Manchester City are reportedly interested in a move for Inter Milan defender Stefan de Vrij, according to reports in Italy.
As per CMIT TV (via Sports Witness), the reigning Premier League champions are ‘willing to spend’ an ‘important figure’ to prize the Dutchman from the San Siro, with a bid in the region of €40m (£33.5m) potentially on the cards.
The 30-year-old – who joined the Serie A outfit from Lazio in 2018 – has just a year remaining on his existing deal, with the ‘right offer’ potentially set to tempt both him and Simone Inzaghi’s side into a sale this summer.
As the report also alludes to, however, there has been speculation in recent weeks linking the £31.5m-rated man to Tottenham Hotspur in the upcoming transfer window, with the player having previously worked under Spurs boss Antonio Conte in Milan for two seasons – notably winning the Scudetto last term for the first time in 11 years.
Despite being currently well-stocked in their centre-back ranks – with Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake all at the club – this latest news suggests that Pep Guardiola’s side appear keen to further bolster their backline, with one of their current stars potentially set to be a notable casualty.
The man that could well give way to any new defensive addition is England international, Stones, with the 27-year-old having lost his place to teammate Laporte as the first-choice partner to last season’s Premier League player of the year‘, Dias.
Having been a £40m arrival from Bournemouth just two seasons ago, it would also appear unlikely that the club would cash in on Ake just yet, particularly with the former Chelsea man offering that much-needed balance as a left-footed option.
For Stones, it has proven to be a fairly frustrating campaign thus far, with the £250k-per-week star having made just 11 top-flight starts to date, while he was also recently forced off with an injury in the recent thrilling 4-3 victory over Real Madrid on Tuesday night.
That enthralling clash had seen the former Everton man line up in an unconventional right-back position in the absence of compatriot Kyle Walker – a role he has utilised on five occasions this season – a fact that further emphasises his diminishing status at the heart of the backline.
The £25.2m-rated man has also registered some fairly meagre statistics so far this term, averaging o.4 tackles and 0.8 interceptions in the Premier League, while he also ranks in just the top 97% for blocks made per 90 and the top 77% for clearances made, compared to players in his position across Europe’s top five leagues.
While that partly has something to do with City’s usual dominance in possession and limited need to defend, such a record also points to lingering concerns over his defensive ability, having once been criticised by Alan Shearer for making “mistake after mistake” in his early days at the Etihad.
By contrast, potential new arrival de Vrij has been in stunning form for the Serie A title challengers, with former Lazio defender Mauricio dubbing him a “monster” with “excellent technique” following his eye-catching displays for the Nerazzurri.
The 55-cap international has performed favourably in comparison to the aforementioned City man so far this season, registering 1.2 tackles, 1.8 clearances and one interception per game in the league thus far in his 26 outings.
There would no doubt need to be a period of adjustment as he has frequently lined up at the centre of a back three for Inzaghi’s charges, although his arrival in England could help to strengthen an already stubborn and seemingly impenetrable backline.
Stones – who has been linked with a move to Newcastle United of late – would be wise to be at least a little concerned for his future.