Potential Man City targets who could strengthen Pep Guardiola's squad – Manchester Evening News

Manchester City will no doubt already be looking towards the summer transfer window and beyond – could these three stars be on their shopping list?
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Since returning back from the World Cup, some Manchester City fans would have been left disappointed by their drop in form, with their team drawing at home to Everton, losing the Manchester derby and being knocked out of the League Cup to a Southampton team who are not having their strongest season.
City have signalled that they are unlikely to make any big transfer moves this January having brought in Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez, Manuel Akanji and Stefan Ortega in the summer.
But one of City's great strengths as a club is their forward planning, and there's no doubt they will already be looking towards the summer transfer window and beyond – could these three stars be on their shopping list?
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A player who has been regularly linked to a move to Manchester City this January, the 20-year-old Argentine has been impressing for Velez Sarsfield in the Argentine Primera Division at the end of last and this season, making his debut for the club in March 2022.
Preferring to play as a defensive midfielder, this is already a position which City possess a lot of talent in, with Rodri and Kalvin Phillips. However, for the latter it has been a tough season, only accumulating 152 minutes of football across all competitions this season as he struggles for form and fitness.
The young Argentine’s most impressive stat were his defensive numbers with an average of 3.29 tackles per game. However, his passing would need improving in a Pep Guardiola system, Perrone made an average of 27.9 passes every ninety minutes.
MEN Sport reported at the start of the transfer window that any interest in Perrone would be from the City Football Group, and if it was decided that City were moving for him it would be more likely be seen as a long-term signing rather than expecting him to immediately challenge for a place in Guardiola's side.
Jude Bellingham has flourished since joining Borussia Dortmund from Birmingham in the summer of 2020 and has gone from strength to strength. He is an immensely mature footballer to say he is still 19 years old.
A transfer like this would be very difficult to complete in a winter transfer window with the high fee which will be attached to the Englishman. It looks more likely City will dedicate their effort to go for Bellingham in the summer but will be challenged by clubs like Liverpool and Real Madrid.
The fee would be high, but you are getting a special player with that money. He has scored 12 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions in a somewhat underperforming Dortmund side this season. Something which City have lacked slightly this season is goals from midfield in players like Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva.
As well as his goal-scoring ability, his ball-carrying skills are exceptional and are met equally with his range of passing, for a player so young he plays with a lot of maturity, but Manchester City will need to break the bank if they are to secure the transfer.
Rafael Leao is one of the most exciting talents in world football. His incredible dribbling, speed and goal-scoring ability have all contributed to him being one of the most sought-after players in Europe.
City experienced some of their best years under Guardiola when they had quick wingers such as Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. Riyad Mahrez being their only out-right winger in the squad would suggest this is a position Guardiola could look to strengthen.
This season he has been rotating players like Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, and Julian Alvarez who are not out-right wingers by trade, and by letting players like Sterling and Ferran Torres leave in the summer, this has limited the Spanish manager's options in that area.
The Portuguese winger – still only 23 – has eight goals and five assists in the Serie A this season, and combined with his pace and dribbling it makes him a very dangerous and difficult player to defend against.
Once again City would have to empty their pockets for a transfer like this as the Italian side value him very highly. It is also a transfer which would be unlikely to happen this month, but something the Sky Blues should enquire about come summer.
They would also face stiff competition from Premier League rivals Arsenal, who have identified the young Portuguese star as a target after missing out on Mykhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.
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