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City earmark defenders as top priorities

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City are targeting between four and six signings this year, depending on potential departures, as the Premier League champions seek to build on the serial success of recent seasons.

Pep Guardiola's priorities are a centre-half and a left-back but, with David Silva due to leave at the end of the season and Leroy Sane wanted by Bayern Munich, the club are also looking for a midfielder and a wide forward as part of a rebuild.

Despite looking likely to surrender their Premier League crown to Liverpool, City moved a step closer to a sixth domestic trophy out of seven on Tuesday when they brushed aside Manchester United 3-1 in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final at Old Trafford.

The decision not to sign a replacement for Vincent Kompany last summer was compounded by a long-term injury to their best centre-half, Aymeric Laporte, who is only now nearing a return.

The veteran Brazil midfielder Fernandinho, who is close to activating an automatic one-year contract extension, has impressed as a makeshift centre-half, but City's struggles defensively this term have reinforced the need to strengthen.

Pau Torres, of Villarreal, and Ruben Dias, of Benfica, both aged 22, are on City's radar and rated among the most promising young centre-halves in Europe. Guardiola has insisted City will not make any signings this month, and that has been influenced by the club already having reached the maximum limit of 17 non home-grown players in their first team squad.

City could even be in the market for two centre-halves should Nicolas Otamendi leave at the end of the season. The Argentinian is 32 next month and City recognise renewal is required.

As well as Fernandinho, Guardiola has enlisted fellow midfielder Rodri at centre-half on occasion, with the poor form and confidence problems of John Stones an added headache in the position.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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