Manchester City transfer focus: Quality centre-back needed with Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones issues, will they wait until the summer?

We get the lowdown on Manchester City in the transfer window

With Manchester City falling well short in the Premier League title race, we ask City Xtra's James Thompson about their options in the transfer window.

What do you make of Man City’s stance in the January transfer window – would you like to see them bring in now or wait until the summer?

"With Pep’s stance from early on being that the club doesn’t have any plans to bring any new players in January, despite lacking in the defence with Laporte’s injury, it says to me that Pep is happy with what he has now, or that there are plans for a big haul in summer.

"City are in a transitional period at the moment, players like David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are all on the back end of their City careers. So, they will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Then with players such as Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan who have question marks over their future at the club.

"I get the impression that everything will be sorted out in the next summer transfer window after the season has ended. Whether it be over new players coming in or current players on their way out."

Which players would you realistically like to see in a City shirt before the end of the season?

Kalidou Koulibaly: Repeatedly linked with Manchester

"I’d like to see a top-class centre-half join, even though it seems unlikely that anyone will be arriving this month. The name at the top of my list for this position is Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

"The defender has cemented himself as one of Europe’s best centre-halves in recent years. No doubt his price tag would be huge and Napoli have reportedly been very difficult to make deals with in the past (when selling Edinson Cavani and Jorginho for example).

"But a safe pair of hands in defence right now is exactly what City need at the moment. Anyone that can come in and allow Fernandinho to move back into midfield would be a perfect antidote to City’s recent issues.

"But, with Aymeric Laporte soon to make his long-awaited return to action in the coming weeks, that will be a big boost to everyone at the club. But the upcoming summer transfer window does seem like it will be the right period for City to fill in any gaps that need filling in for the squad."

Where did they go wrong last summer in the transfer window? Was failing to replace Kompany’s leadership, as well as Delph’s influence around the dressing room, a big error?

"When a team has big characters in the dressing room that offer so much more behind the scenes as well as what they deliver on the pitch, it can be near impossible to replace that kind of impact or personality.

"Anyone that has followed the Premier League over the past decade will be aware of the impact and effect that Vincent Kompany had in the City dressing room. The respect he had from the players that shared the dressing room with him and the way he would motivate and inspire those around him is something not every team has. Every club in the world would have loved to have a Vincent Kompany in their squad.

"As for Delph, the recent Amazon documentary would have certainly opened a few eyes when it came to his input in the dressing room. The passion and anger he showed at times would have surprised many.

"This type of personality would be a miss for any squad. In terms of replacing them, City have missed Kompany’s quality in defence. Delph is a different question due to City having similar players in their squad. Versatile midfielders that could do a job in defence when asked, Oleksander Zinchenko being the best example."

Which first-team players would you be happy to see leave?

Manchester City keeper Claudio Bravo is sent off during their Champions League draw at Atalanta

"Not many, but the first name that comes to mind is Claudio Bravo. Despite him being Ederson’s understudy, I have absolutely no confidence he can make a save when called into action.

"I felt sorry for him in his first season at City, he found it very tough but decided to continue on at the club, so for that I commend him. But now is the right time for him to move on.

"Another name that sticks out is Nicolas Otamendi. His mistakes and naivety at times this season have been big issues for City. The defeats against Norwich and Wolves spring to mind the most.

"He’s been a good servant to City. When’s he’s on form, he’s excellent. But when he’s having a bad day, it’s a disaster. If these types of mistakes continue, he could well force himself out the door come the end of the season."

John Stones has been linked with a move away but Pep has regularly voiced his support, what do most fans make of him?

John Stones: Manchester City defender's season disrupted by injury

"Since Stones joined the club, I’ve been a big fan of his, and always had the faith in Pep to elevate Stones to the same level he did with Gerard Pique at Barcelona. He turned a good defender into a world class one.

"But during this season at City, thoughts have crept in my mind that have wondered has Stones improved at all?

"He is still a very good player, but after three-and-half years under Pep, his progression has not become prevalent in his game, it’s not noticeable.

"I still have the belief that Stones has a big future at the club, but he still plays like he needs another few years to get to that top level, the level that Aymeric Laporte is already at. But I believe the club will give him plenty of time for him to progress."

With not buying a centre-back etc, is Pep too stubborn for his own good?

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: Too stubborn for his own good?

"City not buying a centre-back says to me that Pep has so much belief and faith in the defenders that he already has at the club.

"Buying a player for the defence (a very important position for Pep) in January will come across as a rushed panic-buy. Saying that, the fact that Fernandinho has been playing regularly in the defence either tells me that he can’t afford to not have the Brazilian in the team, or that he doesn’t have faith in a true centre-back defensive partnership while Laporte is out.

"City’s clash away at Crystal Palace saw Pep start with Fernandinho and Rodri, two central midfielders, in the centre back positions. This could have been further proof that he is not fully happy with his current defensive options in that position.

"If City didn’t have Fernandinho, not buying a centre-half in January could have been very costly to their season."

What have you made of Riyad Mahrez's recent displays - like a new signing?

Man City celebrate Riyad Mahrez's goal against Leicester at the Etihad

"His stunning form has been a big positive for City in the past few weeks. Before this latest run in the team, as a rotational player, Mahrez was absolutely infuriating at times.

"Nine times out of 10 he could take on a defender and it come to nothing, but there was always that moment in him where he could get past his man and fire a wonderful goal in out of nowhere. But now it seems that a consistent run in the side has brought out the very best in him."

Do you think Pep will stay next season – and do you fear for City if he doesn’t?

Pep Guardiola: Spanish boss has seen his side fall off the pace in the Premier League

"I do believe that Pep will stay for next season at least. I think the club will have a big transfer haul in the summer, which Pep will undoubtedly be a huge part of. Depending on how the team fares after that, could be the deciding factor on whether or not Pep will continue in Manchester after that.

"Life after Pep has always been a scary thought for City fans, he’s the best manager in the world, how do you improve on that?

"But I have faith in City’s top-level board members, ever since the takeover in 2008, the club always has had plans for the future. Pep’s departure will be a huge loss no doubt, but the club will know what the best move is after he’s left."

What do you make of Arteta's departure - what will City lose with his exit?

Mikel Arteta: Spaniard left Man City for the big job at Arsenal

"It’s a big move for Arteta, but if he had his heart set on becoming the main man at Arsenal, then City couldn’t stand in his way.

"His presence and knowledge in and around the training sessions and dressing room will be missed at the club. He will obviously have learned a lot from Pep, but his experience at City will have helped Arteta discover his own ways and plans for what he will be doing at Arsenal.

"I’m glad he got the move he wanted and thank him for his time and work at City. His short time at Arsenal has already shown what a positive impact he has had on the team."

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Inside the Premier League with Laura Woods - Sporting Life's January signing

Sky Sports and talkSPORT presenter Laura Woods begins her new fortnightly column, providing her unique football insight.

Take a look by clicking the image below...

Laura Woods: Our very own January transfer window signing

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