Premier League

"I expect Guardiola to spend £100m plus on a centre-back"

Liverpool legend John Aldrige is in little doubt that Man City's manager knows that he has to copy what his title rivals did in January 2017.

"I expect Guardiola to spend £100m plus on a centre-back"

John Aldridge has been speaking about the Premier League title race and contrasting the two main contenders - some say the only two - Liverpool and Manchester City. The former Red has no doubts that City boss Pep Guardiola will take a leaf out of his rivals book and spend big in the January transfer window on a world-class defender.

Man City 'expected' to spend big at the back

“With only eight games played this season, it is ridiculous to suggest the title race is anywhere near over," he told the Irish Independent. "But there is no denying that we are seeing vulnerabilities from Manchester City that were not there last season."

“Their 2-0 home defeat against Wolves on the back of the away loss at Norwich shows that this City team have cracks that are being exposed, with their defensive frailties in evidence yet again. John Stones will come back soon, but I don’t see him solving defensive problems that are stemming from the reality that Nicolas Otamendi is not up to the job of holding that back-line together in the absence of the departed Vincent Kompany and the injured Aymeric Laporte.

“City manager Pep Guardiola has said he won’t spend any money in the January transfer window, but I fully expect him to spend upwards of £100m on a centre-back as soon as he can because he knows that defence will not be good enough to win the Premier League or Champions League."

In the 2017 winter transfer market, the Anfield club signed Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for 80 million euros. The Dutchman has proved his worth as Liverpool have since reached two consecutive Champions League finals (lifting the most recent in Madrid), reached a club record points total in the Premier League last season, and are currently on a league winning run of 17. An away trip to Old Trafford awaits, where victory would equal the Englisg record set by City.

Class in Red | Liverpool's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.

Class in Red | Liverpool's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.

Champions League focus

“I also feel that Guardiola is more focused on European success than chasing more domestic glory now," Aldridge continued. "With his celebrations as City beat Dinamo Zagreb in unconvincing fashion in the Champions League last week suggesting his sights are targeting Europe this season.

“He was jumping up and down on the touchline in that Champions League clash and has been urging City fans to create the kind of atmosphere in home matches that drove Liverpool to European glory last season, but that just won’t happen.

Questions remain | Nicolas Otamendi of Manchester City.

Questions remain | Nicolas Otamendi of Manchester City.

Anfield on European nights is a unique experience and, try as they might, City fans will never be able to repeat it at their Etihad Stadium, so they face a tough challenge. They will need to keep buying their way to success if they are to conquer Europe.

“There are still 30 games to play in this Premier League season, so ignore anyone who tells you this title race is finished.”

City have a defensive candidate

If John Aldridge is right, one player that must be high on Pep's list is Kalidou Koulibaly. Regarded as the best centre-half in Serie A, the Napoli man will not be cheap, but could be the defensive tonic required. It is understood that conversations have already taken place.