After being thoroughly trounced in this season’s Premier League battle with Liverpool, Manchester City have plenty of work to do if they’re to regain the title next season.
Pep Guardiola’s men are set to finish more than 20 points behind their rivals over on Merseyside, despite scoring 15 goals more.
But it’s City’s nine defeats this season which has let them down. While Jurgen Klopp has picked Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez week-in week-out at the heart of the Liverpool defence, Guardiola has chopped and changed his centre-half pairing all season.
The Spaniard didn’t sign a replacement for Vincent Kompany when City’s legendary skipper left last summer. Aymeric Laporte has been out for much of the campaign with injury, leaving John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho and young Eric Garcia struggling to fill the void.
City have an abundance of talent up front – Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne are more than a match for their equivalents at Anfield – and our traders fancy City’s chances at Evens favourites for next season’s title.
If Guardiola’s men are to bounce back, however, it seems likely that he’ll go in search of a quality centre-half this summer; but who might that centre-half be?
The Napoli defender has been linked with a Premier League move for years , but transfers to Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal never materialised.
The Senegal international has been in Naples for six years now, coming close to the Serie A title under Maurizio Sarri. But Napoli’s form has wavered this season, and Koulibaly may feel the time is right for a move.
But he’s now 29-years-old, which may be a barrier if Guardiola is looking for a long-term solution.
At 25-year-sold, age is no barrier for Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake. The Dutch international has continued to impress despite trying to skipper a Cherries’ side which has lost it’s way over the past 18 months.
Should Bournemouth go down, Ake is sure to be picked up by a Premier League side. He’s comfortable on the ball, strong in the air and plays with maturity.
The 24-year-old Turkish international has been one of the breakout stars of the Premier League this season.
After taking his time to settle in England last season, Caglar Soyuncu has flourished under Brendan Rodgers at Leicester City this term.
Soyuncu has been marshalling the Foxes backline this season alongside Jonny Evans, showing great positional play and composure on the ball, plus plenty of strength in one-on-one situations.
Another option could be Inter’s Milan Skriniar. The 25-year-old has been a rock for the Milan side since joining in 2017, quickly racking up more than 100 appearances for Nerazurri.
Like Koulibaly, Skriniar has been sending the rumour mill into overdrive lately, with Manchester United also reportedly keen.
At 6ft 2in, Skriniar is a force in the air and has a no-nonsense approach to defending, but having also been utilised in a defensive midfield role, he’s more than comfortable on the ball too.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.