By Alex Fisher
Last Updated: 22nd July 2019
The sign of a great side is the willingness to improve even after a title-winning campaign, and Manchester City look in no mood to let the grass grow under their feet.
City retained the Premier League title in May after a thrilling battle with Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s men sealing the trophy at Brighton on the final day.
Upgrading a side that won 32 games and scored 95 goals isn’t easy, but the departure of Vincent Kompany leaves a hole at centre back.
Turning to our markets, England defender Harry Maguire is 11/8 to replace Kompany at the Etihad Stadium, although they reportedly face competition from Manchester United.
Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly could also be an option, with City 5/2 to swoop before the deadline.
Case for the defence
Replacing club icon Kompany will be no easy feat, but Maguire and Koulibaly are both world-class and unlikely to be fazed by the challenge.
Maguire’s stock rose dramatically after the 2018 World Cup and another solid season for Leicester – when he won 84% of his tackles – only added to his value.
Whether City would be drawn into a bidding war with United as the price climbs towards £90 million remains uncertain, but Koulibaly would be no cheaper.
264/420 – Since they both play in Serie A (2014-15), Koulibaly and Manolas have respectively won 264 tackles and 420 aerial duels: more than any other defender in the top-flight in this period. Complementary. pic.twitter.com/AEGQ6NtX6K
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) July 1, 2019
The defender made 135 clearances in Serie A last season, as well as blocking 33 shots and registering a tackle success rate of 78%.
Should City want a younger option to support the likes of Nicolás Otamendi, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte they could look elsewhere, with Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké a reported target.
City have already swooped for Atlético Madrid midfielder Rodri to reduce their reliance on Fernandinho to screen the defence.
Rodri has a growing reputation across Europe, and has been compared to Sergio Busquets. His tackling ability, composure and vision will strengthen City in the middle of the pitch, and give their rivals plenty to worry about.
And don’t rule out City dipping into the transfer market for forward options either. Guardiola doesn’t need much in the way of creativity, but if the likes of Isco or Memphis Depay become available he may not be able to resist – especially if Leroy Sané departs.