Manchester City have not exactly embarked on the spending spree that many were forecasting upon losing the Premier League title so convincingly to Liverpool. They have brought in a few new names, but are yet to make the statement signing that will signal that they are back in the game and are willing to push Liverpool all the way this season. Liverpool, on the other hand, have brought in a world-class player in Thiago, and it is now up to City to try and match that in this window.

One of the biggest reasons for City’s failure to defend the title last season was their poor defending. Having seen Vincent Kompany leave the club after years of stellar service, Pep put all his faith in Aymeric Laporte, but when the Frenchman suffered a long-term injury, the other players were not of the quality required to be able to perform consistently at a high level. Guardiola was forced to drop Fernandinho back from defensive midfield to play at centre-back, which, in turn, meant that Rodri played a lot more than initially planned for his debut season. The Spanish midfielder took some time to adjust to the Premier League, and while it is expected that he will be able to take over from Fernandinho in the near future, he was not good enough last season. At the back, Nicolas Otamendi continued to be unreliable, while John Stones was hardly trusted, meaning that he was short of match fitness and practice whenever selected, which then compounded his poor displays. City did not have a settled full-back combination either – Kyle Walker had a poor season, as did Joao Cancelo, while on the left, a rotating cast of Oleksandr Zinchenko, Angelino and Benjamin Mendy kept appearing, with none of them nailing down a spot.

The pause due to the coronavirus meant that City were able to refocus to an extent, and came back during the restart to have the highest points tally in that phase of any club. During this time, when esports betting on and other portals increased hugely due to the lack of live sports, it was also confirmed that club legend David Silva would move to Real Sociedad at the end of the season, and City brought in Ferran Torres from Valencia to replace him.

Nevertheless, there was always a need to strengthen the defence, and so the club moved quickly to secure Nathan Ake from Bournemouth. The left-footed centre-back gives Pep quality back-up for Laporte, but there is still a need to bring in a top-class defender to partner him. Despite being linked to Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly all summer, it is thought that the City hierarchy consider him too expensive, especially as he is already 29 years old, and so they have moved on to alternative targets. Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez are thought to be under consideration, with one of those two likely to end up at the Etihad soon. They are both young and talented defenders, with a lot of potential to improve as well, and would make the City backline better while also giving Pep the chance to work with them and take their game to the next level.