Manchester City are willing to sanction £80m on two players in the summer with Pep Guardiola looking to Everton defender John Stones and Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte to form a new partnership upon his arrival in the Premier League, according to reports.
City’s squad is set to undergo something of a revamp when Guardiola arrives in the summer, with the Spaniard already confirmed as Manuel Pellegrini’s replacement. With City’s domestic season falling apart since Pellegrini revealed he would be sacked at the end of the season – they were knocked out of the FA Cup and sit fourth in the Premier League table – Guardiola has a major job on his hands to rebuild the squad to his liking.
The area of most concern will be City’s defence, with captain Vincent Kompany suffering heavily from injury this season and the trio of Eliaquim Mangala, Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi failing to impress.
Demichelis will leave the club when his contract expires in the summer, while Guardiola is said to have doubts over Otamendi and Managala’s ability to remain a first-team regular, and the Express claims that the current Bayern Munich head coach will look to bring Stones and Laporte to the Etihad for the start of next season.
Chelsea failed in their attempt to sign Stones last summer following a series of improved bids – the most of which totalled £38m – but despite Everton’s resilience, the club are expecting further interest when the transfer window reopens in July.
Meanwhile, Laporte has a £40m buy-out clause in his contract with Bilbao, and the 21-year-old is highly-rated in Spain having put in a series of impressive performances since breaking into the first-team back in the 2012/13 La Liga season.
Despite the Agen-born defender yet to win his first international cap, he has represented France throughout his youth career, having made 18 appearances for the Under-21’s as well as playing for the Under-17’s, Under-18’s and Under-19’s.
Laporte only signed a new contract in June last year that keeps him tied down to the Basque club until 2019, but it includes a €50m release clause that City would have more than enough in their transfer budget to activate.
Kompany’s recent return from injury was cut short on Tuesday when he was forced off the pitch during the 0-0 draw with Dynamo Kiev with a recurrence of the calf problem that has plagued in over the past two seasons. While the result was enough to see City through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time, they will have to do without their skipper for at least a month, and there are fears he could miss most of the season run-in.
The 30-year-old has suffered 14 different injuries since joining City in 2008, and while he has proven his worth to the side in leading them to two Premier League titles, he cannot be relied upon to remain fit for the entire season.