As Manchester City prepare to host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium this evening one thing has become glaringly apparent: Pep Guardiola is one player short in his quest to achieve back-to-back titles.
The elusive piece in the jigsaw is, of course, a quality back-up for Fernandinho. City’s bid to sign a long-term replacement has formed a core part of the club’s efforts to strengthen the side in the past twelve months, and yet a solution to the defensive midfield conundrum feels some distance away.
Discussion over potential January transfer targets has persisted during City’s season thus far, with the likes of Tanguy NDombele, Ruben Neves and Frenkie de Jong all linked with moves to the Etihad Stadium since the season got underway.
But a recent report from ESPN has served to pour cold water over discussion linking City with a January transfer for a new central midfielder, as sources close to the media outlet have revealed the club will rely on the players currently available rather than sign a new midfielder this month.
After watching both Ilkay Gundogan and John Stones struggle in their auditions for the role of Fernandinho’s understudy, there can be little doubt that City are lacking the presence of a player who genuinely understands and can thrive within the role the Brazilian plays.
With Liverpool storming ahead at the top of the Premier League table City simply have to record three points this evening, but even a priceless win over the Reds could be in vain if they fail to strengthen in midfield.
Regardless of the result, one would presume that Txiki Begiristian, Pep Guardiola and Khaldoon Al Mubarak will sit down in the aftermath of the Liverpool game to discuss plans for the remainder of the reason, and if they fail to alter their stance on the signing of a new midfielder there’s no doubt it will come back to bite them as the season develops.
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