Manchester City transfer targets: 5 signings Pep Guardiola could make in January

Updated: 25/02/2024

Manchester City's Premier League campaign has hit rocky ground in the past fortnight, with back-to-back league losses to Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

As a result, Pep Guardiola's side have slipped from comfortably first to third in the table, behind Liverpool and Tottenham.

With injuries and suspensions mounting in key positions, Guardiola may be minded to turn to the January transfer window to strengthen his squad and reclaim top spot.

Read more: Fernandinho injury: Will Manchester City star be fit to face Southampton?

Last season he spent £60m bringing in Aymeric Laporte. The season prior he bought Gabriel Jesus in from Palmeiras. It's likely he'll recruit again – the question is who, and how much will he spend?

Here, we sift through the rumour mill for likely and unlikely deals. If you are unfamiliar with our ratings system for transfers, here's the key:

Ratings key

💰 = Completely unbelievable

💰💰💰💰💰 = Dead certainty

Houssem Aouar

Lyon's French midfielder Houssem Aouar celebrates after scoring against Monaco (Getty Images)

Age: 20

Club: Lyon

Position: Central midfield

Houssem Aouar impressed Guardiola in the Champions League for his performances with Lyon in Group F. There have been some reports suggesting that Guardiola sees him as a natural successor to Fernandinho, which certainly gives due credit to his passing and defensive ability but undervalues the dribbling attributes which enable him to beat defenders.

His release clause is reported to be around £18m and for a midfielder as promising as he is, Aouar could be a steal – which is in part why Liverpool are also interested in the youngster.

Read more: Liverpool transfer targets: 5 possible January window recruits reviewed

However, the young Frenchman seems set to sign a contract extension to increase his wages and extend his stay in Lyon to 2024. The deal will significantly increase his income and improve his bargaining position with his Premier League suitors for playing time and pay when they come knocking. It will also increase the fee to Lyon.

A deal seems unlikely to be done in January – but keep your eyes peeled in the summer.

Rating: 💰💰

Juan Fernando Quintero

Juan Quintero of River Plate celebrates following his sides victory in the Copa Libertadores (Getty Images)

Age: 25

Club: River Plate (on loan from Porto)

Position: Attacking midfield or right wing

The Colombian caught the eye in the World Cup for his country, and River Plate must have been feeling smug. They had loaned in the attacking midfielder in January with a clause stipulating an option to buy Porto's asset at the end of his loan spell, ending with the year. They have an option to buy the player for €3.2m, far below his general release clause with Porto. River Plate's president Rodolfo D'Onofrio has already acknowledged that the club will exercise the clause.

Read more: Arsenal transfer targets: 5 signings Unai Emery could make in January

However, it's unclear as to whether Quintero would have to agree terms with River, and whether he'd wish to. According to Marca he is eyeing a move to Europe. Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep, is linked to the dealings amid rumoured interest from Real Madrid and Tottenham. It's likely if he were to sign for City, he would sign for the City group but be loaned to Girona, due to the competition for places – although if River sign him and then demand a high price for him the deal may become unattractive.

Rating: 💰💰

Tiago Dantas

Age: 18

Club: Benfica

Position: Central midfield

Manchester City have been watching the technically-gifted Portuguese midfielder for a while and their interest was reported last December. He fits the profile of Guardiola's usual choices in midfield, while he would be a signing to replace the outgoing Brahim Diaz who seems to be off to Real Madrid.

Read more: Manchester United transfer targets: 5 signings Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could make in January

Recent reports suggest Dantas has turned down a renewal of his contract with Benfica and will sign for City on a five year deal in the summer. So while this deal may not go through in January, it does seem likely he'll join sooner rather than later.

Rating: 💰💰💰💰

Frenkie de Jong

Frenkie De Jong in action for the Netherlands against Peru (Getty Images)

Age: 21

Club: Ajax

Position: Central midfield, defensive midfield

The myth himself. Frenkie's trip to the Etihad has long been rumoured and discussed. The defensive midfielder, press-breaker and modern libero extraordinaire has obviously impressed Guardiola. De Jong has been at the heart of a successful Ajax side for a few seasons now and has impressed most who have seen him, including those who have watched his first few caps for the Netherlands.

He is now reportedly subject of a £60m negotiation with the Citizens. So why is it not a done deal? Barcelona's interest is reported to be equally intense and financially ambitious.

You may imagine it will all come down to what sort of guarantees both clubs can offer him in terms of playing time, development and role. As a young player he'll be keen to see his career kick on to the next level, rather than stagnate to become a wonderkid of yesteryear. He will likely move at some point – his career seems destined for bigger things – it's just whether it will be to City and in this window.

Rating: 💰💰💰

Reinier Jesus Carvalho

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Age: 16

Club: Flamengo

Position: Attacking midfield

The Flamengo academy star has impressed for the senior side at a tender age, attracting the interest of Real Madrid and now City who have a strong scouting presence in South America.

Contracted until 2021, Carvalho has a reported £62m release clause – which is a lot of money for a relatively unproven 16-year-old.

The Brazilian under-17 attacker, who scored against the United States in October wearing No 10 for his country, obviously has recognisable talent. But it is a high asking price and the scouts must be certain he's worth the pricetag – or negotiate down a sensible fee from the release clause.

Rating: 💰💰


More on the Premier League:

Liverpool transfer targets: 5 possible January window recruits

Is the title race Klopp vs Guardiola – or will Pochettino beat both?

Man Utd transfer targets: 5 possible January signings reviewed

Man Utd vs Bournemouth: Kick-off time and how to watch on TV

Liverpool vs Arsenal: Kick-off time, TV channel, team news

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea: Kick-off time, how to watch on TV

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