Eliaquim Mangala
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Lots of ‘ifs’ as Man City look to trump Chelsea in defender stakes

| 31.01.2014

It now seems highly likely that Chelsea will be successful in their January pursuit of Kurt Zouma, with the expectation that the world’s best teenage defender will sign for five years and remain at Saint Etienne until the end of this season.

Given Zouma’s potential at the age of 19, a fee of £12.4m may well look a bargain in a few years time, especially as he is very speedy, strong in the tackle and has great awareness.

Assuming Jose Mourinho can make him more dominant under the high ball, alongside better at knowing when to press the ball and when to hold his position, he has every prospect of being one of the world’s best defenders soon.

The upcoming era promises to be a great one for France from a defensive standpoint, with Laurent Koscielny much improved at Arsenal and Raphael Varane now a regular at Real Madrid.

However, there is a fourth option to consider and one that is also still young, while being more complete than Zouma at present.

It is Manchester City that are chasing Eliaquim Mangala on deadline day, as part of a double swoop at Porto with midfielder Fernando.

The speculation is that £46m has been offered for the pair and talks with Fernando are particularly well advanced.

Completing a deal for 22-year-old Mangala will be tougher, chiefly because he is said to have reservations about the deal as he wants guaranteed first-team football to boost his chances of going to the World Cup.

Furthermore, although Porto have previous for being a selling club, they are almost certain not to allow both their central defenders to leave in January and interest is also rife in Argentine international Nicolas Otamendi.

Man Utd are at the front of the queue for Otamendi, while there is also interest from Valencia.

Meanwhile, Joleon Lescott is also looking for a move from Man City, with West Ham known to be one club willing to offer him an escape. But he is unlikely to leave if no replacement is brought in.

The signings of Fernando and Mangala would enhance the appeal of Man City’s odds of 4/1 that they remain unbeaten for the duration of the Premier League season ahead of facing Chelsea, while it is 9/4 they win every home top-flight fixture.