Man City closing in on deal for Roma defender

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Manchester City look to have won the race to sign highly-rated central defender Mehdi Benatia but the move could hinge on Roma finding a suitable replacement for the Moroccan international.

Reports suggest Manuel Pellegrini is desperate to sign the defender to partner captain Vincent Kompany at the heart of the City defence and is willing to spend £30m to get his man.

The 27-year-old has enjoyed an excellent season in Serie A with the Gialloross, helping them secure Champions League football but has now stated his intention to swap the Stadio Olimpico for the Etihad Stadium.

But Roma, who finished second in Serie A last season, are in no rush to agree a deal as they look for a replacement capable of filling Benatia’s shoes.

Rudi Garcia has targeted a move for Colombia defender Eder Alvarez Balanta, who has already been watched by the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid, should Benatia make the move to England.

Manchester City have kept a close eye on the highly-rated 21-year-old Colombian themselves but have now focused their attention on a deal for the Roma star.

The former Udinese defender built up a reputation as one of the best defenders in Italy last season as Roma conceded just 25 goals in 38 league matches.

And it is not just his defensive displays which have caught the eye of Manchester City officials as he is also a threat at the other end of the pitch having scored five goals last season.

City’s first approach for the defender – a reported £17m bid – was rejected by Roma but the clubs now look set to conclude business at around the £30m.

The Citizens may have lifted the Premier League title and the Capital One Cup last season but at times they looked shaky at the back, especially in the absence of Kompany.

But with the addition of Benatia, the Sky Blues could be a formidable force once again and are the 7/4 favourites with Ladbrokes to retain their title next season.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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