Man City’s new centre-back is already among Guardiola’s squad

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A high-profile defensive arrival could yet appear at Manchester City before the end of the transfer window, but Pep Guardiola looks prepared even if one doesn’t.

John Stones and Leonardo Bonucci are both regularly linked with moves to the Etihad Stadium, the former a supposed £50m target of Guardiola’s.

Should neither of those players arrive, and perhaps even if one does, the Spaniard would be willing to shuffle one of his current central midfielders back a position.

Speaking before the pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund, Guardiola praised Fernandinho’s versatility and suggested the Brazilian could feature among the back-line this term.

“He could play at centre-back. He’s a quick, fast player, so intelligent, aggressive and strong in the air,” the former Barcelona boss said.

“He has the quality to create good build-up. We think he can play there – maybe Fernando too but he’s not as quick. I like midfielders to play at centre-back because they can play good passes.”

The 45-year-old enjoyed notable success with the Catalan club by re-housing Javier Mascherano into a defensive position.

That allowed the La Liga giants to keep hold of possession and launch attacks from deeper positions, a tactic the new City boss looks to be wedded to for the upcoming Premier League season.

“We need to create good buildup play, with easy passes in midfield, to achieve good passes for our strikers further up the pitch,” the two-time Champions League winner said.

There are currently four centre-halves available for Guardiola to choose from. Vincent Kompany is a certain starter when fit, while Nicolas Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala and Jason Denayer fill out the rest of the Citizens’ quota.

Whether it be Stones, Bonucci or Fernandinho, that number looks certain to swell by the time the summer window closes.

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

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.