Manchester City will hold a board meeting in Abu Dhabi at the weekend, with Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the chairman, ready to sanction the acquisition of a central defender should Pep Guardiola wish to make a move in January.
City had no plans to act in the winter window but Vincent Kompany’s latest injury may force a rethink. In the summer Guardiola identified the need for two central defenders and in the event signed only John Stones despite a firm interest in Juventus’s Leonardo Bonucci and Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Bilbao.
Guardiola decided to give Kompany one more season to try to regain fitness after a nightmarish two seasons. However, the knee ligament damage the captain suffered when colliding with Claudio Bravo, his goalkeeper, in Saturday’s win at Crystal Palace was the 35th separate problem in his eight years at the club and has placed his future in jeopardy.
Kompany will be ruled out for a minimum of a month meaning he will have missed 39 weeks of this calendar year. Guardiola may decide he has to act as the Belgian’s absence compounds the problems in defence.
The manager remains unconvinced by Nicolás Otamendi while Aleksandar Kolarov, a left-back, is an auxiliary option in the position. With the 19-year-old Toson Adarabioyo having played only twice for Guardiola it means he has only Stones as a first-choice centre-back. The problems in defence were underlined during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Borussia Mönchengladbach when Guardiola was forced into shuffling his rearguard into four separate units during the Champions League game.
He began with a three-man defence before Jesús Navas, a winger, was dropped into right-back to make a four. Otamendi was moved out to this position when Fernandinho was asked to play at centre-back alongside Stones before Baçary Sagna became City’s third right-back of the match when he came on in the second half.
All of this contributed to a poor defensive display with Stones proving at fault for Mönchengladbach’s goal – not the first time the 22-year-old has made a costly error this season. Guardiola had hoped Kompany’s experience would help ease Stones into the side during his debut campaign following his £47.5m summer signing from Everton.
The need to fill the void of having a senior player alongside Stones may be a further factor that prompts Guardiola to act. City’s executive are expected to meet on Monday following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the previous day.
If the coach decides against buying a defender he could ask Yaya Touré to move into the back four. He played there in Guardiola’s Barcelona side who beat Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final.
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