5 players Manchester City could target in the January transfer window

Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka have been heavily linked to Man City

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is embroiled in a dogged title race with Arsenal as the defending champions of the Premier League currently sit in second place, trailing the Gunners by five points. 

Now that the FIFA World Cup is a passé, fans of the Etihad outfit can finally look forward to the league’s restart as they would hope to retain the league title by surpassing Mikel Arteta’s side. In the first match after the World Cup break, the Cityzens already gave the world a glimpse of their firepower as they beat Liverpool 3-2 in the EFL Cup. 

There’s a running joke on social media that a rested Erling Haaland and an in-form Julian Alvarez would be unfair to the rest of the teams. But for all their star power, Guardiola’s men would need all the help they could get to fend off the challenge from the remaining title challengers. 

Teams are slowly catching up with the Sky Blues and thus they might need to add some more depth to their squad to have an upper hand on their rivals. Ahead of the January transfer window, two players have been heavily linked to the ‘blue’ side of Manchester – England duo Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham. While it remains to be seen if any of them walk through the door next month, Txiki Begiristain and others will surely try to lay down the groundwork required to pull off the two blockbuster deals. 

Here are the top five players Man City could target in the upcoming January transfer window. 

#5 Rafael Leao (AC Milan)

Having lit up the Serie A in the past two seasons, Rafael Leao has quickly developed into one of the best young wingers in the world, with many teams all across Europe eager to land the Portuguese sensation. He gave the world a slight glimmer of his exploits in the FIFA World Cup but didn’t get enough minutes to dazzle like some of the other young stars. 

That being said, AC Milan fans would be well aware of the 23-year-old’s potential and that’s why the Rossoneri have been working behind the scenes to tie down the youngster to a new long-term contract. 

Reports in England have claimed in the past that Guardiola would ‘love’ to add Leao to his side, but he is open to staying put at the San Siro currently. It will be interesting to see how this one develops.

#4 Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan)

Inter Milan is desperate to keep hold of Bastoni amid interest from all of Europe

Inter Milan is desperate to keep hold of Bastoni amid interest from all of Europe

Another young Serie A talent, Alessandro Bastoni is widely recognised as one of the brightest young centre-backs in the world. As per multiple reports, apart from the Cityzens, Antonio Conte’s Tottenham is also eager to land the 23-year-old Italian defender. 

While there is no shortage of centre-backs at the Etihad, and Bastoni may well struggle to displace the likes of John Stones, Ruben Dias, and Aymeric Laporte, the Sky Blues have shown in the past that they don’t shy away from cut-price deals and that too for a player who has a very high ceiling. 

Inter Milan’s finances haven’t been at their best, thus they may be forced to part ways with their prized asset who is out of contract after the end of next season. Having landed Manuel Akanji out of the blue last summer showed that Guardiola has a tendency for being prepared well in advance, and the Swiss defender has gotten his chances so far. Clearly, Bastoni is one for the future, and the Etihad outfit has its work cut out. 

#3 Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig)

Over to the Bundesliga now, there’s not a single top European club that has not been linked to Josko Gvardiol since the start of the season, and judging by his performances at the FIFA World Cup, the race to land the Croatian centre-back should be an interesting one. 

Apart from Guardiola’s side, Chelsea and Real Madrid have also been heavily interested in the 20-year-old. Again, the same argument remains that the Sky Blues already have a world-class backline but a player like Gvardiol who has maturity beyond his age rarely comes around. 

He carries the ball really well, something that Pep would love, and he doesn’t dive right away into a rash tackle, another skill set that would be much appreciated. With the world at his feet at the moment, it remains to be seen which challenge the RB Leipzig man chooses next but being the most successful team in England in recent times, the Etihad outfit would certainly be a tempting project. 

#2 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

One of the long-term targets of Man City, they’ve been linked to Bukayo Saya for a while now, although the Gunners’ academy graduate has so far pledged his loyalties to the Emirates. The youngster has shown previously what he is capable of, with his attacking threat, dribbling abilities and versatility as well. 

Bukayo Saka has been on Man City’s radar for a long time now

Bukayo Saka has been on Man City’s radar for a long time now

Saka would be the ideal successor to an ageing Riyad Mahrez, who at 31, doesn’t have long left in him. Plus, the former is only just coming into his peak years and given Guardiola’s past record of bringing the best out of the likes of Leroy Sane, and a certain Lionel Messi perhaps, the Spaniard would undoubtedly help the Englishman unlock his true potential. 

The only stumbling block is that he is an ardent Gooner, and with Arteta’s men challenging for the title, they would certainly not allow one of their young gems to depart just yet.

#1 Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) 

The world is talking about Jude Bellingham, who at 19 years of age, has already captained Borussia Dortmund. The most in-demand English teenager in the world, Bellingham lit up the FIFA World Cup with his performances in the engine room for the Three Lions. 

Be it Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich or any of the top European clubs, they are all reportedly lining up for a bidding war to land the services of the central midfielder. 

Dortmund bosses have acknowledged that they might have to part ways with their prized asset, but he’s not going to come cheap. The Cityzens would have no shortage of funds, and they would be able to offer the best sporting project, should Bellingham plan on a homecoming back to his own nation. 

Guardiola, like the rest of the world, is known to be a big fan, however, Begiristain and Co would have to pull off a masterstroke if they are to land the Englishman from under the noses of the remaining sides that are in the hunt.