Manchester City agree deal for Mehdi Benatia

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Manchester City have agreed a deal in principle to sign AS Roma defender Mehdi Benatia, but only if the Serie A side can find a suitable replacement.

According to the Daily Mirror, Manuel Pellegrini has been on the hunt for a new centre-back to partner captain Vincent Kompany, and he has been tracking Benatia for months now and it finally looks like he has signed his number-one target.

After allowing Joleon Lescott to leave the Etihad on a free transfer, Pellegrini and City were left with just two recognised senior centre-backs in the form of Kompany and error-prone Martin Demichellis, who isn't trusted as a number-one choice at the heart of the back-four.

With scouts sent out to watch him throughout the 2013/2014 season, Pellegrini received high reviews from his team regarding the Moroccan international, and he is now ready to part with £30million in order to sign the 27-year-old.

Benatia, who was superb for Roma last season, is highly-rated as one of the best centre-backs in world football and his performances throughout last season caught the eye of Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Chelsea, but it looks like the Premier League champions have won the race for his signature.

However, due to Roma qualifying for the Champions League next season, they are not willing to part ways with Benatia easily, and will only sell if they manage to sign a suitable replacement.

Roma know that replacing the 27-year-old will be a nearly-impossible task, but with a £30m offer on the table, they will be exploring different options, and may sell the Moroccan.

The manager of Roma, Rudi Garcia, will now start looking for a potential replacement, and if he feels he can sign someone who can help them challenge for the title next season, he will allow Benatia to leave, and currently River Plate's Eder Alvarez Balanta is the favoured option for Garica.

However, the Serie A side will face serious competition in signing the 21-year-old as Juventus are also interested in signing him after an impressive season.

If eventually Roma choose against selling Benatia, Manchester City are already preparing to make a formal offer for FC Porto centre-back, Eliaquim Mangala.

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