Pep Guardiola has asked Manchester City to work on signing Joshua Kimmich in order to add pace to his defence and broaden strategic options next season. The Germany international, who Guardiola brought to Bayern Munich ahead of his final campaign at the Bundesliga club, is one a number of potential reinforcements for an area the Catalan considers a major weakness of his current squad.
City are also interested in signing Arsenal’s out-of-favour right back Hector Bellerin, AS Monaco’s Brazil international Fabinho, and Juventus defender Dani Alves.
Like Kimmich, Fabinho is comfortable operating in a number of defensive and midfield roles – a trait that particularly appeals to Guardiola. Bellerin combines an upbringing in Barcelona’s youth system with great speed over the ground; while Dani remains one of the best full backs in football and, arguably, the most successful signing of Guardiola’s managerial career.
READ MORE: 14 transfers that will dominate the summer
The Catalan has spent most of a trophyless first season in English football experimenting with his defensive resources, often asking his full backs to operate as auxiliary midfielders in possession or deploying them as central defenders with varying levels of success. In recent weeks, he has asked lightly built right winger Jesus Navas to start at right back in order to improve the team’s offensive output.
Assessing City’s performance after Thursday’s 0-0 home draw with Manchester United, Guardiola again highlighted the squad’s shortcomings. “We don’t have full backs to go up and down, up and down because all of them have 33, 34 years old,” said Guardiola. “So I adapt to the quality of the players. [In the] last games we played Jesus and we attacked a lot with the full back, but Pablo and Sagna, and Kolarov and Clichy, all of them are more than 33 years old and they have no talent in the legs to go up and down.”
Aleksandar Kolarov is actually 31 and Pablo Zabaleta 32. Gael Clichy will reach the same milestone in June. In common with 34-year-old Bacary Sagna, both Clichy and Zabaleta are out of contract at the end of this season. Kolarov has one further season remaining on his deal.
City’s replacement strategy remains flexible, and will depend on the availability and pricing of new recruits as well as their ages. Kimmich’s playing time at Bayern has declined under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, but the German club are notoriously difficult to extract players from – rarely selling on anything other than their own terms.
Bellerin signed an improved deal at Arsenal in November, but has recently become a vocal target of supporter discontent there. Though Arsenal would be under no financial pressure to accept a bid, the north London club has a track record of accepting offers from other Premier League clubs, particularly Manchester City.
Fabinho expects to be allowed to move on from Monaco this summer after another outstanding campaign for the Champions League semi-finalist and Ligue 1 leaders. It is understood that Juventus had an agreement to sign the 23-year-old for €45million only for the principality club to back out of the deal and raise Fabinho’s asking price.
City have already explored the possibility of bringing Dani Alves from Juve in the summer with the idea of utilising the 33-year-old as an experienced hand should they manage to secure a younger defender like Kimmich. There are no questions over Dani’s physical condition, he remains exceptionally quick and would require no adaptation to Guardiola’s way of working.
The Brazilian also has a long standing interest in testing himself in the Premier League. Before signing with Juventus last year, Dani gave an interview to The Guardian in which he explained his desire. “It’s special: there’s a corner and it’s like it’s a goal,” Dani said. “I’ve always said that playing in England is something I’ve got pending. I don’t know when but I’d like to play there, to experience in person what I see from the sofa. The way the people live football. Wow, it’s incredible. Full stadiums, living every moment.”
It is understood that Dani would require assurances on playing time before exchanging the Serie A champions for another leading club. One of his principal goals for next season is to represent Brazil at the World Cup Finals in Russia.
City spent more on transfer fees last year than any other club in Europe with a CIES Football Observatory study calculating their total outlay at €231m compared to second-placed Manchester United’s €185m.
From 2010 onwards, City have spent over €1billion on transfer fees, another European high watermark, according to CIES. With Guardiola pushing his club for reinforcements in all areas of the team, City are widely expected to surpass last summer’s spend over the coming months.