Manchester City will target defensive additions this summer and are said to have drawn up a shortlist of four centre-back options, in news which raises major doubts over the future of John Stones.
The Premier League champions have endured an indifferent campaign thus far and have seen the defence of their title fall away, the club currently 22 points adrift of league leaders Liverpool following last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Tottenham.
Despite their struggles this season, Pep Guardiola retains confidence in his squad and will not make wholesale changes, though he is keen to bolster his defensive options with the signings of two new centre-backs.
According to the Times, the club’s hierarchy are currently monitoring four potential targets, including Villareal’s Pau Torres and Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias.
Torres has been linked with a host of Premier League sides following some impressive performances in La Liga, whilst he also scored on his debut for the Spanish national team just moments after coming on last year.
Dias is another regarded as one of the most highly-rated young defenders in European football after helping Benfica to the Portuguese title last season, and has previously been linked with a move to Manchester United.
Guardiola is also reported to be tracking Inter Milan’s Slovakian international Milan Skriniar and Brighton’s Lewis Dunk, the Man City boss keen to find a long term partner for Aymeric Laporte having utilised midfielder Fernandinho in an unfamiliar defensive role for much of the season.
City’s interest in signing a new centre-back could spell the end for John Stones at the Etihad, the England international’s future claimed to be ‘in doubt’ having struggled for both form and fitness in recent months.
The 25-year-old was linked with a move to Arsenal during the January transfer window and could once again be subject of interest from the north London side at the end of the season, Gunners’ boss Mikel Arteta a huge fan of the player following his time on the coaching staff at City and could make an offer should Stones be deemed surplus to requirements.