Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Man City step up De Bruyne replacement plans by scouting two targets from table-topping club

Bayer Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz and Exequiel Palacios, and Man City's Kevin de Bruyne

Bayer Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz and Exequiel Palacios, and Man City's Kevin de Bruyne

Manchester City took a closer look at in-form Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz at the weekend as well as one of his teammates, per a report.

Wirtz is back on Man City’s radar after a productive start to the new season. His 15 goal contributions from 15 appearances across all competitions have represented one of the main ingredients that have led Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga table.

Man City have been linked with Wirtz for a while, but have been reassured by the progress he has made since recovering from a serious injury.

According to 90min, the Premier League champions went to watch the 20-year-old at the weekend, when Bayer Leverkusen were playing against Hoffenheim.

Wirtz scored the opening goal of the game, which finished as a 3-2 win for his side. It was the fourth game in a row in which he had contributed at least one goal or assist.

As an attacking midfielder, Wirtz could be classed as a potential replacement for Kevin De Bruyne at Man City. The Belgian superstar remains focused on his duties under Pep Guardiola, but is becoming a major target for the Saudi Pro League.

TEAMtalk has exclusively revealed that Al-Nassr are showing strong interest in linking De Bruyne up with Cristiano Ronaldo and company at the end of the season.

Bayer Leverkusen still have Wirtz under contract until 2027, but will be bracing themselves for interest. Already last month, TEAMtalk confirmed he was on Man City’s radar – but also other Premier League suitors.

Another potential Man City target from Bayer Leverkusen that TEAMtalk has discovered is Exequiel Palacios. In turn, the report from 90min has also reflected their interest in the Argentina international, who plays in a slightly deeper role than Wirtz.

Could Wirtz and Palacios step up further?

Palacios’ contract with Bayer Leverkusen is due to last a year longer than Wirtz’s, as things stand. However, with the form they have been in, either of them may be on the move before then.

Although currently on course for a top-four finish in the German top-flight, Bayer Leverkusen are playing in the Europa League this season, whereas Man City are the reigning Champions League holders.

Interestingly, Bayer Leverkusen’s head coach is Xabi Alonso, who used to play under Guardiola at Bayern Munich. Obviously, he will have his own principles of how to play, but in theory, it could equip Wirtz and Palacios with an early understanding of how to succeed at Man City.

That said, both players are attracting interest from a wide range of clubs. Man City have been known to only bid at levels they are comfortable with, even for players they really want.

Therefore, if Wirtz or Palacios are the subject of bidding wars, Man City will be keen to sign them, but only on their terms.

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