- Bayern Munich’s David Alaba is prime target in defence
- Cas ruling enhances chance of keeping key players at City
Jamie Jackson – The Guardian
Bayern Munich’s David Alaba (right) can play at left-back and centre-back, two positions in which Manchester City’s manager, Pep Guardiola, wants to strengthen. Composite: Getty/Reuters
The court of arbitration for sport ruled on Monday that Uefa’s decision should be overturned and a €30m (£27m) fine reduced to €10m.
This means Guardiola will be allowed to invest heavily, particularly in a rearguard that proved the achilles heel in City’s failed title defence this season.
The manager is prioritising a centre-back and left-back and may move for a striker because of Sergio Agüero’s potential departure next summer when the club record goalscorer’s contract is due to end.
Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, who can play in both those defensive positions, is Guardiola’s prime target and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli’s 29‑year‑old central defender, is also on his radar.
The prospect of Guardiola being successful in the market is further boosted by the fine reduction, with £18m approximately equivalent to an elite player’s salary.
Guardiola has previously stated that whatever Cas decided he would see out a contract that runs until summer 2021. Whether he will sign a deal to extend his tenure beyond a fifth year is unclear, although this will give City greater hope.
The ruling appears to clarify Kevin De Bruyne’s future, with the Belgian looking set to stay at least until his terms end in 2023. The 29-year-old had said he would consider leaving City if the ban was upheld. A team whose core also includes Ederson, Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Agüero, Gabriel Jesus and Rodrigo also appears less likely to be broken up.
The quashing of the ban could prove a fillip for the remainder of the season. City, who have secured second place in the Premier League, face Arsenal in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday and resume in the Champions League on 7 August. Guardiola’s side host Real Madrid in the last-16 second leg, holding a 2-1 lead.