Manchester City have had a below-par start to the Premier League season with the reigning champions currently trailing table-toppers Liverpool by eight points.
Defeats to Norwich and Wolves have left Pep Guardiola’s men playing catch-up this campaign, with injuries to key players severely denting City’s effectiveness.
Leroy Sane suffered a cruciate ligament tear during the Community Shield victory over Liverpool in August, while Aymeric Laporte picked up a similar issue shortly after in the league win over Brighton.
John Stones, Kevin de Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy have also been absent at times this term, while David Silva is due to depart at the end of the season – so which new arrivals could reinforce the starting XI in 2020/21?
Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)
Ake has emerged as City’s top target ahead of the January window as the champions search for immediate defensive reinforcements.
Nicolas Otamendi has failed to shine in the absence of Stones and Laporte while midfielder Fernandinho has been deployed alongside the Argentine at times this season.
Ake is considered one of the leading central defenders outside the ‘top six’, having joined Bournemouth permanently in 2017 following a successful loan move from Chelsea, and is also attracting attention from Tottenham.
The Dutchman could potentially cost anywhere between £40m-£80m so Inter Milan ace Milan Skriniar or Benfica youngster Ruben Dias may be cheaper options.
Ben Chilwell (Leicester City)
City were reportedly monitoring Chilwell ahead of a proposed move last summer, although a deal failed to materialise.
Guardiola has been vocal in his admiration of the Leicester full-back, who will offer more defensive solidity than Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko or Angelino.
Mendy’s injury record is a particular worry for City so the champions could reignite their interest in Chilwell for a more reliable left-back option, although they will have to battle Chelsea for the £50m-rated defender.
On the other flank, Joao Cancelo will hope to have established himself ahead of Kyle Walker in the pecking order with Guardiola already starting to rotate the duo for Premier League matches.
Further forward, City have a number of key selection decisions looming with David Silva set to depart the Etihad after a decade of loyal service.
The Spaniard’s vast experience will be missed, with Silva having helped City win four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups during his time at the club, although his namesake Bernardo has all the talent to seamlessly step into his shoes.
Ilkay Gundogan is also a currently underused option while Phil Foden must start earning regular appearances soon, so Guardiola does not need to dip into the transfer market for a new midfielder just yet.
Sane, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez will continue to rotate out wide but next season may finally be Gabriel Jesus’ chance to oust 31-year-old Sergio Aguero as City’s main striker.
How Manchester City could look on the first day of the 2020/21 season
(4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Ake, Laporte, Chilwell; Rodri, De Bruyne, B. Silva; Sane, Sterling, Jesus