If there’s one notable quality void in Manchester City’s starting line-up as we enter the second half of the season, it’s undoubtedly the left centre-back slot next to Vincent Kompany.
Premier League veteran Joleon Lescott is widely expected to leave the Etihad this January, with a number of English clubs interested in his services, whilst youngster Matija Nastasic and golden oldie Martin Demichelis have failed to convince since the summer. Essentially, the Citizens skipper needs high-quality, long-term defensive partner.
And one of the leading candidates for the role this January is FC Porto’s highly-rated youngster Eliaquim Mangala.
The Standard Liege academy product emerged as a mainstay in the Dragons first team last season, as part of a backline that conceded just 14 goals in 30 games and went to claim the Primeira Liga title undefeated.
The France international’s influence was crucial, providing immense athleticism at the heart of defence through his towering 6 foot 2 frame and great agility, with his turn of pace and quickness said to be unique for a central defender.
Mangala is also a regular contributor at the other end, netting seven times in all competitions last season and finding two goals thus far in the current campaign.
Capable on the ball, fast and mobile with a great leap, the Porto star has all the prerequisites to be a huge success in the Premier League, and his skills set would certainly compliment Kompany’s. Furthermore, at just 22 years of age, he’d be a servant at the Etihad for the years to come, meaning no more short-term acquisitions of the Demichelis ilk to prop up City’s defence.
Being one of the most sought after young defenders in Europe however, Porto have landed the Frenchman with an outrageous £40million price-tag.
It’s by no means out of Manchester City’s financial grasp, but would make Mangala the club’s record transfer fee (which is saying a lot considering their free-spending attitude to the transfer market), and Manuel Pellegrini may feel the centre-back isn’t worth such a significant sum.