their last six games, as well as seeing them rectify their poor away form. But whilst City have been irresistible going forward, with strong contributions from the likes of Jesus Navas, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Alvaro Negredo, there are still major question marks in the defence.
Joe Hart has endured an inconsistent season, but they have still yet to find a real partner for Vincent Kompany. A number of players have played alongside him, including Martin Demichelis, Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic and even Javi Garcia, whilst the injury to Belgian Kompany exposed City's defensive issues.
In the January transfer window, expect Pellegrini to consider one of the following five central defenders.
Ezequiel Garay, Benfica
Argentine centre back Garay has been a long-term target of city rivals Manchester United, but David Moyes pulled the plug on the deal in the summer and has now allowed City to enter the race. A bid of around £17m would be enough to land the 27 year old, who played under Pellegrini for Real Madrid. Also believed to be a close friend of City star Aguero, Garay would be an obvious choice for City as they look to find a partner for Kompany.
Diego Godin, Atletico Madrid
Another South American defender who featured under Pellegrini in La Liga is Godin, who was a key part of Pellegrini's successful Villarreal sides. Still only 27, Godin has been a rock in the heart of Atletico Madrid's defence under Diego Simeone, and could be the perfect partner for Kompany in front of Joe Hart. With Godin set to be a vital player in Uruguay's World Cup campaign, it would be important to buy him in January and save the risk of him attracting further interest in the summer.
Eliaquim Mangala, FC Porto
Mangala – like Garay – has been rumoured to be a target for Manchester United, but Porto's £30m valuation of the French centre back seemed to scare them off. However, 22 year old Mangala has declared his interest in moving to the Premier League, saying; "The Premier League? That is no secret, to me it is the most beautiful league in the world.” With quality already and the room to grow, Mangala could be the answer in defence for years to come.
Mateo Musacchio, Villarreal
Musacchio has been a star for Villarreal in their first season back in the top flight, and has attracted interest from Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City. As a result, the Spanish side want a reported £42m for the 23 year old, which is likely to ward any potential suitors off him. In the same vein as Mangala, Musacchio is impressive now but the fee would be largely based upon his potential to become a future mainstay of the City backline.
Kurt Zouma, St. Etienne
On the topic of potential, City have been strongly linked with a move for French Under 21 defender Zouma. The 19 year old has bags of ability and could become a world class defender, but could he be relied upon to partner Kompany for the rest of the season? City already have a promising young defender in Matija Nastasic, but could look to build for the future and allow Martin Demichelis to play in the meantime.