PEP GUARDIOLA wants Alexis Sanchez and two more players to complete his Manchester City revolution – but is happy to play a waiting game.
The Etihad chief’s transfer blueprint for the next 18 months involves a forward, a defensive midfielder and a centre-half.
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But plans to sign a new left-back have been abandoned thanks to the excellent transition of Fabian Delph in recent months.
The attacking player City want is Sanchez – although Pep’s preference is to wait until the summer to be re-united with the Arsenal superstar.
As well as the fact he will be a free transfer come June, Guardiola is worried about what effect his arrival would have on the balance of his squad.
City made a £60 million bid for the former Barcelona man before the transfer deadline – and were shocked when Arsenal accepted it and then pulled the plug.
Now they hope to make Arsenal see the error of their ways by taking him for nothing when his Emirates contract expires.
That could change in January if other clubs move for the Chilean – but City remain relaxed and confident he wants to join them.
That would leave a huge question mark over Sergio Aguero’s future – although the club would still want him to stay.
The club’s hierarchy believe competition is the ideal way to bring the best out of Aguero – and Sanchez would certainly add that.
Closer to home, it would be a big call for Guardiola to sanction the sale of the striker – who is a huge favourite among City fans – and the favourite player of his own son, Marius.
Meanwhile, a move for a new centre-half could still happen in January – although Vincent Kompany and John Stones are making progress in their recoveries.
City have had some contact with Southampton about Virgil van Dijk – who was a target for them last summer.
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However they backed off when Saints were quoting £70 million and director of football Txiki Begiristain is not willing to pay anything like that.
Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez is believed to be ahead of Jonny Evans of West Brom on the list of possible alternatives.
The search for a new defensive midfielder is also under way – with Yaya Toure set to finally bring down the curtain on his City career in the summer.
City have been linked with the likes of Fabinho, William Carvalho and Steven Nzonzi in the past – but are happy to bide their time.
Meanwhile, Delph’s form at left-back has forced City’s hierarchy into a re-think over plans to recruit a new one – and seems certain to save them a fortune.
Guardiola was convinced right from the start he could convert the midfielder into a full-back – and got the chance when Benjamin Mendy suffered a cruciate injury.
City plan to keep Delph and use him as back-up to the £49.3 million French ace – who is expected back in the summer.
The fact Delph – an £8 million signing from Aston Villa in summer 2015 – is now viewed as a left-back will no doubt interest England boss Gareth Southgate.