With mixed reports this morning suggesting that Manchester City have had a £20million bid for Real Madrid defensive star Pepe rejected, it has sparked a media speculation storm with the club being linked with defenders across the footballing world.
The number one target it seems for the vacant central defensive position at City looks to be the solid Portuguese defender. Kepler Laveran Lima Ferreira, or Pepe as he is known to you and I, has been a target for Manchester City since the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini and the exit of veteran Kolo Toure.
At the age of 30, Pepe has played for Maritimo, Porto and most famously for Real Madrid. He has 8 major honours to his name and bags of experience at the highest level, competing in the Champions League for the majority of his career. Known for his tough tackles, fiery attitude and defensive consistency, Pepe has been one of the most feared and successful defenders in a Real Madrid shirt.
With the emergence of young French talent Raphael Varane however, Pepe saw his first team chances limited under the management of Jose Mourinho. Thus, he has become Manchester City's prime target to fill the defensive gap. Manuel Pellegrini has managed the player before now at Real Madrid during the 2009/10 season and is obviously keen to reunite with Pepe and form a formidable partnership with City captain Vincent Kompany. That possible partnership in the centre of defence for City will have the fans excited about the season ahead.
Both players reach a height of 6 ft 3 and 6 ft 2 and are known for their sheer strength and bulk. Pepe would certainly bring an experienced head into the defensive mix at City, vital for those tricky Champions League nights. However, Pellegrini would need to convince the hot headed Portuguese man to keep his red card record to a minimum whilst wearing the blue shirt.
Perhaps, the easiest option for Manuel Pellegrini would be to approach his former defensive favourite at Malaga, Martin Demichelis. The Argentine already has fellow countrymen Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero at the club to help him find his feet, and with the man who managed him at Malaga in charge of the team he could settle in fast. The 32-year-old however is no long term option and would probably be brought into the club on a short term contract.
Adding to that, he has only been at his current club Atletico Madrid two months after arriving on a free transfer in June. The player however is reported to have asked the Spanish outfit to rescind his contract. Something rare in the world of football. Manchester City manager Pellegrini would have to decide whether or not the club is worth throwing itself into a transfer mix up for a player soon to be past his peak.
Should Manchester City fail to bring in either of the La Liga regulars, they will look to other options that will no doubt take until deadline day to complete.
The Bundesliga has two defenders on offer that Manchester City have been linked with this season, Shalke 04's young Greek centre back Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels, a player that has caught the interest of all the top Premier League sides.
Both players make a difference in terms of age to Pepe and Demichelis, with Papadopoulos aged just 21 and Mats Hummels aged 24. The Bundesliga defenders have impressed football scouts across the globe through their fast development at the clubs they currently play for. Both players represent their national sides on a regular basis and could feature for them in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. With that in mind, it is perhaps Papadopoulos who will be the easier of the two targets to sign. Hummels remains a solid fixture in the Dortmund side that reached the Champions League final last season. Thus, the German doesn't have much reason to move. The young Greek however will be looking for football at the highest level and one that can compete for trophies. With the constant domination of Bayern Munich in Germany, City interest could persuade the youngster.
Another defender that has caught the interest of Pellegrini is Napoli favourite Paolo Cannavaro.
The Italian who helped Napoli secure the Coppa Italia in 2011-12 is a solid defensive unit in Serie A and has also shown his talent on a Champions League level. The 32-year-old will be hard to persuade though with his career almost past its peak and his Napoli career looking positive with the new manager Rafael Benitez promising the fans an exciting season ahead.
Cannavaro, wouldn't have the week in week out role he has at Napoli if he joined City and that could scupper any possible move.
Other outside chance signings that have emerged at some point over the summer window have been Liverpool's Daniel Agger and PSG's Mamadou Sakho. However, with Daniel Agger already rejecting interest from Manchester City last summer it seems the Liverpool centre back is settled in his red shirt and with life on Merseyside. Mamadou Sakho is also unlikely to join Manchester City this summer.
The young Frenchman was a target of former Italian manager Roberto Mancini, however it seems that Sakho isn't part of Pellegrini's plans with speculation and reports over the player quiet.
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