Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola eager to find John Stones a new defensive partner this summer

Guardiola has admitted he is looking for a new defender, with Leonardo Bonucci a target

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The Independent Football

Pep Guardiola will prioritise finding a central defensive partner for John Stones when the transfer window reopens, with Juventus player Leonardo Bonucci their prime target, according to reports.

Manchester City were encouraged to welcome back club captain Vincent Kompany in the mid-week match against Chelsea, but Guardiola has admitted that he needs to bolster his defensive ranks.

Kompany has only featured in four matches because of injury, while Nicolás Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov have both been plagued by inconsistent performances.

“The defender has to be rougher and tough, you must compete with strikers like (Romelu) Lukaku, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, (Diego) Costa,” said Guardiola ahead of City’s match against Hull.

“You have to be like that. We are looking for not just that, there have to be qualities of a player, for us it’s so important.”

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Kompany finally returned to first-team action this week (Getty)

Italian international Bonucci is likely to be a prime target for the club – especially if Massimiliano Allegri remains as manager at Juventus.

Guardiola has previously admitted that he is a big fan of the 29-year-old’s abilities, telling journalists that the Italian was one of his ‘favourite’ players.

And Bonucci gave some hope to the Manchester City hierarchy when he revealed he very nearly decided to join the club at the start of the season.

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The Italian is subject to interest from City (Getty)

“Man City? [Turning the club down] wasn’t a decision taken lightly,” he told Sky.

“When you see one of the top coaches in the world show so much respect and appreciation for you it’s hard to say no. My heart prevailed.”

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