Man City willing to axe £41m man, as Chelsea ‘bidding war’ looms for big upgrade

Juventus pair Federico Bernadeschi and Matthijs De Ligt celebrating with their fans 2021

Manchester City are prepared to sell a £41m signing in order to help fund a huge bid for Matthijs De Ligt, though they could face stiff competition from Chelsea, per a report.

The hallmark of City and Chelsea’s current campaigns has been their rock solid defences. While Liverpool have been blowing teams away thanks in large part to Mohamed Salah’s heroics, their leaky defence has given opposition sides a chance.

In contrast, Chelsea have conceded just four goals in the league thus far. City aren’t far behind, shipping just six.

Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped both sides being linked with Juventus and Netherlands ace, De Ligt.

The 22-year-old has drawn persistent links with Chelsea in recent weeks. He was named as a potential Thiago Silva successor in late-October.

Additionally, the continued uncertainty surrounding the contract status’ of Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen could give Thomas Tuchel an immediate need to splash the cash. Each of those three Blues defenders are in the final years of their contracts.

However, according to SportsMole (citing Italian outlet Calciomercato), De Ligt has another English admirer.

They claim Man City are in the mix, and could axe Nathan Ake in order to help fund the move. In their words, ‘Pep Guardiola is understood to be considering the departure of Nathan Ake next summer.’ That would free up both funds and squad space for De Ligt, who Guardiola ‘admires’.

Matthijs de Ligt's agent Mino Raola holds talks with Chelsea, Manchester City and Barcelona

Matthijs de Ligt's agent Mino Raola has reportedly held talks with Chelsea, Manchester City and Barcelona, with more news on Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen.

De Ligt reportedly holds a  €150m (£128.4m) release clause within his contract that activates next summer.

Whether either City or Chelsea would be willing to trigger that clause is unclear. What would appear a more realistic prospect if both sides act on their interest, would be a bidding war at lower stakes.

If that scenario unfolds and City do offload Ake, they are stated to be ‘prepared’ to do battle for the Dutchman’s signature.

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‘Trust us’ – Guardiola on Man City’s striker hunt

Meanwhile, Man City boss Pep Guardiola has provided an update on the club’s hunt for a new striker,

The Cityzens lost Sergio Aguero in the summer as he joined Barcelona on a free transfer. Gabriel Jesus, widely thought of as his long-term replacement, has since been deployed on the right side of the front three.

That left Guardiola having to operate without a proper number nine. So far this campaign he has played Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne, Ferran Torres and Bernardo Silva all in the false number nine role.

However, the reigning Premier League champions may need a permanent striker if they are to compete with Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. Indeed, City have surprisingly been kept scoreless in six of 17 matches this season.

Guardiola was asked about the potential need for a centre-forward on Friday. He said (via Manchester Evening News): “I don’t know, I’m not a magician to know what will happen, if I knew I’d tell you. First of all I’d tell Man City.

“Just trust a bit – [look] how many goals we scored last year without a striker because Sergio was injured. Maybe in the future we will buy a proper striker, a number nine who will score goals, who knows.

“We are who we are, we move forward in this sense. I spoke many times. We wanted to do it but could not do it, we have enough players.”

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