Pep Guardiola and defenders. It's been an expensive exercise for Manchester City.

Still trying to fill the glaring void left by long-serving captain Vincent Kompany in 2019, and reeling after a stunning 5-2 Premier League drubbing at the hands of Leicester City, Manchester City have turned to Ruben Dias.

Benfica and Portugal centre-back Dias will cost City an initial £62million (€68m), plus £2.1m (€3.6m) in add-ons should the 23-year-old trigger various performance-related clauses.

Sunday's announcement, with Nicolas Otamendi set to move in the opposite direction, takes Guardiola's spending as City manager on defenders to in excess of £410m (€451m) since 2016.

While City have won two Premier League titles under Guardiola, the team's defence remains an Achilles heel, especially in pursuit of European glory.

As City welcome Dias to Manchester, we look at Guardiola's previous defender signings while in the Citizens dugout.

 

Ruben Dias €68m (£62m)

He is Guardiola's latest big-money defensive signing. Previously linked to the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham, Dias arrives having emerged from Benfica's academy ahead of the 2017-18 season. He helped Benfica to Primeira Liga glory in 2018-19.

Joao Cancelo €65m (£59m)

The full-back position is a complex area for Guardiola, whose formation often centres on inverted full-backs and overloads. City splashed the cash on Cancelo last year but question marks remain over the 26-year-old Portugal international.

Aymeric Laporte €65m (£59m)

Of all of Guardiola's recruits in central defence, Laporte is the only one to truly convince. However, Laporte's fitness has proven a problem since being prised away from Athletic Bilbao two years ago.

Benjamin Mendy €57.5m (£52m)

A key member in Monaco's memorable run to the 2016-17 Champions League semi-finals and triumphant Ligue 1 campaign, Mendy arrived amid much fanfare in 2017. Mendy's off-field activities and his knee issues have prevented City from seeing the best of the France international left-back week in, week out.

John Stones €55.6m (£50m)

Identified as the ideal ball-playing centre-back to fit into Guardiola's system, it has not gone according to plan for Stones, who left Everton in 2016. After a promising start to life, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss appears to have lost faith in the often-injured Englishman.

Kyle Walker €52.7m (£48m)

Walker has served well under Guardiola, having joined as one of the best players in the league in 2017. Aside from a couple of dips in form and questionable off-field choices, the ex-Tottenham full-back remains important to what Pep is trying to achieve in Manchester.

Nathan Ake €45.3m (£41m)

Ake was the first defender through the door ahead of the 2020-21 season after City were dethroned by Liverpool last term. Lured away from relegated Bournemouth, the left-footed centre-back has started both of City's Premier League fixtures, scoring in the humbling defeat to Leicester.

Danilo €30m (£27m)

The Brazilian full-back is no longer a City player. Part of the deal that saw Cancelo swap Juventus for City in 2019, Danilo arrived as a LaLiga champion and two-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid. But the 29-year-old never really convinced in a City shirt.

Angelino €12m (£10.9m)

Part of City's youth team from 2013, Angelino eventually left for Dutch giants PSV five years later. After impressing in Eindhoven, City triggered their buy-back clause to re-sign the Spaniard in July 2019. Angelino made 12 appearances before being loaned out to RB Leipzig in the second half of last season. Despite interest from Barca, he is back on loan in Leipzig.

Oleksandr Zinchenko €2m (£1.8m)

The 23-year-old left-back was plucked from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2016. Following a couple of loan spells, Guardiola has often called on Zinchenko, who played 19 Premier League matches in 2019-20.

Sergio Ramos has been the face of Real Madrid, especially since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure in 2018.

Ramos highlighted his importance as Madrid dethroned Barcelona in LaLiga this season.

As the 34-year-old's current deal winds down, talks are reportedly underway to prolong his stay.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS REVEALS RENEWAL PLANS

Real Madrid captain Ramos wants €17million to renew his contract with the LaLiga champions, according to Diario Sport.

Ramos is out of contract in 2021 and there have been question marks as to whether the Spain skipper will sign a new deal at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The defender has called Madrid home since arriving from Sevilla in 2005.

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- The front page of Thursday's Diario Sport claims Barcelona are determined to sign Manchester City defender Eric Garcia. The 19-year-old left Barca for City in 2017. It comes as Premier League outfit City push for a swap deal involving full-back Joao Cancelo and Barca's Nelson Semedo.

- Could Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic reunite with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at Milan? According to reports, Fali Ramadani – agent to both Jovic and Rebic – met with Milan directors Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara on Wednesday. Jovic has struggled since leaving Eintracht for Madrid at the start of the season, with the Serbia international linked to Milan, Napoli, Leicester City and Chelsea among others. Rebic, meanwhile, is on a two-season loan from Eintracht.

Manchester United are interested in signing Adrien Rabiot from Juventus, claims Calciomercato. Fellow Premier League teams Everton and Newcastle United are also reportedly interested.

- Sky Sport Italia and Sportitalia report Victor Osimhen is set to be presented as a Napoli player on Friday. The Lille forward had previously been the subject of reported interest from the likes of Liverpool and United. Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano also says talks are ongoing for Napoli to sign Jeremie Boga from Sassuolo.

- According to RAC1 journalist Gerard Romero, Barca are eyeing Villarreal defender Pau Torres. The 23-year-old – also linked to City – reportedly has a €50m release clause.

City have offered Yangel Herrera to Valencia in an attempt to lure winger Ferran Torres to Manchester, says Gols Media. City are looking to replace Leroy Sane following his Bayern Munich switch.

Milan have contacted the agent of Brescia star Sandro Tonali, claims Sportmediaset. While Inter remain the frontrunners, their city rivals are not giving up on the Italy midfielder.

- Mundo Deportivo says Chelsea are dreaming of signing Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen amid doubts over current number one Kepa Arrizabalaga. Chelsea have also been linked to Atletico Madrid star Jan Oblak.

Liverpool are apparently seeking another option in attack and Wolves star Adama Traore is reportedly one of their targets.

The Premier League leaders have been heavily linked with a move for RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner.

However, they may instead be looking at a Premier League star.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL WANT TRAORE

Liverpool want to add Wolves attacker Traore this close season, according to The Sun.

Traore had scored four goals and provided seven assists in 28 Premier League games before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 24-year-old arrived in England from Barcelona in 2015, playing for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough before joining Wolves.

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- Following reports Paris Saint-Germain had made a bid for Mauro Icardi, who is on loan at the club from Inter, it seems that may not be the case just yet. L'Equipe says PSG and Inter are still in negotiations over the forward, with the Ligue 1 side hoping to pay less than the €70million purchase option they hold.

- Samuel Umtiti's future at Barcelona remains unclear. Marca says the defender will not leave the LaLiga giants, while Sport reports Inter could be prepared to sign the centre-back.

- Manchester City and Barcelona could be set for a deal. The Sun reports City see Nelson Semedo as a good option to provide competition for Kyle Walker, while Joao Cancelo could be offered in a potential deal.

- On loan at Estudiantes, Marcos Rojo appears likely to leave Manchester United permanently. The Mirror says the Premier League club are hoping Boca Juniors and Estudiantes enter a bidding war for the 30-year-old.

- Everton are said to be interested in Jean-Clair Todibo, who is on loan at Schalke from Barcelona this season. Sport reports the Premier League club have offered £19.7million (€22m) plus £2.7m (€3m) in variables for the defender.

Mauro Icardi seemingly has no future at Inter.

But Icardi is wanted in Paris, where the Argentina international has spent the 2019-20 season on loan.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly looking to sign Icardi permanently.

 

TOP STORY – PSG LODGE ICARDI BID

Paris Saint-Germain have offered Inter €50million to secure loanee Mauro Icardi on a permanent basis, according to Sky Sports.

Out of favour at Serie A outfit Inter, the forward was loaned to Ligue 1 champions PSG at the start of the season.

Icardi's loan deal included a €70m purchase option but PSG are determined to negotiate, with Juventus reportedly interested.

 

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- Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo is prioritising a move to Manchester City. Semedo has been linked with a switch to City – a transfer which would see Joao Cancelo swap clubs. Juve are also reportedly eyeing Semedo but the Portugal international wants to leave Camp Nou for the Premier League.

Lucas Hernandez to Newcastle United? Bild says the Premier League outfit are considering a move for the Bayern Munich defender ahead of their proposed takeover.

- According to ESPN, Bayern are eyeing Manchester United target and Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho. The England international has also been linked to Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barca.

Juve, Chelsea, City and Bayern are interested in Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, says Sport. However, the German is poised to sign a contract renewal with the LaLiga holders.

- Calciomercato claims Milan are moving closer to signing Marseille's 20-year-old defender Boubacar Kamara.

- Everton and Newcastle are both tracking Napoli forward Hirving Lozano, according to Corriere dello Sport. The Mexico international only arrived from PSV at the start of the season.

Inter remain interested in Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa, says Calciomercato. While Brescia's Sandro Tonali is at the top of the list for Inter, Chiesa has not been forgotten about in Milan.

Luring Lautaro Martinez from Inter to Barcelona appears complicated.

Barca are reportedly determined to sign Martinez as the Spanish giants look to bring in a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

But, Barca reportedly need some help from other clubs to get the deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – TRIO KEY TO LAUTARO DEAL

Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City are set for a three-way swap involving Inter star Lautaro Martinez, according to Sport.

Martinez has been tipped to swap Inter for Barcelona but the LaLiga champions are trying to drive down the price.

The proposed exchange deal would see Nelson Semedo leave Barca for City, allowing Joao Cancelo to return to Inter as Martinez moves to Camp Nou.

 

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Manchester United have agreed a £62million (€70m) deal for Lyon striker Moussa Dembele, reports TodoFichajes. Dembele has been linked with United, Chelsea and Barca.

- The Telegraph says Bundesliga titleholders Bayern Munich are preparing a €56m (£50m) bid for City star Leroy Sane, who is set to return to Germany.

- Could Houssem Aouar replace Miralem Pjanic at Juventus? Pjanic is reportedly set to sign for Barca despite interest from United and Le10Sport claims Juve are eyeing Lyon star Aouar.

- Exchange deals might be needed for Juve to have a chance of completing their dream transfers. Linked to former star and United midfielder Paul Pogba, Il Bianconero says Douglas Costa, Adrien Rabiot and Federico Bernardeschi could be used to tempt the Red Devils. An exchange deal with Chelsea could also see Douglas Costa and Aaron Ramsey, and Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri, trade places.

Dries Mertens prefers a move to Inter over Chelsea should he leave Napoli, according to Sky Sport Italia. The Belgium international is set to become a free agent.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are focused on bringing Brescia and Italy sensation Sandro Tonali to San Siro.

Timo Werner does not have a shortage of suitors.

The RB Leipzig forward and Germany international is reportedly wanted in his homeland, England, Spain and Italy.

However, Werner reportedly only has his eyes on one team in the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – WERNER WANTS TO JOIN LIVERPOOL

Timo Werner is not interested in joining Bayern Munich as the RB Leipzig star wants to team up with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, according to BILD.

Werner is wanted by Bundesliga champions Bayern, who have targeted the Germany international previously.

But Werner – also linked to Barcelona, Manchester United and Inter – is prioritising a Liverpool transfer.

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United have offered Jadon Sancho the famous number seven jersey as they try to prise the Borussia Dortmund sensation to Old Trafford, reports The Mirror. Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid have also been linked to the England international.

- Calciomercato says Juventus and Barca are continuing to negotiate a deal that would see Miralem Pjanic and Arthur swap clubs.

Barca and Manchester City are in advanced talks over a swap deal. SPORT says the two clubs are close to reaching an agreement that would see Nelson Semedo join City, with Joao Cancelo moving in the opposite direction.

Milan are dreaming of signing Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Calciomercato. With Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura set to leave, the Rossoneri are eyeing Tonali – who has been linked to the likes of Barca, United, City, Juve and Inter. Rennes midfielder and Madrid target Eduardo Camavinga and Arsenal's Lucas Torreira are also on the list.

- Will Lautaro Martinez make the move to Barca? SportMediaset claims Inter want €90million plus two players – Arturo Vidal permanently and Antoine Griezmann on loan.

Manchester City or Manchester United?

Harry Kane could reportedly leave Jose Mourinho's Tottenham at the end of the season.

And he could be playing for either Pep Guardiola or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer next term.

 

TOP STORY – CITY INTERESTED IN KANE

Manchester City want to rival Manchester United for the signature of Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to 90min.

Kane is reportedly considering his future at Tottenham and Premier League giants United have already been linked to the England striker.

Another Manchester club, City, are also interested in the 26-year-old front man.

 

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- The Times says all football games in England will be played behind closed doors under government plans to combat coronavirus. The report claims the current season will not be postponed, instead matches in the Premier League and lower divisions are to be staged without fans.

City are prepared to swap players with Inter. Calciomercato reports City are determined to sign Nerazzurri centre-back Milan Skriniar and are prepared to offer full-back Joao Cancelo, who previously played for Inter on loan.

Liverpool are favourites to sign Timo Werner, however, Mundo Deportivo claims Barcelona could turn to the RB Leipzig striker if they miss out on Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

Napoli would not reject bids for star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Koulibaly has been linked to the likes of United, City, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Mail says Chelsea and Tottenham are eyeing Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Crystal Palace are targeting Chelsea outcast Michy Batshuayi, according to The Sun. Batshuayi spent the second half of last season on loan at fellow London club Palace.

With Manchester City's Premier League title defence in tatters and a mounting injury list in defence, Pep Guardiola's side need reinforcements.

Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have been struck down by injuries this season, leaving City with limited options in defence.

As Liverpool run away with the title, City are eyeing an Inter star to rebuild their central defence.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGETING SKRINIAR

Manchester City have set their sights on Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to The Mirror.

Premier League champions City have struggled with injuries in defence this season as rivals Liverpool charge towards the title.

City are reportedly ready to buy in January and Skriniar – also a target for LaLiga champions Barcelona and Real Madrid – is on the list.

 

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- The Athletic says MLS outfit DC United want to sign Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric after Wayne Rooney's exit.

Juventus are "still hopeful" of signing Paris Saint-Germain loanee Mauro Icardi, reports Calciomercato. Icardi left Inter for PSG at the start of the season, having been linked to Juve and Napoli.

- Sky Sports claims Manchester United are interested in Leicester City star James Maddison, but are aware a January transfer will be difficult. Sky Sports also says the Red Devils are chasing Lille's Boubakary Soumare, along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Madrid and Valencia.

Mario Gotze will leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, according to Bild. Gotze's contract is set to expire and he has been unable to agree a new deal.

- TZ says Bayern Munich are interested in Manchester City full-back Joao Cancelo, with the Bundesliga champions distancing themselves from RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann.

As Manchester City continue to toil defensively in the absence of lynchpin Aymeric Laporte, the switch to a back three against Everton may not have represented the most obvious solution.

So largely desperate have Nicolas Otamendi's performances been this season, City's sole fit senior centre-back only made the bench against Sheffield United on Sunday, two days on from a 90-minute shift in the dramatic collapse at Wolves.

Injury meant there would be no recall for the Argentina defender on New Year's Day, so Pep Guardiola was again struggling to find a central pair, let alone a trio.

But faced with the nous of Carlo Ancelotti, a coach he spent much of the week lauding, Guardiola decided to make the bold call.

Teenager Eric Garcia kept his place following his full Premier League debut against the Blades, and he was joined by midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri.

A 2-1 City victory was the result, and the wider positives were clear to see as the champions stretched Everton to breaking point, a change in defence bringing a new dynamic to their forward line.

City are one of the best attacking outfits in world football, so improvements in that respect are always likely to be marginal. But there is no doubt Guardiola has had issues at full-back this season.

Kyle Walker might be playing as "the best Kyle I have faced" - Guardiola's words - but pre-season signing Joao Cancelo has struggled to establish himself.

Bought from Juventus just months ago, the right-back has been linked with former club Valencia and Bayern Munich, and discussion of his future took up a chunk of his manager's pre-match news conference.

"We buy players for many years, not for six months," said Guardiola, before handing Cancelo just his fifth league start against Everton.

On the opposite flank, Benjamin Mendy - brought in at huge cost in 2017 - has endured a tough campaign. Injuries halted his initial fine form upon his arrival in Manchester, and displays in 2019-20 have been extremely ordinary for the most part.

But both Cancelo and Mendy certainly saw benefit in this new system, given the freedom of the flanks as Rodri and Garcia stepped forward and Fernandinho anchored the side, the three covering for their wing-back colleagues.

Cancelo linked well with Riyad Mahrez and played a key role in the Phil Foden goal that was disallowed in the now customary stretch of VAR farce in the first half.

Meanwhile, Mendy, even up against two talented right-backs in Djibril Sidibe and Seamus Coleman, enjoyed himself going forward, moving the ball at greater speed than in previous miserable performances.

The France international created three chances - as many as any team-mate - while Cancelo supplied two.

Beyond the added threat of support from the previously limited pair, the set-up accommodated different roles for the likes of Mahrez and Foden.

The nominal wingers in this formation instead found space inside, Mahrez teeing up Gabriel Jesus' second. The Brazilian's first came from an Ilkay Gundogan pass, the midfielder let off the leash a little with three men behind him.

It was a system that had to sustain a testing finale, hampered by the predictably unpredictable Claudio Bravo, while crosses remained a source of concern for the diminutive defence into the closing stages, but Guardiola's men held on.

Openly already planning for next season but without Laporte to call on, the City boss could head home encouraged by a different, still dominant, display.

Pep Guardiola has appeared to rule out a January exit for Joao Cancelo by saying Manchester City sign players "for many years, not for six months".

Cancelo joined City from Juventus ahead of the 2019-20 season but has struggled to hold down a place in Guardiola's XI, starting just four Premier League matches.

The right-back has consequently been linked with mid-season moves to both his former club Valencia and Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

However, Guardiola insists Cancelo, 25, was a long-term signing and a departure is therefore unlikely at this stage.

"Today he was training with us," the City manager said. "In the last month, Kyle [Walker, the first-choice right-back] was the best Kyle I have faced. I have given continuity to him.

"[Cancelo] is adapting and has special quality. He can help us in many, many games.

"There are many rumours about how many players we are going to buy in the summer, so I don't comment on rumours. Rumours are rumours.

"Until the agents call, or we call the agents to buy other players, I don't take any interest in that.

"We buy players for many years, not for six months. But what happens will happen. I don't know what's going to happen in a few weeks. In the summer, we're going to discuss.

"If one player is not happy and wants to leave, it's simple. They have to call to the club, reach an agreement and he will leave. If he doesn't agree, he will stay here. It's as simple as that."

Guardiola is not expecting any incoming transfers either in January, suggesting City cannot afford to splash out and only a unique opportunity, as when Aymeric Laporte joined two years ago, could change his thinking.

"I took that decision. We could not invest in the summer, why would we be able to invest in December? I like my squad," Guardiola said. "I have problems with injuries.

"If I have an opportunity, like it happened with Aymeric Laporte, the release clause, we knew the potential of the player, we could do it. But that's not the position now. I don't think the market gives us this opportunity.

"I never say never, of course. We could have 25 injuries in the next two games and then we have to buy, or maybe two or three players want to leave in the transfer window.

"Then the club get money and we can invest. It can happen. But in the summer, we could not do what we could not do for money [reasons]. We could not invest more.

"We could not invest in the summer, so why could we invest three or four months later? It makes no sense, so that's why we will wait until summer time."

With Atletico Madrid struggling for regular goals, Diego Simeone is keen to address the problem.

Atletico have only scored 20 goals in 18 LaLiga matches this season – the club relying heavily on Alvaro Morata's seven strikes.

Simeone's solution could be about to arrive from the French capital, where a Paris Saint-Germain star has fallen down the pecking order.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID NEARING CAVANI DEAL

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani is close to joining Atletico Madrid in January, according to Marca.

Cavani has reportedly agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Atletico, while PSG would prefer to keep the 32-year-old until the end of the season.

The soon-to-be free agent has found himself behind loanee Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar this season.

Signing Cavani in the January transfer window could force Atletico to sell due to their salary-limit issue, with Thomas Lemar a possible casualty.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United pair Nemanja Matic and Marcos Rojo have been told they will be sold in January, according to the Daily Star. Matic has been linked with Serie A duo Milan and Inter, while Atletico have emerged as an option for the veteran midfielder.

- According to AS, Valencia want to sign right-back Joao Cancelo from Premier League champions Manchester City. The LaLiga outfit are keen for a January reunion with Cancelo, who initially joined Valencia in 2014 before leaving permanently in 2018. Valencia want to re-sign the Portugal international on an initial loan.

Hertha Berlin have entered negotiations with Granit Xhaka to bring the former Arsenal captain back to the Bundesliga, reports RMC Sport. Hertha have turned their attention to ex-Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Xhaka after failing to prise Lucas Tousart from Lyon.

Chelsea have been offered the chance to sign Isco. The Daily Express says Real Madrid are trying to offload players to free up funds to bring in Tottenham star Christian Eriksen in January. City are also reportedly interested in Madrid's Isco.

Mario Mandzukic's proposed switch to Qatari outfit Al-Duhail from Juventus has broken down due to wage expectations, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Barcelona only want to loan out defender Jean-Clair Todibo in January amid interest from Milan and Bayern Leverkusen. United have also been linked with the 19-year-old.

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