Manchester City have been simply brilliant this season, and have only lost twice in 36 games played this season.
After a poor first season in charge of the club, Pep Guardiola splashed £200 million in the summer to restructure the squad, as well as removing the deadweight by letting 12 players leave.
City are currently 12 points above the second-place Manchester United, and with just 14 more games to go, they look to be in a pole position to run away with the Premier League title.
However, Guardiola is still looking to bring in winter reinforcements to strengthen the squad for Europe. Although they topped their Champions League group with 15 points out of the maximum 18, games against Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli showed that there are certain areas that need to be improved at City in order to compete alongside the European elite.
The club was constantly linked with Alexis Sanchez for a year, and came very close to signing the player when the January transfer window opened.
Guardiola signed Sanchez from Udinese back in 2011 when he was a Barcelona manager, and the pair looked set to be reunited at the Etihad, until the club pulled out of the deal in the last minute due to the player’s outrageous wage demands.
It is understood that Sanchez was asking for more than £300,000 a week, while the highest paid players in the City squad are just making over £200,000 a week.
The move could had destabilized the club’s wage structure, and Guardiola didn’t feel it was the right move when his team has been doing so well.
“In my time at Barcelona, my time at Bayern Munich and now here, I never pushed the club to say I want those players when the club believes and says that the price is too much,” the manager said.
“I respect that decision and I move forward to look for another solution because the stability of the club is the most important thing.”
Sanchez instead signed for United, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way, and will wear the iconic number seven jersey at Old Trafford.
Guardiola Plans to Sign a Defender Instead
After missing out on Sanchez, Guardiola now looks to improve his defense instead, which is being criticized after conceding goals in every one of their last six games.
City have also conceded more goals than United and Chelsea this season, and the manager believes it is the weakest point at the moment for his side.
Vincent Kompany has featured just eight times this season due to multiple injury problems, and has yet to play in the Champions League or in domestic cup competitions.
John Stones has also been hit with injuries, and he still hasn’t looked himself after returning from the latest setback.
City were linked with a move for Real Sociedad center-back Inigo Martinez, as well as West Brom defender Johnny Evans, but it appears that they are looking for a long-term option instead and look set to bring in Aymeric Laporte.
The 23-year-old is a youth product of Athletic Bilbao and broke through the first team when he was just 19.
Known for his technical and physical abilities, Laporte has been an interest of many big clubs, particularly by Barcelona.
City have also been linked with the player for past couple of years, which saw Bilbao hand him a new contract with a whopping release clause of £57m in the summer of 2016 to prevent any potential exit.
However, City are now prepared to activate the release clause, which would make Laporte beat out Benjamin Mendy to become the second most expensive defender in the world behind Virgil van Dijk.
It is understood that an agreement has already been reached between the club and the player, and the deal should be finalized by next week.
Laporte has made 222 appearances for Bilbao since the 2012/13 season, and won the Spanish Super Cup with the club in 2015 after beating Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate.
He also played with Bilbao in the Champions League during the 2014/15 season, although they were knocked out in the group stage of the competition.
The center-back has represented his country France in various youth levels, but has yet to appear in an official match for the senior team.
He is also eligible to play for Spain due to his Basque ancestry, and has admitted his desire to suit up for La Roja in the 2018 World Cup if he isn’t called up by France.